Talking diversity with Erik Tengen, Co-Founder of Oaky

Diversity can affect businesses in very interesting ways. Most companies have come to understand that, without a good diversity strategy in place, the chance of attracting the right talent can greatly suffer.

I remember that, when I was looking for potential employment options, there were some companies that, while they had good jobs, just didn’t seem like they would provide me with an environment that I would like to work in. Having a diverse staff however achieves way more than simply making your employees feel at home it also makes sure that your company counts on having people who have different problem solving approaches and ideas which can help you overcome some of the challenges you face in order to ensure that your business succeeds!

I spoke to Erik Tengen, Co-Founder of Oaky, about how he believes diversity can help businesses drive forward and succeed. The company has been doing very well and Erik linked the success to the diverse nature of the team. Erik states “I am Swedish, the customer success manager is Norwegian, the other two co-founders are Dutch, our developers are Greek and Chinese and we had a Bosnian developer working with us on a project basis. We really believe in adding more nationalities to our team because we automatically learn a lot from people who think differently.”

Erik, a Swedish national, got the idea for Oaky while living in Kuala Lumpur. “I worked in hotels and saw that a lot of negative feedback was expressed on review sites after the guest had checked out. As a hotelier you would think; if the guest had only told us while they were here, we could have fixed it.” This realisation created a huge opportunity (Oaky) since it’s much easier to make guests happy when they are still in the hotel.

The solution was to create Oaky which “allows the guest to personalise their stay before arrival and to share real-time feedback during their stay.” Oaky allow hotels to engage with their customers in a more personalised manner and “because 48% of all invited guests use Oaky, you end up building very accurate guests profiles which gives the hotels invaluable insights into their guests.”

Diversity is very much part of what Oaky is all about given that it creates the perfect way of communicating to hotel guests who are from very different places in the world. “When we first went live in our first hotel in Belgium our conversion rates were pretty low, simply because we didn’t know the best way of communicating to that type of guests back then. Now 2 years later we are proud to have 70% open rate on emails and 48% of all guests access the hotel’s services.”

When rolling out Oaky in Sweden, Erik was intrigued to discover that the communication for Benelux hotels didn’t apply well to his native country. “We immediately saw that Swedish guests wouldn’t open the emails as much as in Benelux, so we implemented the first A/B test as time of the day that the email was sent. As a result of the first test, we doubled the amount of room upgrades sold and we’re now working towards really understanding more about the Scandinavian travellers’ way of communicating.”

We spoke briefly about the way that Oaky went about acquiring their talent and he mentioned that they have been expanding on their combined network. “We have been working largely with people from within our network. We also work with interns, who we then keep on board if they’re amazing, and I’m a fan of using LinkedIn to get it out there. Recruiting great people can be difficult but it does make a difference if you are in Barcelona or Amsterdam, where people would not mind moving to.”

Erik also shared his thoughts with me on the difficulties of finding strong developers, who have a good fit with the team you are hiring them into; “I think the difficulties are linked to supply and demand… A good developer is not only great at coding but is also a person the rest of the team have fun together with. The social aspect of any position in a start-up is very important. We’re here to have fun in business, and the magic happens when diverse people, who have fun, work towards the same goals.”

If you’re interested in how your company could benefit from greater diversity in your IT team, or you feel like sharing your story on how diversity plays an important role in your company, feel free to contact me at carlos@zartis.com.

 

Talking diversity with Erik Tengen, Co-Founder of Oaky was last modified: September 8th, 2016 by Carlos Figueroa Mayordomo




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