Kaneswaran Avili, former chief commercial officer of SpiceJet, is set for a comeback in India – this time through a hotel aggregator selling clean and affordable rooms to Indian travellers.
Global Rooms, a company founded by the Malaysia-based Avili, is a virtual hotel chain under Nida Rooms on the lines of Oyo Rooms. Though the start-up was incorporated in September 2015, it officially launched operations earlier this year.
“We have already locked in over 3,000 hotels (5.4 million rooms annually) across four countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines,” said Avili, CEO and co-founder of Global Rooms, who has previously worked with AirAsia, Tiger Airlines and Garuda Indonesia.
Avili said the company will initially focus on Indonesia and Malaysia. “Starting March, we will increase our footprint in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The third stage of expansion covers India, where we will tie up with big Indian travel portals so our inventory can be offered to Indian travellers as well as our clients in southeast Asia. We will ultimately have to come to India because this market has immense potential, and cannot be ignored,” said Avili, who put in $1.5 million as seed capital along with a friend and is currently on the verge of raising another $3 million from venture capitalists.
“In our model, we enter into agreement with existing hotels by locking around 40% of the rooms that would be dedicated exclusively to us. Unlike Oyo Rooms, where the entire hotel is rebranded, Nida Rooms will modify only a certain portion of the establishment to meet its standards,” he said.
He said that as the average occupancy rate for hotels in this category hovers around the 60%, Nida helps them cover a part of the 40% that remains unoccupied through the year.
“Owing to his long stint in India, Avili must know that Indian budget travelers and backpackers mostly look for clean rooms with comfortable beds, television sets, air conditioning and Wi-fi. That should be the focus of his venture,” said travel veteran Rajji Rai, who heads the Swift Travel group.
Avili said his primary concern is to ensure that all travellers get a good night’s sleep of 12 hours. “To make sure that hotels meet our quality parameters, we undertake an audit of each one before signing up. All guests booking rooms through the portal can expect a comfortable bed, clean linen, attached bathroom, hot shower, cable television, air conditioning, and – most importantly – free Wi-fi,” he said.