There is a certain amount of uneasiness in the mainstream hospitality industry prompted by the silent proliferation of a parallel industry mushrooming quite rapidly in their backyard. For the time being, the mainstream industry is ignoring this revolution. But the way this silent revolution is fast catching up pan-India, mainstream industry will be forced to take cognizance of it sooner than later. New age start ups like AirBnB, Oyo Rooms, Zo Rooms, etc. are unabashedly converting vast number of disoriented budget hotel owners into the branded space which mainstream branded players in the budget space can ill afford to overlook. Those behind these ‘new age franchisee’ concepts are hands-on with technology, management, and social media marketing, and above all have stable fund backing from known VC firms.
The concept being put forward by these start-up hospitality ventures is quite new to India and still evolving. But there are studies from various matured markets where this concept is already setting trends for travel accommodation. A recent survey conducted by Exceltur in Spain had some startling revelations. The number of beds listed in online accommodation rental services like AirBnB in Spain far exceeds the number of beds offered by the mainstream players like hotels and other regulated lodging units. Against the regulated inventory of 2.4 million, the new age online rental companies have listed inventory of 2.78 million on offer in Spain.
The concept, no doubt, can work wonders in the Indian market. Despite having large number of guest accommodation options within, India faces shortage, and therefore demand and supply crisis, in the quality, standardized, and branded space. If issues in terms of consistencies of products and services can be addressed, sections of the currently disjointed accommodation establishments in the unorganized segment can be elevated to the standards guests generally look for. This conversion is surely happening in India, if the recent growth figures of a few of the brands in this space are anything to be believed. It is also an opportunity for B&B operators, guest house owners, small time hoteliers who do not have the wherewithal to invest in technology to market their products, to get the required visibility and respectability by aligning with a branded platform.
After all, consumer behaviour in relation to booking hotels is fast changing, thanks to the explosion in communication technology. Especially with the proliferation of smart phones, people’s confidence in booking online has strengthened manifold. If mere online visibility was enough a few years back, today, not online presence, but facilitating convenience and consumer experience to buy products online using all types of gadgets, is extremely important.
P Krishna Kumar
Bureau Chief, New Delhi