On­line hospi­tal­ity firms ride pop­u­lar­ity wave of home­s­tay busi­ness

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Bidya Sa­pam bidya. s@ htlive. com

Mum­bai: Af­ter a year of scout­ing for the right buyer, 50-yearold Er­min Sarkari de­cided to rent out his two-storey bun­ga­low at Lon­avala as short-term stay for trav­ellers. The fourbed­room prop­erty called EL House is listed on Vista Rooms, a start-up hol­i­day home list­ing site, at prices rang­ing be­tween ₹17,500 to ₹35,000 per night.

Sarkari said his prop­erty is booked al­most all the time since he listed it ear­lier this year. He no longer plans to sell it. “I’m re­ally happy. In fact, I’m plan­ning on rent­ing it out in sim­i­lar way for an­other prop­erty,” said the Mum­bai-based ar­chi­tect.

While Sarkari has rented out an en­tire bun­ga­low, sev­eral oth­ers have opened up their pri­vate apart­ments and rooms to short- term trav­ellers, thanks to the grow­ing num­ber of on­line hospi­tal­ity sites of­fer­ing such ser­vices.

Rid­ing on the pop­u­lar­ity of home­s­tays and the suc­cess of in­ter­na­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion list­ing site Airbnb, sev­eral on­line do­mes­tic travel and hospi­tal­ity firms are rush­ing to list in­di­vid­ual res­i­dences and apart­ments other than ho­tels.

Vista Rooms, which started as an ag­gre­ga­tor of un­branded ho­tels in 2015, has shifted its busi­ness model to list­ing only home­s­tays, par­tic­u­larly lux­ury hol­i­day homes. Amit Da­mani, co-founder of Vista Rooms, said around 100 homes in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Goa have been listed so far in the last one year. The com­pany plans to take around 250 homes in the next nine months. “We ex­pect to clock four times the rev­enue this fi­nan­cial year end as com- pared to the pre­vi­ous year,” he said.

Airbnb, a San Fran­cis­cobased on­line mar­ket place which pi­o­neered the con­cept of rent­ing homes and apart­ments for trav­ellers, is dou­bling their home list­ings in In­dia each year. At present, around 35,000 homes in In­dia are listed on its plat­form. “Airbnb list­ings in In­dia have grown by 115% over the past year. We have also wit­nessed al­most t wo t i mes growth in the num­ber of nights booked on Airbnb in In­dia since 2016,” said Aman­preet Ba­jaj, coun­try head, Airbnb In­dia, in an email re­sponse.

“Airbnb has opened up the home­s­tay mar­ket in In­dia as well,” said Vista Rooms’ Da­mani.

How­ever, un­like Airbnb, most of the do­mes­tic on­line travel and ho­tel firms have fo­cused largely on lux­ury hol­i­day homes and home­s­tays in pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions.

On­line ho­tel ag­gre­ga­tor OYO Rooms, which pi­loted the con­cept of Oyo Homes in 2016, has so f ar l i sted around 2,000 homes, par­tic­u­larly in des­ti­na­tions like Goa, Pondicherry, Udaipur, Mus­soorie and Coorg. “The ra­tio­nale be­hind ex­plor­ing this seg­ment was the abun­dance of empty, unuti­lized ‘hol- iday homes’ or sec­ond homes that own­ers were only able to visit a cou­ple of times a year in In­dia’s favourite des­ti­na­tions,” said Kavikrut, chief growth of­fi­cer, OYO.

Though al­ter­na­tive stays or non-ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions in In­dia cur­rently oc­cu­pies a small por­tion of the en­tire In­dian hospi­tal­ity mar­ket, it is likely to touch $ 3 bil­lion by 2020, ac­cord­ing to a July 2017 re­port by Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group (BCG) and Google.

“Play­ers in the space have the po­ten­tial to in­no­vate as trav­ellers, both do­mes­tic and for­eign, be­come more open to al­ter­na­tive stay op­tions,” it said.

Do­mes­tic travel sites like Make­mytrip and Ya­tra. com started ex­plor­ing the home­s­tay space in the last two years. Ac­cord­ing to Ra­jesh Magow, CEO, Make­MyTrip In­dia, the seg­ment for al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tions like home­s­tays, apart­ments and apart­ments is “mas­sively un­der­pen­e­trated.”

“The kind of ex­cit­ing al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tions that are avail­able in In­dia to­day is a sea change from what was there a cou­ple of years ago,” said Magow. In 2016, Make­Mytrip ac­quired al­ter­na­tive ac­co­mo­da­tion plat­form Right­stay, though the brand was dis­con­tin­ued later.

In­stead Make­mytrip con­tin­ued to list home­s­tays un­der its own web­site.

Magow said such ac­com­mo­da­tions are grow­ing rapidly in cities where there is a short­age of ho­tel rooms. “Dar­jeel­ing, Shil­long, Coorg are some of the places where we are able to cater to the grow­ing de­mand by pro­vid­ing al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions,” Magow said.

MINT/FILE

Al­ter­na­tive stays cur­rently oc­cupy a small por­tion of the in­dian hospi­tal­ity mar­ket

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