In this brand new series, we feature alumni who share their experience and tips about becoming entrepreneurs. Meet Krispin Wehrli, the co-founder of the travel booking website SoldoutNight, and a graduate of Swiss Hotel Management School.
Krispin Wehrli is co-founder of the travel booking website, SoldoutNight. The platform allows companies to manage travel and to access exclusive hotel rates through a number of partnering hotels worldwide. The early-stage travel start-up has offices in Manila and Kyiv.
Years before launching his business, Krispin studied at SHMS, where he earned his BA in Hospitality & Events Management. He then went on to work in operations, sales and marketing, revenue management, and business development in New York and Manila.
He currently lives in Manila, Philippines, where we caught up with him to discuss his journey towards entrepreneurship and what advice he’d give to others who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was raised in Zurich, Switzerland. I grew up in a very multicultural family—my mother is from the Philippines, my father is from Switzerland, and they met in the United States. I’ve been living in Manila, Philippines since 2016.
Why did you choose a career in hospitality?
Coming from a multicultural family, I traveled quite a bit, which developed my passion for hospitality and the travel industry. I also think I was quite empathetic from an early age, which aligns well with the nature of these industries. Eventually, I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Hospitality & Events Management at SHMS and graduated in 2013.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at SHMS?
I remember the people and the friendships I built there the most. In fact, I still keep up with a lot of the friends I made at SHMS. One of my favorite memories is from our second year banquet. Our theme was Shanghai Nights and I was appointed as head chef. We put together a great menu, but I remember completely messing up the dessert! The sticky black rice tasted very bland. We made mistakes with the sugar and coconut milk ratio that day. It was awful. Back then, it really stressed me out. Today, I can laugh about it. My friends and I still joke about it and we had so much fun organizing that event. It was an amazing experience, organizing a banquet for 110 guests.
You worked in a number of roles after you graduated from SHMS. What ultimately drove you to become an entrepreneur?
Working in hotels, I started to see that the vast majority of business-related travel was unmanaged—from bookings to cancellations to updating reservations. A friend and fellow SHMS alumnus and I began thinking about building a platform whereby small- and medium-sized companies and frequent travelers could manage their trips, access exclusive hotel prices, and easily monitor hotel rates to get the best deals. This opportunity, mixed with a little fate on our side, led us to eventually create SoldoutNight. I found entrepreneurship very exciting and enjoyed the challenge and freedom of building something from scratch and growing a business.
"I found entrepreneurship very exciting and enjoyed the challenge and freedom of building something from scratch and growing a business."
Krispin Wehrli, Co-Founder of SoldoutNight
What advice would you give to those interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to be very hands-on and invest a lot of time. Luckily, SHMS gave me a ton of hands-on experience, which definitely helped because I’ve been involved with every aspect of building our business.
Get to know your customers and really listen to them. My time at SHMS really helped me with this skill, and it makes a big difference to the success of your business.
Create a product or service to meet a real need. When you’re first forming your business idea, take the time to identify your market and the problems your potential customers face. This will allow you to create a service or product your customers will truly find useful.
Take time to hire the right staff. This will save you time later on and can have a huge impact on the success of your business.
Remember to build in self-care. Being an entrepreneur can be very taxing. Make sure you take time to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and factor in other activities that make you feel good.
Interested in a career in hospitality, event management, or design? Start your journey at SHMS with our three-year, multi-campus degree program, in partnership with the University of Derby, United Kingdom.