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Citybox: How Citybox unlocked the door to a suite of data-driven success

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Citybox: How Citybox unlocked the door to a suite of data-driven success</span>

How Citybox unlocked the door to a suite of data-driven success

What if a budget hotel chain could outmaneuver its competitors – not by outspending them, but by outsmarting them? This article tells the story of Citybox and how they used benchmarking data to turn that what-if into reality. Explore how the right insights can redefine success in the hospitality industry, driving strategic decisions and enabling growth in ways previously unimagined.

Since their launch in 2006, Norwegian hotel chain Citybox has been pioneering a new approach to budget accommodation, setting itself apart by leveraging technology and innovative operational models. Incorporating advanced tech, such as self-service terminals, has enabled Citybox to streamline its operations, eliminating the traditional reception desk and enhancing efficiency. Today, they’re located in five countries (Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, and Finland) – with plans for continued expansion.

Eivind Hjulstad, CEO of Citybox, has been instrumental in steering the company's growth and strategic direction over the past 14 years. Beginning his journey with a single 55-room hotel, his leadership has been key to expanding Citybox's presence and success. Under Eivind’s leadership, the administrative team has expanded to 28, allowing for greater focus on strategic development and interior design and ensuring Citybox remains at the forefront of the industry. He tells us:

- We strongly emphasize the quality of Citybox’s environment, employing a dedicated team of interior designers to ensure that the feel of our hotels matches that of a four-star experience – all while maintaining budget-friendly rates. This commitment to quality and affordability has enabled us to grow our presence to eight hotels. And more to come.

Overcoming transparency hurdles in the industry

Facing the rapid evolution of the hospitality industry, particularly in terms of market transparency, Citybox initially encountered challenges in understanding its competitive landscape.

- We operated somewhat isolatedly in the past, with limited visibility into our competitors' strategies and performances. Our reliance on direct sales, management efforts, and travel agencies proved no longer sufficient to secure our market position or to strategize effectively, Eivind recalls.

This lack of benchmarking data presented an obstacle as Citybox aimed to maintain its commitment to offering value for money while ensuring competitive pricing. Hjulstad elaborates:

- Without knowing where we fit into the market, figuring out how to keep our prices competitive without cutting corners on quality felt like a guessing game. It became harder and harder to strike that balance without the full picture.

Choosing the right benchmarking partner 

To tackle the above, Citybox decided to partner with a benchmarking service. But they found their options limited. Eivind recalls the decision-making process:

- When we were considering our options, Benchmarking Alliance came as a natural choice since they are the alternative that matches both our needs today and the evolving landscape.
The industry's movement towards greater transparency and data utilization influenced the decision to partner with Benchmarking Alliance.

- Our collaboration with Benchmarking Alliance was crucial in addressing the operational challenges we faced in a sector that's not only competitive but rapidly changing, Hjulstad adds.

For Eivind, the effectiveness of benchmarking hinges on widespread participation.

- Benchmarking is only as powerful as the data it aggregates. You can't achieve meaningful insights with just a handful of hotel data. Benchmarking Alliance did an exceptional job of getting so many hotels on board, which was a critical factor in our decision, he explains. 


Real-time insights, real-world success

Eivind highlights the impact of Benchmarking Alliance's platform on Citybox's strategic capabilities:

- Their platform has filled a crucial gap, providing comprehensive market insights previously out of our reach. It equipped us with the ability to track both historical and predictive trends, giving us a clearer understanding of where we stand in relation to our competitors.
This insight has been particularly beneficial as Citybox expand their footprint. Hjulstad underscores the value of Benchmarking Alliance's tools in this context:

- As we move into new territories, the data from Benchmarking Alliance is indispensable. It enables us to adopt a strategic approach in these markets, positioning our pricing to uphold our commitment to affordability without sacrificing the quality our guests expect from us.
Moreover, Citybox benefits from the dynamic nature of the data provided by Benchmarking Alliance.

- We receive daily updates, which keeps our market analysis current and allows us to monitor our performance against competitors in real-time. This continuous flow of information ensures we're always up-to-date and able to react swiftly to market changes, Eivind adds.
The combination of real-time data and strategic insights has fortified Citybox's position in the hospitality industry. Hjulstad also praises the usability of Benchmarking Alliance's reporting:

- The way they present data is incredibly user-friendly. It's not just the volume of information that's impressive but how accessible and actionable it is, thanks to their well-structured reports.

Citybox without a compass 

Eivind addresses Benchmarking Alliance's role in Citybox's operational strategy, especially in revenue management.

- Currently, we have two dedicated personnel focusing on revenue. Without the resources and insights provided by Benchmarking Alliance, and the subsequent increase in revenue, bringing these specialists on board would not have been feasible, he states.

The impact of Benchmarking Alliance's data goes beyond internal management to influence Citybox's market reputation, particularly in locations like the Norwegian cities of Oslo and Bergen. Hjulstad elaborates:

- We've consistently led in occupancy rates in these cities. However, without concrete data from Benchmarking Alliance, linking our success to tangible evidence and publicly claiming the top spot for occupancy wouldn’t have been possible. It's the solid, fact-based reporting that gives credibility to our statements.

The absence of Benchmarking Alliance's insights would have left Citybox navigating the market's pricing dynamics in the dark.

- Without a clear grasp of where we stand with market pricing, we'd be stuck – either leaning too much on others for insights or getting our hands dirty with a tedious, manual data hunt. Both paths would just tangle up our operations in unnecessary complexity, Hjulstad shares with a hint of pragmatism.

“Getting us exactly what we need, when we need it”

Eivind Hjulstad provides a positive assessment of Citybox's collaboration with Benchmarking Alliance, highlighting the ease and efficiency of their partnership:

- Comparing our experiences with different suppliers, it's clear that Benchmarking Alliance is in a league of its own. The ease and effectiveness of our partnership are really something special. Not having to be in touch all the time actually speaks volumes about how seamlessly their services fit with what we're doing. It's like they're this quiet force in the background, getting us exactly what we need, when we need it, without any fuss or hassle.

This streamlined interaction contrasts Citybox's experience with other suppliers, where ongoing dialogue and intricate discussions are often necessary.

- We frequently communicate with many of our other partners to address complex issues or coordinate services, which can be time-consuming. With Benchmarking Alliance, however, everything just works. It's a clear indication of their expertise and platform reliability.

Looking ahead, Hjulstad expresses enthusiasm for deepening the collaboration between Citybox and Benchmarking Alliance:

- We're constantly searching for fresh, innovative ways to boost what we do. And we're excited about integrating Benchmarking Alliance's services even more tightly into our operations. They've shown us what they're capable of, and based on the smooth sailing we've had so far, I'm really optimistic about what we can achieve together moving forward.

Do you also want to navigate the hospitality landscape like an expert? Book your free demo today and experience our platform's interactivity firsthand, exploring features designed with your needs in mind and tailored insights that resonate with your business’s challenges and ambitions.