Years ago as a college student on a shoestring budget, Simran Sial, Co-Founder of FindMyStay.com, went backpacking across Europe. The trip was memorable except for the time he spent in Rome, which was irreparably ruined by his horrible hotel experience.
Today, FindMyStay.com, the New Delhi-based start-up that Simran runs along with friend and co-founder Rohit Khetrapal, has a solution to every frugal traveler’s biggest bugbear: where to stay. The venture, which is not even a year old, is already turning heads, recently winning a CNBC Awaaz Travel Award for best upcoming service in travel industry.
How it works
FindMyStay.com is an online portal that allows you to bid for the accommodation of your choice, helping you find the best hotel options within your budget. Once you give your specifications, such as the location, the star category and your budget, you get the average price for hotels that match your requirements. You then submit a bid and FindMyStay negotiates with hotel partners on your behalf. Each bid is negotiated with partners on a case-to-case basis.
FindMyStay was launched in October 2013, but it took almost two years of groundwork and extensive networking with hotels (numbering almost 3,000 today) to set the ball rolling. The bidding model for hotel booking was a unique idea, the first of its kind in the country, and that brought its own set of challenges. “It was especially hard because we didn’t have a case study to refer to or an example to go by. It just had to be done through trials and improvisation,” said Simran.
An edge over competitors
Another challenge the young venture faced was selling the new idea to hoteliers, whose first impression would inevitably be that they were yet another online travel booking portal. Building trust and credibility among partners as well as customers has been an ongoing challenge, one that the start-up is overcoming one success story at a time.
While treading a market so competitive, it became imperative that they offer something above and beyond what everyone else offered. For FindMyStay, it was not just a comfortable stay at an affordable price, but also superior customer experience. Hence, the decision to go with Knowlarity’s professional call handling solution.
“We subscribed to SuperReceptionist months before we launched the venture. We put the number out there on the ‘coming soon’ page in early 2013. We didn’t want a regular landline number, but a product that was scalable — one that could grow as we grew. With SuperReceptionist, that was taken care of,” explained Simran.
“We have benefited the most from the feature to be able to asses the call log details whether inbound or outbound. Most of the calls we get are basic enquiries such as how far is the hotel from the airport, is there local transport, etc. These questions are best answered by our agents who visit the hotels to seal the deals. With SuperReceptionist, we have been able to efficiently transfer calls to the right agent so that these basic but important queries are efficiently handled,” he said.
The young entrepreneur’s experience with Knowlarity’s product has been so satisfying that he recommends it to starts-ups all the time, he says.
The duo is full of plans for their new venture. As of now, FindMyStay has partner hotels in all major cities of the country as well as popular tourist destinations including Goa, Srinagar, Manali, Amritsar and Indore.
“We want to scale up. We want more customers who can recommend us to their friends. And we want to expand internationally,” said Simran.
With a promising idea, great technology backbone and a driven, all-rounder team, here’s a start-up that’s geared up for its entrepreneurial roadtrip — and has its stay figured out.