The nuances of operating in the hospitality industry can be rather tricky. Renting out rooms may have become a more digitized process now, but policies set by most hotels still remain archaic, specially when it comes to the Indian market.
The most common hassle faced by travelers is the unfair check-in and check-out times, that more than often force them to shell out a full day’s tariff, without even having spent the same amount of time. While room-by-the hour is a common practice abroad, in India there is a huge social stigma attached with it, mostly the fear of having unmarried couples line up for the service.
“We feel it is unethical and unfair to be charged for an entire day, when we use a room for only few hours. Imagine booking a cab for an entire day when you need it only for an hour to go to work,” says Sandeep Jaiswal, who co-founded MiStay, an aggregator service that allows travelers to book rooms at prime properties on the 'Room by the Hour' concept.
Taking on the Taboo
In India, booking a room not based on the number of days, but the number of hours spent is rare and considered morally quastionable, as most would equate it with unmarried couples wanting the space for sex. But Jaiswal and his co-founder Pranav Pabhakar feel the right tutoring and education, has helped diminish the problem to a great extent.
"The biggest challenge was educating the hoteliers as concept of hourly booking with flexible timings was largely unheard of, and hoteliers were sceptical about it because of the stigma associated with the concept," says Jaiswal.
MiStay operates on a travel agent commission basis by offering flexible bookings based on slots like 8 am – 11 am as Morning slot, 12 noon – 7 pm as Day slot, 8 pm – 7 am as Night slot and so on. The model according to Jaiswal helps hoteliers maximise their inventory as allotment by pack of hours helps them optimise their occupancy rate.
The startup that is backed by Axilor has gone on to partner with over 250 hotels across 15 cities in India including chains such as The Park Hotels, The Pride Hotels, Keys Hotel, Sarovar Hotel, Treebo Hotels, Mango Hotels, as well as premium hotels such as Hablis Hotel in Chennai, Genesis Resorts Hotel in Mumbai, Kenilworth Hotel in Kolkata and more.They are hoping to close another significant round of funding soon.
The tech-driven company is not the first to enter this space and knows the shortcomings of operating in a fast-moving industry like hospitality where sevaral ventures have have to shutdown in the recent past.
"We believe technology will play a major role in creating differentiation as the model scales up further. While the concept might appear simple, executing it successfully while keeping the customer experience at the core requires dealing with several operational and logistical complications that comes along, " says Jaiswal.