Kanesh Avili speaks of the challenges faced by today’s hospitality industry, and what the startup plans to do about it
Launched in December 2015, NIDA Rooms is part of the new wave of travel and hospitality startups aiming to accomplish what incumbent hotel booking platforms cannot: Go beyond booking rooms to provide a well-rounded hospitality experience.
It partners with low budget hotels and advises them to follow its specific branding and service guidelines, thus helping them to sell its low occupancy vacant rooms via NIDA Rooms’ web and mobile app.
In April, the virtual hotel operator announced that it has received a US$4.2 million of funding led by Convergence Ventures and CyberAgent Ventures.
“We will utilise the funds to further expand our hotel penetration and market share in the Southeast Asia region,” writes NIDA Rooms CEO and Founder Kanesh Avili in an e-mail interview with e27.
“Specifically, it will be used for increasing our hotel footprint, technology enhancements, branding, marketing, establishing distribution channels and improving customer service reliability,” he adds.
The following is an edited excerpt of our conversation on current trends in Southeast Asia’s travel and hospitality industry, and the opportunities that the startup plans to tap.
NIDA Rooms is currently available in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Do you have any plan to expand further, or would you rather focus on these markets?
We are currently focussing on capturing the market in these countries and once we consolidate our number one position in these markets, we will expand to Vietnam and East Asia in the future.
What are the most popular trends in the travel and hospitality sector nowadays? Especially for Indonesia, do you notice any particular user behaviour that businesses need to keep in mind?
Travellers are savvy these days: Value for money and convenience are significant factors when it comes to this industry.
Businesses, particularly hoteliers, would have to ensure that they satisfy the requirements, which is very much related to NIDA Rooms’ 3Rs: Getting the room at the Right location, with the Right price and Right quality.
How do you plan to stay ahead in competition, especially since now there are startups offering similar services such as Tinggal.com?
Focussing on the customer and their experience …Whether it is finding and booking the right place, or staying in a hotel … [All of them are] keys to our competitive advantage.
In line with that strategy, we plan to expand the distribution network and focus on quality of customer experience.
Within the past four months since NIDA Rooms’ launch, what are the key lessons that you’ve learned about operating a tech startup in the travel/hospitality industry? Considering there is a strong online-to-offline element in the sector
The key lessons we have learned are: Technology penetration in travel/hospitality industry is quite low. Even the online players have very archaic systems and processes in the back end.
[Meanwhile] most technological advances are on the consumer side. It was quite challenging while integrating with distribution channels and hotel partners.
With our background in e-commerce, we automated the entire front-end to back-end process such as hotels to NIDA Rooms, NIDA Rooms to customers and hotel partners to ensure rooms are booked and stays are completed. [This is an effort] to stay competitive and on top of things.
Since the model is new, most ecosystem players have not adapted their systems and technologies to integrate with a Virtual Hotel Operator. We are paving new paths and innovating in areas that were unheard of before.
What is your target — and big agenda — for 2016?
We plan to achieve 7,500 hotel partners by the end of 2016. Expand the penetration with our distribution network partners and increase bookings.
Image Credit: NIDA Rooms
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