FIndMyStay spots gaps in India’s online accommodation market

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India’s FindMyStay believes that the merger of MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group creates an even bigger distinction between its reverse bidding platform and the combined entity’s approach to hotels.

FindMyStay has a niche in the crowded Indian hotel market. Travellers can select dates, location within a city, star categories and suggest a price they are willing to pay.

FindMyStay then searches its inventory to find deals which fit the criteria, with all offers valid for 48 hours. Payments are processed by FindMyStay.

Hotels load their rates and available inventory via an extranet, which can also connect with the hotel’s PMS and channel managers. There are some 3,000 hotels on FindMyStay’s books, almost of all of which are three-star and above.

Co-founder Rohit Khetrapal is unphased by the prospect of MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group merging to create India’s biggest online travel agency business. While much of their full-service, end-to-end business is not competitive with FindMyStay, the pair do have a strong traditional hotel booking business.

He says the merger is “very good news” for FindMyStay, both in terms of its relationship with customers and with its hotel partners.

“There is no differentiation between the two brands’ hotel offerings as they both have discounting built into their DNA – that is how they have grown the business by irrational, out of pocket deals with hotels. But even with their discounts we still offer customers a better price because we have worked hard with our hotel partners to make sure that we can generate demand for them when they need it.”

Fellow co-founder Simran Sial explained that the typical FindMyStay customer was booking a week in advance, although as India approaches the holiday season the booking window is now eleven days, a significant move in a market where walk-in bookings are still common.

“For hotels there is little value in last-minute bookings. Most business demand is late, which means there is nothing available for leisure guests. We put the hotel inventory in front of customers in advance which gives the hotels business when they need it.”

FindMyStay does not intend to work with every hotel in every category in every city, Sial says:

“We focus our attention on a limited number of hotels in a location so that we can drive demand to hotels who want to work with us.”

Mobile is the dominant channel for FindMyStay. Currently around 25% of bookings are via its mobile web site, 40% via its iOS and Android apps with the balance via desktop.

Android and iOS volumes are roughly the same, although iOS bookings have a higher ticket value while Android tends to convert better.

The business completed an undisclosed pre-Series A funding round this July, led by Indian Angel Network, and is currently looking for additional capital in order to ramp up its customer acquisition footprint. Sial says:

“We’re growing by triple digits every quarter, and that is without serious investing in marketing. We have been concentrating on developing our technology and growing our inventory – there is no point in spending big on customer acquisition if the tech and inventory isn’t there.”

Khetrapal adds that FindMyStay is seeing repeat customer rates of 38%.

And it has seen that many of its customers are business travellers who can plan ahead, often from India’s growing SME sector.

“We’ve recently launched ‘FindMyStay for Business’ which we think can be an enterprise solution for corporates via a dedicated business log-in which can include business rules customised to the organisation”.

Related reading from Tnooz:

Startup pitch: Findmystay lets people bid for a hotel reservation (Feb 2014)

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