Do you remember the days when you have to hire a cab for the entire day even though you needed to use it for a few hours? I guess no. After the dent made by services like Ola and Uber in the cab industry, it is hard to imagine booking a cab for an entire day when you need it only to go to work.
Unfortunately, this has not changed when it comes to hotel booking. Travelling is something which everyone loves. But what makes a travel costly; is the stay at a hotel. Even if you are travelling to give your exam or attend any business meeting for which you need a room just for few hours, you have to do a full day booking (12 noon – 12 noon) in a hotel, which in turns make your travel cost rise.
Sandeep Jaiswal and Pranav Prabhakar, after experiencing the same thing they felt it is unethical and unfair to be charged for an entire day when they use a room for only a few hours. And this is where they stumbled upon the idea for catering the need and founded MiStay, with the aim of breaking the age-old traditions and changing the rules of hospitality to make travel flexible and fair to travellers.
MiStay is a travel tech company which allows booking hotel rooms by the pack of hours with flexible check-in and check-out times.
“The problem with rigid full day booking affects every kind of travellers. MiStay allows travellers can book a room for an appropriate combination of slots and pay only for the time stayed. It offers, booking based on slots (8 am – 11 am (Morning slot), 12 noon – 7 pm (Day slot), 8 pm – 7 am (Night slot)). This not only fills the needs of frequent business travellers as well as leisure travellers who require room for less than a day or with flexible timings but also gives hotels a channel to increase their occupancy and revenue per available room,” says Pranav Prabhakar, Co-founder and CTO, MiStay.
Meet The Innovators
Sandeep Jaiswal who is an IIT Madras alumnus has 2 years of experience in management consulting. Most recently, he worked with strategy consulting firm, Essex Lake Group, where he devised profit enhancement solutions for one of the largest banks in South Africa, and also filed 2 patents for developing internal analytical tools. Prior to joining Essex, he co-founded a for-profit social enterprise AmrutDhara which was aimed at reducing the environmental hazard from bottled water by providing a sustainable alternative.
Whereas, Pranav Prabhakar, a computer science graduate from IIT Madras with over 3 years of experience in design and product development has worked as software engineer at LinkedIn. Prior to joining LinkedIn, he had founded a new media startup, Cinemagrapher, where he developed an innovative product to help photographers and marketers automatically create cinemagraphs from short videos. Earlier, he had also co-founded HireFellas, a curated marketplace for photographers.
At MiStay, Jaiswal is responsible for driving the overall vision of the company to ensure customer delight while leading the on-ground operations, partnerships and business development for the sustainable growth of the company. Whereas Prabhakar leads the technology and design to build innovative solutions for customers while making sure that all efforts are grounded in user-centered principles.
MiStay has partnered with around 115 hotels across 8 cities in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon). The hotels range from 2 star to 5 star hotels including some chains like Pride hotels, Mango hotels, etc. With an initial investment of Rs 4 lacs, the founders developed the entire platform in-house. Launched in April 2016, the website is the consumer facing portal through which one can make a booking at a hotel.
“We have also developed MiStay Extranet, which is a software provided to the partner hotels for managing room rates and inventory. Later in October 2016, we have launched MiStay for Business, a portal developed for corporates, where the travel managers in any company can make bookings on behalf of the company employees,” says Prabhakar.
Duo has also developed the effective payment mode. They have 2 models of payment- Pay at Hotel, where customer makes direct payment at the hotel in which TAC is collected by MiStay for all bookings for a month at the end of the month. Another is Pay Online, where customer pays online to MiStay at the time of booking. The net amount after deducting TAC is transferred to the hotel before the guest checks in.
“In case of last minute booking or a booking happens on a non working day, payment is transferred on the day of check in or next working day. Hotels can opt for either or both modes of payment,” informs Prabhakar.
MiStay takes around 20% of the booking amount as referral commission from the partner hotels on the bookings done through the platform.
What Makes Them Stand Strong In The Market
If we look at the figuers, hotel industry in India is a $20 billion market and MiStay is targeting the business travel segment primarily, which is estimated to constitute around $12-14 billion of the total hotel booking market. In India, this market has just started getting recognized. And various OTAs like Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, etc. as well as some other startups working on the same concept are the key competitors for MiStay. But if we talk about the global market, startup competes with players like DayUse.com and ByHours.com.
“Going forward, direct tie-ups with corporates to manage their employees’ business travel will be a key customer acquisition channel. Hence, the offline travel agents serving the corporates would be competitor in that market,” says Prabhakar.
Despite competing with companies like MayMyTrip, Goibibo etc. there USP, extreme due-diligence in partnering with hotels is something which makes founders stand strong in the market.
“Apart from the two core pillars – paying only for time stayed, and flexible check-in/check-out times, another key aspect that differentiates MiStay from any other player in the industry is the extreme due-diligence in partnering with hotels. All the partner hotels are strategically located near key business hubs of the cities or near the transit areas like airports and railway stations. More than 75% of the MiStay partner hotels have Tripadvisor rating more than 4 out of 5,” says Prabhakar.
In the short span of time, this Bengaluru-based startup has seen 36% of repeated customers. MiStay, which was one of the 10 startups nationally selected for Axillor Ventures Accelerator program intend to make their every customer their brand evangelist by ensuring them the best hotel experience.
“We have already started seeing sudden growth in last few weeks. We have seen more than 200% month-on-month growth, and this is likely to increase multi-folds as we start tapping various growth channels,” concludes Prabhakar..
Online penetration in hotel booking in India is only around 20% and if we talk about corporate hotel booking market in India, it is very fragmented, unorganized and largely served offline. However, the industry is slowing moving towards becoming more online. With the help off mushrooming startups like Mistay, Self-Booking Technology (SBTs) are going to be the trend in corporate travel market in coming years.