If you’re tired of staying in crappy budget hotels and want a change of scenery, then travel platform MakeMyTrip has something new in store for you. Driven by the demand for alternate homestay options(for short durations) from customers in the country, MakeMyTrip has expanded its scope beyond booking hotels, flights, and other ticketing options. It has today announced its newest initiative — Rightstay.
Rightstay, an Indian alternative for Airbnb, allows you to rent guesthouses or villas for a lavish, authentic experience at affordable prices. The primary aim of the company is to connect travellers with local hosts who can make them feel a part of the family, and help them enjoy the stay at their place.
In a bid to start-off the project and create a strong community of local hosts, the company has already personally handpicked more than 10,000 properties ranging from guesthouses to villas. But, Deep Kalra, chairman of MakeMyTrip, expects the demand to rise and the number of properties on the platform to surpass the 100,000 mark by the end of next year.
The company already hosts some of the best branded hotels on its platform, but had been mulling over to find the definite place for guesthouses on its platform. Commenting on the same, Kalra adds,
MakeMyTrip platform had guesthouses and villas which were ready to update their inventory and we found strong demand for them. They were not part of the hotel association. We did a lot of internal debating and to give it the right wherewithal to compete with everyone we thought it’s best to have a unique identity called Rightstay.
The platform lists properties ranging from as low as Rs. 150 per night to a staggering Rs. 5 lakh for a night stay at a palace. It is currently accepting bookings through a mobile app and website. The Android app has already amassed over 100k downloads, a 4 star rating and decent reviews about the service.
Deepak Tuli, senior VP(growth business) at MakeMyTrip and co-founder of Goibibo will spearhead the new homestay aggregation business. Commenting on the launch of Rightstay, he says,
We have all the leisure destinations registered on our platform like Goa and Manali.
We want to explore other regions like the Northeast and are expecting to add about 25,000 – 30,000 properties by the end of this financial year. People are travelling like never before. I haven’t seen a period of more robust growth for domestic air travel in my entire MakeMyTrip tenure.
MakeMyTrip has a plush bank balance, and is currently well-positioned in the travel ticketing segment. Earlier this year, it has picked up a whopping $180 million from one of China’s largest travel booking platforms Ctrip International. The investment has been made through five years convertible bonds. Post conversion, Ctrip will own about 15 to 16 percent of the company.
Rightstay puts the company in direct competition with Airbnb, one of the largest homestay aggregators in the world. Though the company runs its services in the country, it hasn’t paid much attention to its expansion. But, it’ll be important to see if CEO Brian Chesky will finally wake to the growing demand of homestaysand plan to follow in the footsteps of Uber to fend off rivals by pumping in more money into the country’s operations . It has recently minted $850 million and is looking forward to a public offering in the coming year.