Making Tipping Abroad Easy
Tips Abroad is a company specialising in Cashless Tips for the Digital Economy making it easy to collect tips from international customers. A completely unique and new concept, which is one of a kind in the Maldives, it is hoped that this will revolutionise the tipping industry helping to provide a safe way to provide reward to the hospitality staff who make holidaymakers time in the islands so welcoming. Hotelier Maldives interviews the founder of this unique start up, Andrei Starchenko.
Tell me about your company and what you do and how did the company start?
TipsAbroad as a company started in February, 2021 when I was having a long vacation in Maldives. I was having a great time but at the same time, I encountered a problem with leaving tips to the hotel staff. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, using cash has become unsafe. I, as most people avoided using it and so I was left without any possibility to leave tips when I felt like it. I also noticed that other tourists had the same issue and decided that I might be able to fix that. When I returned home in March I gathered a small development team and the work began. In May I was in Maldives again, having a month on Makunudu Island when my team was ready to roll out the first version of the service. I’ve met with Makunudu’s general manager Abdulla Sgaugy and he was eager to try the service so technically Makunudu Island Hotel is our first and currently only client, but the service is not live yet. Hopefully, it will go live soon.
Where are you based?
I am a resident of Russian Federation and the development team is also here, but our sales and operations offices are in Switzerland, HongKong and UAE.
Who is your client base? I guess as you collect tips it is geared towards travellers, how do you promote this to them?
Our clients are hotels and resorts from all over the world. We provide our service to them and they promote it to their guests directly by placing flyers with QR codes in the appropriate places where guests could see and interact with them. For example: in a room, at the reception, or in the menu.
How can hoteliers in the Maldives use this product?
Our mission is to help hotels increase the salary of their staff by providing their guests with an easy and convenient way to send tips at any moment they feel like. The best thing is that it’s absolutely free for the hotels and they can integrate and launch the service in just a day. You see, tipping is not something you plan. It’s just a matter or a moment, when people that serve you during your holiday make something that makes you feel even better. There was a good example I had personally. One morning my wife was in a pretty bad mood and we had breakfast. She asked a cook for sunny side up eggs and he noticed her mood and made these eggs as a face of a smiling man and wished her a happy day. She instantly became happe and this small act saved us a day. This was not something this cook had to do. It wasn’t his job. But he tried his best and that was the moment that I felt really bad because I wasn’t able to thank him with something, not just words.
Are the F&B industry in Maldives aware and have they welcomed this?
The FB and Hospitality industry all over the world is just starting to embrace this kind of service. When people hear about how it works they warmly welcome it, but as with everything new, going from words to launch takes much effort. In three to five years you won’t see anyone tipping with cash anywhere. Since this benefits to everyone: hotels, staff, guests – it is inevitable. But any innovation needs time and effort from early adopters. This is the point where we are currently at.
Have you introduced any new product range? If yes, what are they?
Online tipping collection is currently our only service as we are focused and don’t want to spread out efforts.
What makes your products stand out from the rest of the competition?
There are just a few companies providing such service and they are focused on the domestic U.S. market while we are focused on the worldwide market and are ready to work with a property in any country.
Have you developed any new customer service initiatives?
To be able to work with property from any country we have established several local companies and Maldives hoteliers can choose whether they would like to receive funds from Russian, Swiss, UAE or Hong Kong company.
What is your product range?
We have only one product at this time that can fit hotels of any size.
Which hotels/resorts have you recently partnered with?
Currently we have only one hotel that is integrating the service. It is Makunudu Island Hotel. However, the service is not live yet.
Have you expanded the company? Have you opened a new showroom or are you purely online?
We are a 100 per cent online company.
When was the company established?
In February 2021.
How many staff do you employ?
We are just starting up and employ 12 people.
What else is new?
Well.. the whole our service is totally new!
What makes your company unique?
Our approach to focus on the worldwide hospitality market and ease to work with.