Hotelplan.cz - the arabic way
How I started my business, gave job to Farouk Hamzi, helped to found him his company Farux s.r.o., helped him to get his residence permit in Czech Republic, and how Farouk Hamzi with know-how acquired in my company, financing from Money he made in my company, is building a competition site hotelplan.cz.
I started my business full time in february 2000, when with a colleague we rented office space at current adress in Prague 1 (city centre), and when I left my long time job of employee of tour agency Premiant, decided to build a big internet accommodation business. I knew languages, I knew Prague, but I had very limited experience with internet and no knowledge about the hotel business. Also, except of a small private loan I had no Money to start my business with. The start was hard, because of lack of experience booth with hotels and internet, the Money soon dried up. I had no Money to pay my bills, and was considering the future of my dreamed business. Friend of a Friend JUDr. Rybin offered me for free table at his office, which I have accepted and survived there, thanks to his generosity for a long time. My parents, at which home I at age of 28 lived gave me Money to be able to pay ticket of public transport to be able to get to the office. It were hard times, but I was stubborn, I kept on trying, I kept on learning how internet works, how to register pages on search engines to get the top positions on search engines, to get most traffic, and most of the clients. In year 2001 it started to work, as I had no employees, the reservations were made by company Itas Tour, with which we shared the commisions from made reservations. In january of 2001 we started to provide visitors of our webpages with our own reservation services. We hired first employees..
In august 2002 was flood in Prague, we were left without phone lines and electricity in our office, so we moved some of our computers to close by hotel. We worked every day, just to answer calls from relatives of clients of hotels in flooded areas. The flood damaged our business, but we have survived.
In 2002 we had a very good business, about 10 employees, many visitors of our webpages generated enough revenue, and we were accepting via bank, credit cards payments. We were loaded with cash, as we have taken according to our agrement with clients, from his credit card the value of 1st night of accommodation, as a deposit even several months before the client has arrived, in the day of his arrival we have charged the rest of the price and after he left the hotel, and after the hotel has issued an invoice we paid to the hotel. It was great, as we had a very positive cash flow.. As we had an advanced Money, we could spend more than we have actualy made, in order to invest into the future, as we did. Well, it almost breaked our neck, as at the end of 2002 we were informed by bank, that we are breaking our agreement, as we have Money Order agreement and not E-commerce one. It was very strange, that from the start at march, everybody involved knew, how it is going, including in the name of the merchant there was www.motylek.com which is clearly an internet adress.. It was even very hard to get a writen statement from the bank, even via e-mail. When the agreement was terminated from the site of the bank, we were left without cash, on the beggining of year ie. january, february which is very low season, with no commisions from hotels, with over 1.mil Czk of debt. It has almost breaked our neck. We had two options, we could announce bankrupcy.. and write off that debt. Or we could go on, work hard, and pay all that debts. We decided to work hard. At the end of the summer of 2003 we paid all the debts. It was very hard, some hotels they understood, we are without Money, and left us time to pay it. Some hotels were very not so at ease, there were threads of lawyers etc. One of the worst creditors was a transfer company of that time, with which owner we drunk beer several times.
Year 2004 was just fine for the business. The promise of entrance and than the real entrance of Czech Republic into European Union and low cost airlines flying to Prague made that year a boom year for accommodation business in Prague.. We have really enjoyed it..
In 5 years, we have build, under my supervision a stable, profitable company with a very good staff. In this time, I had to learn a lot of new things, for some of them, there were no manual pages, I had to learn, how internet works as such, how costumers behave while surfing/booking on the internet, I have to learn, how to hire and sometimes hire employees, which seems to be an easy task, but it is not. If you accept somebody, who is not suitable for the job or will not stay for a longer time, it is a huge waste of time and money. Even worse is, when you have to fire somebody. I have to learn something about computers, and computer security, in the beggining we started with Windows 98, with just basic security. Because of continuous security problem, and with more computers in local network, we also have faced a legal problems with licence agreement for used software. We decided to switch from unstable and unsecure windows to Linux. It was not an easy task, but we have sucseeded, and now not even all our computers run on Linux, so we have no viruses in our computers, and no problems with illegal software, but as I saw a new business oportunity, we created web dedicated to linux www.linuxsoft.cz which after 1,5 year belongs to the top3 czech linux sites. The number of visitors, mainly from .cz domain is still increasing, there are also authors from other linux sites migrating to our site, which can mean we do something good. I also have to learn something about law in this country, as sometimes we get letter from someone threatening us with lawyer, so I have to dig the corresponding law, and explain to the thretor how wrong is he. Sometime we have to apply to threat of lawyer, of even the law. This is specialy hard with the employees, who decide to start using our know-how the same business as we do. For that reason I decided to dedicate more time to study of law, and for that reason we created law oriented site zakony-online.cz.
It was so hard to find a good and reliable programmer, desperate we also decided to support new programmers when we have financed the biggest tutorial of programming language PHP at www.linuxsoft.cz/php which is available free on the internet.
All the Money we make, they go back to the company, as I want to take this as a long time business, which can make me some Money, even when I go on pension. Also I know, how this field is competitive, so we have to work hard to keep track with the competition.
In summer 2002 I got CV from a tunisian citizen living in Czech Republic, Farouk Hamzi. Well, the process of acepting new employees is not easy one, you do not have to have on mind only if the person you are accepting is suitable for that job, but also if there are real chances he/she stays for a long time. The longer a motivated employee stays, the better for the company, the more experience in that particular job he/she has, the less it cost to waste Money on new appliances, ads in newspapers etc. So when I was reading CV of Farouk Hamzi, I was really pleased. Person with experience in tourism, knowing several languages, married with czech girl. I remember when I was married in Chile, and I as a foreigner was looking for a job there, it was very, very hard, and except of some part time jobs which a got thanks to Czech Embassy in Chile, I could not find anything. I was thinking, that a arab in Czech republic will have an hard Job in Prague, czech managers will not take him, neither will american of germen, neither will french ones. I tought, giving him a job, would help him, even maybe made him greatefull. Farouk worked hard, for apropriate amount of Money. We even become friends, at least I tought so, and I tought, I know him. Well after common 2 years in the office, I can say, I spend with him more time than with my chilian wife :) Well, everything just worked fine, we survived flood of 2002, our financial crisis of 2003, except of october of 2004. I am in the office almost everyday, so I can see, what is going on, how is who working, with boys we regulary (sometimes too often) we drink beer and talk about all what happens in the office.
In 2003 Farouk was before the expiration of his permit of stay in Czech republic, as reason for this permit, it means his marriage with czech girl broke, also he lost official place of stay, as parents of his exwife announced end of his stay at adress of their home.
As I was interested in him working for our company and I considered him to be my friend, I helped him to stay here. I convinced my father to let Farouk stay officialy at his house (without official place to stay you can not apply for permit to stay), which my father after me reassuring him, that Farouk is a good friend and that I know him, accepted. Also, to have a bullet proove reason to prolong his stay, Farouk got a 20% stake in www.motylek.com s.r.o. company. As he had ot leave back to Tunisia to ask for the permit at the Czech Embassy there, and for return he needed a writen invitation, I provided him with that invitation.
At 2004 I helped him to create his own company Farux s.r.o. , the creation was made by my friend lawyer, with seat in my office, with Farouk homes adress at my parents house.
In october 2004 I noticed strange change in behaviour. Lack of interest for work, regullar late arrivals, so I let admin of our local network to install VNC server/client on his (it was my company computer, which he used to fullfill our working agreement) and mine computer, so I could see in real time, what is happening. I was shocked, apart of deleting some e-mails from clients, I saw his comunication with one of the arabic friends in french about the domain hotelplan.cz, and with a design and web studio about creation of logo for that domain and webpages.. (behaviour of the last days of his presence in the office, on the office computer is recorded). I could not beliave what I saw. I always considered Farouk as one of most leyal workers.. First we lost Money because he deleted e-mails he should answer, second he broke our agreement (well, actually 3 of them) about the "keeping of comercial secret", about all information he acquired when working for our company. To 30.10.2004 I let Farouk sign agreement about ending of our agreement about renting an office space for his company in spaces in our office, I also let him to sign agreement terminating our cooperation. He looked surprised, on my notice about hotelplan.cz he answered, he does not know, what I am talking about. On my e-mail day after, trying to find answers for what happened Farouk answered:
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Re: info about what happened Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2004 19:58:40 +0200 (CEST) From: farouk hamzi [farouk @ seznam.cz] Reply-To: farouk hamzi [farouk @ seznam.cz] To: Frantisek Hucek - www.motylek.com [frantisek @ motylek.com] Ahoj Frantisek, First I would like to inform you that I've never used information from = your company for personal reason and I will never use them as I am not = interested in the same kind of business. --- My usage of the PC and the Internet was more than normal ( and you know= well which pages I was viewing}, I've never opened not serious pages o= r exchanged any information about your company with a foreign person a= nd that's what I will always keep because that's my character. Last point which is hotelplan.cz , I tell you the information without a= ny problem, this is not a secret: I reserved the domain is for a friend= as he doesn't have a CC activated for electronic commerce. Hotelplan.c= z as business is not oriented for incoming as you think, the idea of ho= telplan.cz is about outgoing and this is what I proposed to you few mon= ths ago, but I sow no motivation or big interest from your side so I ga= ve it up. As I already mentioned the domain is for a friend and he asked my opini= on about the logo that you already checked. And the activity of this fr= iend is personalized travels to different exotic destinations including= Tunisia. So as you can see I need no information from your company about local h= otels or commissions... --- S pozdravem Farouk Hamzi
Well, I was very suprised, that even after recomended letter from my lawyer, warning Farouk Hamzi about consequences of his behaviour, even with his assurance from 30.10.2004 /see above/, he 5 months after that start his webpage dedicated to accommodation mainly in Prague www.hotelplan.cz, where are even same parts taken directly from our page www.motylek.com such as transfers (there is nowhere on the web pricelist of the company we work with, nowhere we write the name of the transfer company we work for), there are identical cancelation condition, tours of Prague are taken from the same company as ours (Premiant City Tour), we get information from our business partners, that Farouk Hamzi is contacting them for cooperation, and so on, and so on.. There is no problem to copy someones webpages, apart of breaking the autors copyright :), much more harder is to get the inside knowledge, how the pages works, how the clients behave, which business partners to contact. It took us several years for us to find the apropriate company for transfers, there are no problems at all, in case there are some problems, there are always solved. I just can not accept the idea, that I worked hard for several years, no holliday, no personal fortune, just overveight and sleeping disorders, and somebody just comes in, steals all my know-how, and uses Money he made working for me to run a competing business..
I started to think it all over, what I made bad. Too little Money? No, at the contrary, bad working conditions, like everyones else, maybe even better, business without future? Not at all :)
A strange think occured to me, when I was looking at the history of domain hotelplan.cz I saw, it was registered already at 5.4.2004, it means 7 months, before Farouk was fired.. Hotelplan is hardly a domain used to show collection of tunisian folclore dresses, it is clearly domain used for hotel business. Also, as it is seen outsite hotelplan.ch, hotelplan.de, hotelplan.nl, hotelplan.it, hotelplan.fr it is used in all cases for travel related business, which is logical. Also, it is primary used by Swiss company Hotelplan A.G., which as I found is in no way connected with hotelplan.cz
Dear Mr Hucek No, our company is home-based in Switzerland and is not related to the website down-mentioned. Best regards Michael Bischofberger -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht----- Von: Frantisek Hucek [mailto:frantisek @ hucek.cz] Gesendet: Mittwoch, 30. März 2005 14:00 An: o_VZD Direct Sale / Internet Travel Shop Betreff: Allgemeine Fragen / Kontakt: Dear All, I would like to ask you, if you are in any way related with website hotelplan.cz ? thank you for information Frantisek Hucek
So, well.. even the name is stolen.. Well, when I tought it all over again, I started to change my point of view. First, as I found, there is no problem for an arabic person with language knowledge and experience in tourism to find a job in Prague, to my surprise.. Founder of 3rd biggest travel agency in Czech Republic, Exim Tours Ing. Ferid Nasr is from Tunisia. There are also several other companies owned by tunisian people. So, contrary to what I tought, it is no such a problem to find a job to arabic, or to be exact arabic-tunisian. So why was Farouk interested to work just in our company? When I saw the history on nic.cz the local domain registrator, there I found domain voyages.cz which Farouk Hamzi registered at: 12.03.2002, which is 2 months and 2 weeks from the date 28.5.2002 when he signed first agreement with our company (at that time Vozicky s.r.o, which were in charge or www.motylek.com web). Coincidence? Or was that all well tought plot? The more and more I think about it, the more I am convinced, it was.. a well tought plan, maybe even from the very start (his marriage with czech girl), just to get the residence, his work in our company, where he was a part of our team and actualy apart of source codes of our web had acess to everything.. A well tought plot, to collect as many information about that business as possible, and use it than to build it's own company..
I write this lines, to let others know.. not to make the same mistake as I did.
Frantisek Hucek in Prague 7.4.2005
Because of legal complain for content of this website for unfair competition, this site was from 16.11.2005 till 11.1.2006 not working. We were from precaution trying to find out, if there really could not be any interference with czech law, as we have not found, that there is any, the previous content is displayed again.
Detailed information about this case according to czech law is available in czech at: zakony-online.cz/farouk.
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