India-based RoomnHouse offers travellers alternate accommodation options by allowing private accommodation owners to list their properties on the site.
These accommodation options could be a shared room, apartment, private room, boat/tree house, service apartment, villa, farm house, etc.
The service is similar to the industry leader in this segment - Airbnb.
RoomnHouse was founded in November 2012 by Amit Solanki and Rakesh Singh. It also received seed fund from Euphoria Ventures (the firm has also invested in tours and activities platform Thrillophilia)
Singh believes this alternate accommodation market is massive since its largely an unorganized industry, and it is also growing very fast because of the lower price bracket.
He estimates the marketsize of alternate accommodation at 15-20 % of overall travel market.
When it comes to competition, RoomnHouse says they aren't aware of any established player in their focus market of South East Asia and Middle East.
Vine video about RoomnHouse
Q&A with Singh below:
What problem does the business solve?
RoomnHouse is a community marketplace for alternative accommodation where individuals rent out their own properties.
It’s a refined search engine for people who plan to list their properties and for guests who are looking for an easier, unambiguous and secure alternative to expensive hotels.
Our service can be summarized in three points:
Revenue model and strategy for profitability?
- We increase the supply for affordable and good quality accommodations for short stays
- We solve the lack of trust in short term renting
- We help guests find accommodation up to 70% cheaper than a hotel, while the hosts generate extra income
We will have multiple revenue models focusing on convenience charge (per transaction), and concierge services.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
The idea evolved from our own travel experiences and the struggle we went through with limited budget choices.
On the product front - we have gone through about three rounds of pivot/changes in the model so that it is user-friendly, safe and secure.
Why should people or companies use the business?
It serves three essential requirement of travel: Cost, comfort and security.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition?
We use online as well as offline mechanism to increase our reach. Our marketing campaigns drive lot of push and pull method in customer acquisition.
However, we have witnessed success in referrals and repeat customer trends.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
Very difficult to answer this question, however, our desire would be that RoomnHouse platform is well established across South East Asia and Middle East countries.
Also, we wish the platform is successful in serving its core purpose of cost effective and alternate accommodation market.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another start-up to help it out?
Travel industry has grown and brought its own challenges. Hence, there is a need to think out of the box and create something which serves the core purpose of the community.
According to us, inclusiveness is a very important driver of social culture. Hence, our CCS (Cost, Convenience and Safety) strategy is actual a differentiating factor for RoomnHouse amongst travel industry.
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
We would like to align ourselves with Amazon because we believe in providing world-class customer experience to the community by leveraging technology.
In the first year of operation, RoomnHouse has managed to launch its service in seven cities in India. However, the inventory (apart from Pune) seems limited in most of the cities.
Though it can be seen as yet-another-Aibnb model, the alternate accommodation market is still unorganized in India and other markets where the startup focuses on. So, the market is open for many new players.
However, RoomnHouse's differentiating factors - cost, convenience, and safety - aren't convincing much as differentiators when compared to its competitors.
The startup's competitors include India-based RoomLion (TLabs here), Oravel and TheOtherHome, Singapore-based Roomorama, TripVillas and TheVillaGuide. Of course, the biggies in this segment such as Airbnb and HomeAway cannot be ignored.
This year will be a key year for the startup for various reasons:
To stay competitive among other similar startups in India, it needs to expand its inventory base. For example, a similar service Oravel has presence across 60+ locations in India with 3000+ listings.Expand to non-tourist destinations in India - a segment where players like Stayzilla focuses onTo set an operational base for its South East Asian and Middle East market expansion in the future