Interview with Dr. Szilard Nathan Vegas, CEO of Wholesale Hotels Group
Hello, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Szilard Nathan Vegas and I immigrated to the USA by myself, without any money when I was 22 years old. The beginning was extremely hard; arriving to a country where a different language was spoken, realizing that there was an entirely different system here and not having anybody who could help me assist with how things worked. Once I established the basics, I lived in 1-star motels, surrounded by cockroaches with no private bathrooms, working full-time for minimum wage in one of the most expensive cities in the USA. I have always had an entrepreneurial side and out of necessity, I had to live extremely frugally and save up money to open up my own business for the prospect of a better future. Soon thereafter, I established my own consulting company which has allowed me to meet very wealthy and influential people. I was invited to yachts while I was still working on getting out of that 1-star motel to move into an apartment; life was incredibly surreal. But there was another great thing that came out of that: My job allowed me to travel worldwide.
Traveling quickly turned into my passion (having visited already 81 countries and 32 States) but all expenses had to come out of my own pocket and even though there was an abundance of hotel booking sites out there with limitless inventories, I knew that there had to be alternative ways to achieve substantial savings on hotel stays so I spent a significant amount of time, learning into the ups and downs of the travel industry. I turned my passion and knowledge into a company and I am now the CEO of Wholesale Hotels Group which has already acquired the highest accreditations in the travel industry and connects a variety of consumers with WHOLESALE hotel pricing and inventories worldwide. My intention was to help everybody access hotel discounts that only the big corporations were able to obtain in the past. I currently reside in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and I have been living here happily for the past 10 years. My hobbies are being involved with various charity organizations, Mensa meetings, a little bit of politics and of course, my main hobby remains my work: Wholesale Hotels Group and travel of course.
Only in the USA can you achieve something out of nothing and I am extremely proud to call the USA not only my home but my country. As my great client, as well as my personal friend, once characterized me: “Born in Hungary, Made in the USA”.
What are your focus areas and why?
Wholesale Hotels Group’s main focus is providing deeply discounted hotel rooms for a variety of consumers. It is of paramount importance for us to deliver deals that the big sites can’t offer to our members and to provide people “more for less”. In today’s environment, the most important thing users care about is the bottom line which is the price. The way we can be in business and to be competitive is that we have to provide the lowest rates on hotels worldwide at all times, period. People are drawn to our site because the savings we can offer is second to none and of course providing quality customer service is imperative nowadays.
How would you describe Wholesale Hotels Group in few words?
A wholesale hotel booking site that allows members to get access to wholesale hotel supplier inventories worldwide.
Where do you think Wholesale Hotels Group is making an impact?
I must say that we are already making an impact everywhere we can but we still have a very long road ahead of us. Our primary goal is to educate people and offer them alternative tools for saving money on hotel rooms. We must put in a lot of effort to demonstrate the power of our site and the amount of money our members can save by booking these hotels through us. We also offer our memberships FREE to qualified Non-Profit and Government Entities because we want to help organizations that help others. We believe in doing good and paying it forward. There are many ways of making an impact and we strive to accomplish it in a variety of ways.
What were some of the biggest challenges you have encountered while running Wholesale Hotels Group?
We face challenges on a daily basis, just like every business and individual. It is how you tackle those things that actually matter. Having said that, out of the many challenges that have arisen in the past, the two biggest ones were:
IT and infrastructure: We are working with virtually all of the wholesale hotel suppliers in the world. Every supplier has its own technical infrastructure and once you integrate and adjust your system to accommodate one supplier, another one comes with an entirely different database, technical background, and technical features and the more you build in, the more confusing it gets eventually until you realize it is impossible (I should say improbable) to handle it. We have spent 4 years’ worth of money, time and sweat into the development of what is currently being used and now accommodates all of those suppliers’ infrastructures. One of the reasons why membership-based travel sites never got too popular was because of the technical hurdles so companies ended up integrating only 1 or 2 suppliers because that’s what they were able to handle. Of course, one supplier can only have competitive pricing and inventory in one area so while you may get a good deal in one part of the world, the rest of the world the pricing is nowhere near as competitive. Since we have contracts and proper infrastructure built with virtually all the suppliers out there, this is not going to be an issue with us.
Education and Consumer habits: It is very difficult to educate people about why they need to pay for a membership to book hotels, especially the ones who are seasonal travelers and let’s say only book 1 hotel per year for their getaway. Why would they pay for such membership? We are trying to put out as much information as possible to demonstrate the difference in hotel pricing and introducing different membership structures that also benefit the occasional travelers too. Essentially, changing consumer habits is one of the most difficult challenges as people are used to the way things are and introducing new platforms is always time-taking, costly and difficult but we are up for the challenge and we are very certain that once people try our platform they will see the difference.
Tell us about the hotels in your database and how customers can use your platform.
We don’t have exact numbers about the inventory but my best guess would be that we have approximately 850,000 hotels available worldwide for wholesale prices. Our hotels are coming from a mix of wholesale hotel suppliers that we continue maintaining a fantastic relationship with and obtain preferred rates so that we can pass them onto our members.
We offer memberships to a variety of consumers:
Individual Users: In exchange for a nominal membership fee, we allow access to our platform to our members who can then take advantage of discounted pricing on wholesale hotels.
Travel Agents and Travel Agencies: We offer our platform FREE of charge to certain accredited Travel Professionals who further resell the inventory through our site. Preferred pricing is also provided due to the sales volume these travel professionals generate.
Corporate Entities: Annual memberships can be purchased by Corporate Entities which provides these corporations substantial savings and the membership can also be used by the employees for their own discounted leisure travel as part of a corporate perk. Corporations get big discounts on memberships and preferred pricing.
Non-Profit and Government Entities: Same is true for qualified Non-Profit companies and Government entities who can access our platform FREE of charge.
Tell us a few of your success stories.
We work tirelessly to bring substantial savings to our members who provide us with their continued business and patronage. Every time a hotel booking is made on our site is a success story because every dollar our members save makes us happy and it is in itself a testament that it is worth doing what we are doing. Our success lies in their success!
Do you have a secret to your success?
You mean the one I can tell you? Oh, well I think that our secret was to identify a key issue (having a variety of sites that everybody is used to while not delivering much of a difference in terms of savings), find a solution and a technical platform for proper implementation (our wholesale hotel suppliers and the magic of our fantastic IT team), getting fantastic contracts to obtain one of the lowest possible rates in this industry (sleepless nights while dealing with companies worldwide in their own respective time zones) and doing it for the right reasons (I wanted people to either afford more for less or save money on their usual hotels so they can spend it on whatever makes them happy).
What advice do you have for other leaders and entrepreneurs?
Don’t ever give up, EVER! When you think that life has already thrown 1,000 curveballs at you, get ready…. 10,000 more will come but it is how you tackle those at the end of the day that matters. Don’t consider anything a problem, treat them as challenges. Stay positive even if you don’t think it is realistic but know your reality. Recognize the fact that there will always be certain things that are beyond your control but always brainstorm on how you can make the most out of your current situation. Last but not least, keep your customers happy, you are doing this for them and not the other way around!