Inspirational Woman: Rebecca Masri | Founder, Little Emperors

Rebecca MasriRebecca studied in London at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, graduated from the European Business School, and went on to join Goldman Sachs where she spent almost 10 years between Investment Banking and Private Wealth Management.

In 2009 following the crash, Rebecca sought an opportunity to create Little Emperors, a private members’ hotel club, extending both corporate rates and leisure benefits in luxury hotels around the globe. Today, Little Emperors uses sophisticated technology to track its’ 30,000+ members search and booking patterns, and engage in tactical suggestions with an easy to use app and website. Rebecca is hugely philanthropic, and involved in numerous charitable organisations, and most notably, in 2012 was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for her contribution to charity. In her spare time Rebecca, of course, enjoys travelling, diving, ski, yoga, and ballet! She lives in Marylebone with her dog Louis.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and Little Emperors

I have always loved to travel. It has provided me with the best real-life education. All my favourite memories involve travelling, and creating Little Emperors, a hotel club of like-minded members, has been quite a journey…

In 2008, the market took a tumble, and the world headed into a global recession. At this time, I was working at Goldman Sachs. Needless to say, corporate travel was enormously impacted by the crash, with a large and fast shift away from anything perceived as ‘luxury’. One by one luxury hotel contracts were terminated, and as employees of larger organisations were let go, there was a sharp rise in newly formed SMEs. An opportunity was presented. In 2009, together with some friends from University, I created Little Emperors. These new small businesses gave me the buying power to negotiate rates in hotels, giving hotels back the business they had lost, and providing small companies with ‘corporate rates’ which they would not normally have access to. And so, after almost 10 years in world of finance, my career took an entirely new direction and I joined the travel industry.  The company’s mission – to bring our members’ value – value that what you can’t get without us, provide corporate rates to SMEs, and actual benefits, saving money, and also saving time through our booking technology.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I lack the strategy to do that, but I do sit down and plan short term goals, and truly believe that if you fail to plan you should plan to fail! But career – long term goals, never planned at all. I am more a seize the moment and take opportunities as they come kind of girl!

How does Little Emperors use technology within its business model?

Little Emperors advanced forward-thinking technology and optimized search engine helps members find bespoke hotel trips and experiences perfectly suited to their requirements and personal preferences.  The technology allows the company to target its members with bespoke marketing and knows what its members want even before they do! With access to booking search engines, Little Emperors is in a unique position of being able to access what travellers are looking for and can therefore predict future travel trends, always being one step ahead of the curve.

With an easy to use app, members are only 4 clicks away from completing a booking and can gain access to live availability and detailed hotel and room descriptions at any time. Little Emperors is a fantastic example of companies using innovative tech to target its audience in the best way possible.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Every day – both internal and external, and anybody who knows me can attest to the fact that I do like a challenge. If I had to pinpoint my current biggest challenge, I suppose it is one that pops up quite regularly – finding a healthy work/life balance. The enormous pressure of owning a travel business during these strange corona times have prompted me to spend many more hours behind my laptop screen as I feel obligated to my team, hotel partners and members to do the best that I can by them. It has really been challenging to me and other business owners to not let down the people that have been loyal to me us all these years. But, with every change in market there is opportunity. Little Emperors was born in the opportunity that presented itself in the 2008 crash, and I was not going to let this be any different! Time to get creative and enhance our technology, already in a strong position in the industry. We hired a new CPO, Laura Mizon who has an enormous amount of experience in the travel industry to work alongside our CTO Renato Santos and team of developers. We have been working on the most sophisticated technology to enhance our member journey and use AI and search history to connect the most relevant suggestions to our membership base. And this – being in technology – is a whole other challenge in itself!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I guess I would say receive an Honour a few years back, when HM presented me with an MBE. I have been brought up to ‘give back’, and over the years have been involved in a number of incredible organisations. My choice has always been to help causes that are helping children or healthcare organisations, and I set up my own foundation.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

People – having good people with you and around you is key.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Yes, I have been involved in several. I think it is a great opportunity to share knowledge and learn from each other.

If you could give one piece of advice to those questioning starting their own businesses, what would it be?

I set up Little Emperors in 2008 as the world headed into a global recession and the risks couldn’t have been higher. I believed in my product and truly believed I’d found a gap in the market that nothing would stop me from pursuing it. By taking calculated risks, with true determination, I was able to set up a successful company in the midst of a difficult financial time for the world. As we are in a recession for the first time in 11 years, I imagine there are many budding entrepreneurs who are questioning going ahead with their business ideas. Take calculated risks – if you truly believe in your product, now is your time.

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