Have you ever shopped around for a vacation or cottage property? Were you extremely frustrated by the process? Or maybe you own a vacation property but are having difficulties getting maximum occupancy year-round?
Mike Citron and his company, LodgeSmarter, is looking to change the travel industry as it pertains to vacation properties. Mike is a 2nd year student at Athabasca University (taking online courses) and is one of EPICentre’s newest RBC EPIC Founders. He also holds a diploma in Business Administration from St. Clair College.
Mike’s journey started when he was a young boy. He has always wanted to run his own business and has always been an entrepreneurial thinker, dreaming up a variety of different business ideas. When he finally came up with the idea for LodgeSmarter, he knew this was something he wanted to pursue further. In particular, Mike loves to travel, especially on short notice, which can be very expensive, especially for younger individuals and students.
The idea for LodgeSmarter began approximately four years ago. Mike frequents Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario where he is usually mountain biking and enjoying the outdoors. With traveling, he would try to find last minute deals but the dates were almost always hit and miss. He came to the realization that there might be an opportunity for like-minded people in similar situations and decided to pursue his idea and turn it into a reality.
Mike had been working closely with Marco Fiori, a business advisor with WEtech Alliance, who told him about EPICentre’s RBC EPIC Founders Program. Mike decided to take a leave of absence from his current job to work on his business idea full-time and the Founders Program was ideal since he is able to earn income through the program while working on his startup full-time.
As a first step, Mike started approaching Airbnb owners and came to the conclusion that a majority of them were having a tough time booking their properties in the low seasons but they were also having difficulties in the high seasons as well. There is a competitive market amongst property owners to attain maximum occupancy rates. Mike wants to simplify the process and make it easier for property owners to increase their occupancy throughout the years, and with that, their profits.
Mike is now in the process of developing the LodgeSmarter platform, an online and mobile service that will help travelers find accommodations easier and at a more affordable rate while at the same time assisting vacation property owners earn more income through higher occupancy rates. He has already signed up 23 properties throughout Ontario who are willing to try the service once launched.
The platform will come with a ton of additional features as well, including a verification process that ensures all properties listed on the site are legit. Additionally, he is working on implementing geolocation technology for travelers who prefer to book last minute and those who are on the road often. This would allow his platform to provide alerts and last minute deals to consumers based on their proximity to these properties. He also plans on focusing on listing those vacation properties that are unsold within a 4-week time frame, as well as listing any cancellations that could then be reserved through the platform.
Ultimately, Mike is trying to increase occupancy rates for owners of vacation properties while providing discounted travel prices and convenient booking for consumers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. He is hopeful that the website will be launched by the end of June and is also in the process of developing an app for both iOS and Android.
Stay tuned for more updates on LodgeSmarter. For more information, please visit https://lodgesmarter.com/ and subscribe to their mailing list.
You can also find LodgeSmarter on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LodgeSmarter/