RoomWale is a newly launched startup that enables users to book BnB, Guest Houses, Serviced Apartments and other budget accommodation online in India.
Started by graduates of IIM Calcutta and Oxford University, RoomWale is building a marketplace for BnBs, Guest Houses and the site is currently live in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Jaipur and Nainital.
In general, a typical Airbnb model doesn’t really work in India, owing to lack of trust and importantly, lack of awareness of services like these. So startups who are building an AirBnB for India, the challenge would be to build trust among travelers/RoI for homestays/guest house owners and importantly, a WoM model which helps them gain access to a wide variety of rooms/accommodations that otherwise aren’t listed in Justdial.
Here is a quick conversation with RoomWale cofounder, Tanuj Mendiratta
PI: How are you guys taking care of ‘trust part’?
We have carefully selected all the accommodation options on RoomWale.com based on their previous track record and/or our visits to the property for verification. We feel all properties on RoomWale are trust-worthy. However we have a continuous user-review system and any property which is not found to be performing up to the mark will be de-listed.
PI: What has been the traction so far?
– We have booked more than 150 room-nights since our soft-launch in mid-October.
PI: What sort of customization are you doing for Indian market?
A few of our customizations for the Indian market are as follows
a. Only quality properties are listed (moving away from a pure P2P model)
b. Traveler Assurance: Full refund to the traveler at the time of check-in if the property is not found up to mark as well as assistance in finding a new one.
c. A 24×7 helpline for travelers and hosts
d. Editor rating for all properties (coming soon)
e. Cash-on-delivery payment option
f. Choice of Guest Houses, Serviced Apartments and Budget Hotels in addition to B&Bs and vacation rentals
Interesting model – especially the travel assurance part which will bring in a lot of trust in the system.
Aside, we are in touch with at least 8 similar startups and while most of these are regional focused, the key for them is to build a model where they bring $$$s to the guest houses, BnBs etc – just the way AirBnB did it in the US. The model works when it has enough checks-and-balances plus the monetary incentive to be a part of the system.
Do give RoomWale a spin and share your feedback.