gCommerce markets hotels online
May 2, 2007
Scott van Hartesvelt’s palms were sweating when he entered the meeting with Gemstone Resorts management.
"It was a tough meeting because these guys are intense guys," van Hartesvelt said.
The 22-year-old was hired to build a manual for the company’s marketing team that would explain how to advertise Gemstone’s hotels on the Internet.
However, when the time came, van Hartesvelt had a different idea and didn’t have a manual to present.
"They paid me a lot of money and I had to look them in the eye and say, ‘I didn’t write it,’" he said.
The management looked at him with puzzled faces before van Hartesvelt quickly explained why.
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After he did all the research, he realized that a manual would become obsolete within three to six months as the Internet is dynamic and constantly changing.
"Instead of building a manual, I built a business plan," van Hartesvelt said.
In the place of providing the company with a manual, van Hartesvelt became a personal Internet marketing consultant for Gemstone and from that point realized he could do this for other companies as well.
Soon after, he started gCommerce Solutions and is hired by hotels who do not understand how to generate premium market share online.
"It was right there in front of us and we put the company together by accident and got it done," van Hartesvelt said.
Most the directors of sales and marketing, van Hartesvelt said, are in a sense "locked and loaded" in their old techniques.
"And the Internet came along and they didn’t know how to deal with this dynamic thing," van Hartesvelt said. "When the Internet came along there were thousands of sites that they needed to be aware of. The volume and the growth took everyone by surprise."
He said some companies can do it internally and hire employees with large salaries or hire someone to do it on a contract basis.
"We are significantly cheaper," van Hartesvelt said.
He said his big hook is, instead of doing contract work for a determined price, he charges "a revenue based on the profit we generate that can be directly attributable to the programs we launch. "
"It’s a risk-free environment," van Hartesvelt said. "If it’s not successful you don’t have to pay us."
That’s why Hotel Park City signed with them this week.
"I’m just giving them a chance. I literally just signed with them today," said Kevin Thorstenson, the executive vice president and general manger for Hotel Park City, on Monday.
Thorstenson said he is always looking to advertise on the Internet as most people in today’s world "look at the Internet as a definite reference point before traveling."
"(gCommerce Solutions) approached us and we looked at it and saw that there’s nothing to lose," Thorstenson said. "It’s an opportunity."
The strength of the company, van Hartesvelt said, is comprehensive coverage of Internet marketing.
"Hotels right now go to four or five different providers to do what we do," van Hartesvelt said. "It becomes a cluster and we eliminate the whole thing. There’s one account executive, that’s the only person you have to talk to. We take care of everything; all you have to do is manage one person.
"Most people do this in small packages," he continued. "No one has put it together and says ‘We will handle the whole thing’ and then bet their fees on it."
gCommerce Solutions will not sign contracts with multiple hotels in a geographic area to avoid competition with itself.
"We have ethical concerns that a (geographic area) has one spot available to it. We won’t represent any competitors and we won’t dump you for a higher price," van Hartesvelt said.
In the last five years, gCommerce Solutions has grown to 35 clients that combine to market 700 hotels and make an annual revenue of more than $2 million, van Hartesvelt said.
"It’s been a fun ride," he said.
The local company currently employees 19 people and most of them live in Park City and are familiar with the hotel industry.
"We preference people with hotel experience," van Hartesvelt said. "About 80 percent of our workforce has worked with hotels."
van Hartesvelt’s company thrives off of a happy workforce that feels like they are part of the company.
"When you walk into our organization, you really feel our culture," he said. "We do not have paper pushers in our company. What we do flows with everyone."
He tries to push equality among employees as well.
"We request and encourage anyone in the organization to bring me a business model. We empower them and as a result, people in our organization are empowered and really happy with their jobs. It’s an enjoyable place to work. Everyone really has a passion for what we do."
His system, he says, creates low turnover among employees and a fearless approach to work.
"I got a bunch of people who are not afraid of losing their job if their idea fails," van Hartesvelt said. "If an organization supports that, you really get a lot of ideas from places you wouldn’t expect."
Park City is an ideal base for the company because it’s a hospitality-based economy where the recruiting ground is strong, van Hartesvelt said.
"We love Park City. It’s a great place to do business," he said. "I couldn’t imagine being in a different industry."
For more information on gCommerce Solutions, call 214-5301 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.