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MakeMyTrip bets on expanding homestays market to take on rivals

MUMBAI : Online travel firm MakeMyTrip is betting on the growing homestay market with plans to add another 10,000 villas, apartments and other alternative accommodations on its online platform in the next one year, said a top company executive.

The Nasdaq-listed company’s plan to firm up presence in the homestay segment comes at a time when established companies such as Airbnb as well as startups such as Vista Rooms and Saffronstays are aggressively looking to tap the segment in the last two to three years.

“We have been closely watching the segment for the last few years and have been working on how we can improve and what features we can add,” said Vipul Prakash, chief operating officer, MakeMyTrip.

Of the total 170,000 properties listed on MakeMyTrip, around 20,000-25,000 are homestays that account anywhere between 5-7% of total revenue, which the company expects to double in the next one year.

“Homestay is a space where consumers are heading to,” said Prakash, adding that the company would focus more on leisure destinations such as Goa, Coorg and Manali apart from cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

In October, a survey by the company showed that one in every two Indian travellers is looking to book an alternative accommodation like villas, homestays, hotels or cottages rather than a traditional hotel.

The survey found that the trend is led by millennials, who have shown higher propensity towards booking an alternative accommodation in India and overseas basis their varied travel interests.

The survey also showed that over 48% of the respondents are most likely to book an alternative accommodation for their next trip.

The growing popularity of homestays, which is estimated to be a $15 billion market globally, has thrown open significant opportunities in India. A homestay typically offers the opportunity for a cultural exchange that enhances a traveller’s experience in a new country. The concept, which is voluntary in nature, has expanded rapidly in India with a growing number of homeowners looking to list their properties on multiple online portals.

According to hospitality advisory firm Hotelivate, around 2.5 million accommodation rooms, including branded and unbranded hotel chains, new-age hotels and alternative accommodations are operating in India. Unbranded hotel chains constitute a majority of the country’s hospitality market accounting around 72% of the total, followed by alternative accommodations such as guest houses and homestays with 15%.

For Airbnb, the dominant player in the homestay space, India is one of the top three emerging markets in the world. India will continue to see more investments, Greg Greeley, president of homes, Airbnb, said in an interview last week. Launched in 2016 in India, Airbnb has around 54,000 listings across 110 cities.

“Growing popularity of homestays in edition to existing mass of guest houses makes alternative accommodation the second largest room/rentable unit category in the country,” said an April report by Hotelivate.

While the homestay market has been largely dominated by several domestic startups, a few large hotel chains have also set their sight into the segment.

The latest entry into the space being the Taj Group, with the launch of two sub brands Ama Trails & Stays in February this year.

The Tata group firm has signed a management contract for nine heritage bungalows in Coorg and Chikmagalur in Karnataka and plans to add another by next year.

Source:- livemint

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