All through my career as a travel photojournalist the only issue which gave me nightmares was getting the right type of accommodation at the best possible prices and at the best tourist location. And I am sure every tourist or a business traveler must have gone through this phase. You normally end up compromising either on the budget or on the quality of the hotel and this happens even when a lot of good hotels in the right location have plenty of rooms vacant for the night.
Yes dear, this is one of the sickest issues of being a traveler besides other issues like local travel and food. After a long day out in the field, all you want in the evening is a nice place to sit out and a relaxing bed in a clean and comfortable hotel room.
Well, the last few years have given us some kind of solutions through the Online Travel Agencies (OTA). About 20 years back this concept of OTA was introduced and it gave the traveler some relief. The OTA concept was a two-way solution to both hoteliers and consumers.
For hoteliers, OTAs offered online visibility, flexibility in rates and seasons, and no fixed fee, among other facilities. In a nutshell, the adoption of OTAs proved to be a great showcase for hoteliers’ businesses, resulting in increased sale. For consumers, it was an opportunity to find hotels at a single place and the liberty to choose accordingly.
But this had its own merits and demerits. The prices were controlled by OTA and they used to charge exorbitant commissions. All this resulted for a loss of revenue to the actual consumer and to the hotel too. And there was a need of another option of online hospitality which gave flexibility for the consumer.
Mr. Inder Sharma, an entrepreneur and an environmentalist and founder of many a consumer friendly online applications has come up with a great idea of floating an application through which a consumer can bid for last minute reservations at a great price.
The idea behind the project is that – on average at least 30% of the rooms in each hotel are vacant at any time. Whether its peak season or lean season – these vacant rooms have a cost and when they are not taken up result in a revenue loss.
Mr. Sharma’s idea is to provide these rooms to last minute check-ins or to consumers who are looking for a bargain. He floated an online platform – www.hotelbids.com for the purpose and he says that at Hotelbids you don’t search, the search comes to you. You just decide how much you want to pay and also the services that you want, and the rest comes to you. HB gives you the power to do it all on your laptop or the smartphone.
How it works
The platform follows a bidding model. Users need to open the Hotelbids site or app, select a city, date, type of room and the price they want to pay. Their work is done.
Requests go to various hotels and users receive multiple acceptances from hotels. They can now pick the hotel according to their preference.
For more information on the APP – please visit www.hotelbids.com
A little about Mr Inder Sharma:
Mr Sharma is the founder of many business websites, namely Hotel.com, Hotelsupplies.com, UPHILL Fuel Technologies, IBOS.com, ZYGOR Energy, etc. He is a visionary, a serial entrepreneur, an angel investor and an environmentalist seeking practical solutions to everyday problems. Mr. Sharma has founded 15 companies in the last 20 years varying from hospital solutions to energy efficient lighting. After 7 years of a successful career in real estate as a licensed broker, he moved to the internet space in 1996.
Hotelbids.com, his latest Application has been launched in India and will be launching this bidding platform in USA in January 2017. During a brief meeting with Mr Sharma, we were informed that, online visibility on OTAs is an expensive business now. It comes with a high cost. The rate flexibility is under special conditions that guarantee income for the agency. Though the concept of “no fixed fee” still exists, the commission percentage has increased exponentially. So OTAs are wringing the business of hoteliers dry as the former have been able to create a monopoly in the market.
“We are giving consumers power to negotiate. At present, we have 3,000 hotels on our platform priced in the range of Rs 700-7,000 per stay. Now, we are moving ahead to bring luxury hotels on board. I am a founder member of Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AHOA), hence we are looking to set-up business in the US and also in Sri Lanka by January,” Sharma said.
Many other corporate houses have come forward and funded hotelbids. Micromax’s co-founder Rahul Sharma is one of them. Also a few investors in USA are in talks currently with Mr Sharma.
Mr Sharma further added that HB is planning to invest Rs 70-80 crore for expansion within India and overseas next year. We are looking to have our presence in 10 global cities by July 2017. In India, we will start charging 10 per cent commission after June 2017 which is very low compared to industry average of 25-30 per cent. In HotelBids, we expect to start monetizing our platform in 2018-19.
HotelBids application is a win-win for both, the hotels and also the guest. The guest can bid privately as per his budget and the hotels also have the liberty of not disclosing their room rates (which they have to do on other OTAs). Hotelbids is currently receiving a good response. It gets around 300 plus booking requests every day.
I have also tried my hands at it (though have not booked any room on it till now), and the responses were quick, plentiful and I hope to actually book my next hotel room in 2017 through HotelBids.