Aiming to connect travellers to quality rooms in budget hotels, the Indonesian startup is in no rush to embrace international market
Thanks to the emergence of low cost airlines and the birth of online travel services (OTS), budget travelling is now a big deal in the travel and tourism sector.
But there is a catch: While OTS helps customers to book a hotel conveniently, it does nothing in maintaining the quality of the hotels they partner with, resulting in the heartbreak travellers experience when they realised that they have been tricked by Photoshop.
This challenge led to the founding of standardised hotel-booking apps such as Tinggal, which had just started operation in Indonesia on February.
“What we want to achieve is to standardise budget stay experience, and provide gold-standard experience,” said Arjun Chopra, Co-Founder of Tinggal.
“We take care of the basic expectations from a budget hotel experience: clean room, safe environment, features that are working well. If any issue arises, customers just need to call Tinggal and they will be moved to the next best hotel in the area,” he continued.
Tinggal currently partners with over 50 hotels in Jakarta, Bandung, Denpasar, and Malang, and is looking forward to expand to Jogjakarta, Surabaya, and some cities in the Eastern part of the country in the next 12 months.
Though co-founded by a Singaporean entrepreneur, the company is based and operates in Indonesia. It caters for both domestic and international business and leisure travellers, though there is more focus on domestic travellers at the moment.
To mark its entry to the market, Tinggal is backed by a US$1 million seed funding from Mangrove Capital Partners; serial entrepreneur Vikas Saxena; serial entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of WudStay, Prafulla Mathur; and Luxemburg-based Simile Venture Partners.
“Wudstay does not only provide us with fundings, but also the necessary technology and learnings based on their experience in India, a market that very similar to Indonesia. The rest of our investors have also provide us with enough ammunition to start a business in Indonesia,” Chopra said.
Tinggal is being run by a team of nine that is divided between Jakarta and Denpasar. The company is looking forward to expands its team to 36 employees.
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Being a startup in the O2O sector means that companies need to constantly maintain quality of two different fronts, the online and the offline. In order to fulfill that, Tinggal maintains a strict quality control policy for its hotel partners.
When the company scouted a potential partner, they will run a check list of ‘what an ideal hotel partner should have’. Once the partnership is being signed, they will then train the hotel staffs with basic hospitality skills–as many budget hotel staffs are often not a graduate of hotel management schools.
“These are simple things that can significantly change consumer experience. We also do frequent audits and random ‘mystery shopping’ where we’ll book a night as a guest, then only the next day we reveal that we are from Tinggal,” Chopra explained.
“The objective is to identify areas where we can serve customers better, and the hotels actually appreciated this as well,” he stated.
When it comes to marketing strategy, apart from the usual social media marketing, Tinggal also sees referrals as something that has worked well in India and can possibly be implemented in Indonesia.
“No matter how much we shout that we’re the best, when the customers say that ‘this is really the best experience’ then it’s how we can have an impact,” Chopra said.
“Our core business strategy is to focus on customers experience … we want it to be so awesome that it alone can become a marketing tool,” he added.
While many startups cited international expansion as their main goal –often as early as within the first year of their operation– the story is a bit different with Tinggal.
“We don’t want to go to multiple markets [at a time] which can be a distraction to a small business, especially since Indonesia itself is a huge market … with huge potential,” said Chopra.
He also cited focus as one of the company’s key strengths, apart from its tech platform and strong investment, compared to competitors such as NIDA Rooms.
“If you don’t have a focussed effort to capture this market, it becomes very challenging for a small startup for us. So our objective is not to enter ‘six markets in the next six months’,” Chopra explained.
“We want to just focus on Indonesia, understand what the market needs, fine-tuned the product … Once we have done that, we are able to become the number one player in this space, within the next six months,” he concluded.
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