In the last 5 to 6 years, there has been a huge surge in number of hotel booking options available online and offline. Today if you want to book a hotel you can do that from a travel website, from the hotel’s website as well as by calling up the hotel and through offline vendors. Though there are so many options available to book a room, on an average, 40% rooms in hotels across India are empty on any given day.
Ideally, you should be able to book a hotel room even on the same day at a decent price, right?
Any hotel should take a last minute booking at a decent price to improve occupancy, right?
Try booking a hotel room at the last minute in India and you will see how ridiculously expensive it is to make last minute hotel reservations. This really sounds absurd given the occupancy data but the old principle of urgent-the-need-more-the-price seems to be at work even today. RoomsTonite, a last minute hotel booking app now solves this problem for the travelers as well as the hotels.
RoomsTonite is India’s first mobile App for last-minute hotel room booking that offers the best of both worlds – great hotels at great prices. The company today has more than 1,000 hotels listed across 190 + cities in India. They help travelers get a room at an excellent price and help hotel owners make some extra revenue.
RoomsTonite is launched by Suresh John, a serial entrepreneur who also launched two other hospitality technology companies – IDS Next and RezNext. IDS Next has been in the hospitality industry for the last 27 years. With deep roots in the hospitality industry, John observed the huge gap between hotel room supply at the last minute, and the need for it. With mobile usage spiking in recent times in India, John crafted a plan to reduce this gap with the help of mobile channel. As a result, RoomsTonite was launched in beta state in June 2014.
The approach taken by RoomsTonite to stay as a mobile-app-only company is again a confirmation of the growing trend of the focus of internet industry on mobiles. The mobile-app-only company does not have any plans to have booking options through website. It has a corporate website for information about the product, company, team members, et all.
RoomsTonite knows that speed, trust and reliability are important in the last minute hotel booking industry in which they operate. The company is trying to create an extremely reliable product for their customers to use. Usually when people are booking at the last minute they do not have time to check reviews and therefore RoomsTonite only lists those hotels that have review rating of more than 3.5 out of 5 on various hotel review sites. This process guarantees that the customers will get a good place to stay when they book via RoomsTonite. The company also makes sure that only those hotels that have handled negative customer feedback very well are listed on their site.
The company is also focused on building a fast and reliable product. Recently, RoomsTonite launched an update that has a significantly better payment experience where customers can store their cards for faster hotel reservation process, and also the app automatically reads the user’s SMS for OTP (one time password) and applies it so that users don’t have to close the app, open their SMS, copy the OTP, and paste it in RoomsTonite app. All of these clutters are now removed.
RoomsTonite is also building a personalization engine that will take into consideration a number of data points before creating a personalized experience for the users.
Since its inception, the RoomsTonite app has seen more than 40,000 downloads. Their team today is more than 40 people strong, a four times increase in team size in last 4 month.
“What worked for us is that we went to the market quickly. We built a minimal viable product (MVP), ensured the happy flow is smooth and neat in the product, and we went to market fast. We saw how people are using our product and took their feedback to develop future iterations of the product. In times of today when speed is everything, if you delay GTM (goto-market) your company is bound to become invalid. It is always a challenge to build a strong team and create a good team balance in startup at an early stage. The challenges of recruitment in a startup are totally different. Hire and Fire doesn’t always work well. Managing people in a startup is the key deal and it makes or breaks the success of the company,” said, Karthick Prabu, Chief Product Officer of RoomsTonite.
Recently, RoomsTonite launched a travel companion service called RoomsTonite Assist, a 24×7 service to help travellers with enquiries and specific needs in all stages of travel: Pre-stay, during hotel stay, and post-stay. RoomsTonite Assist service is aimed at enhancing customer comfort and experience – it offers solutions from informing the hotel about an unexpected flight delay to purchasing movie tickets, sending couriers, co-coordinating with the hotel on any special room requests, locating the nearest restaurants and entertainment to booking a taxi, among other value added services.
In the next quarter the company plans to expand overseas and plans to add atleast one overseas location to their list. Besides this, the company is also adding more and more hotels to their list in India every day. They look at the queries they get from their customers and wherever there is more demand, they add more hotels in those locations.
Customer delight is a key ingredient in the make of the company. The company believes that it is a huge deal that customers who do not know them are spending so much money through their product. The company has thanked their customers by giving something exclusive to their customers with each booking. Currently, RoomsTonite is running a promotion called RTMAGIC, where customer can get upto Rs 1,000 discount on their booking by applying the promo code “RTMAGIC”.