How do you plan a holiday? Traditionally, you pick up a destination, book your travel tickets, and then you either look for a fancy hotel in the area, or if you plan a budget trip you just try your luck and book the most affordable guest room or motel available. That’s how most of us function during holidays; however, in the process of compromising with our stays, we end up missing out on an important aspect of travel, which is connecting with the locals and the native culture.
Howbeit, a year-old Gurgaon-based travel start up has brought in a revolution to how an average Indian travels. Founded by 23-year-old Dhruv Sharma, GuestHouser started from a small wordpress blog, and after almost a year, it is one of the most popular travel website in India.
In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Dhruv Sharma shared his startup story. He said, “The opportunity was really obvious. When we saw a total disconnect in the industry, between someone trying to look for spaces other than hotels and the amount of spaces that were available.” Quoting an example, he says, “If you look at someone who wants to book a villa, say in Lonavala, I don’t think a common man even thinks about it being accessible. Most of them don’t even know where to begin the search.”
If you think about it, that holds true. Most of us will not even think of staying somewhere other than a hotel, for various reasons like comfort and security, and the other primary reason being, travelling the way GuestHouser suggests would be a total mind-shift for many of us. However, this new startup aims to bring closer the people who are looking to monetize their property, and the one’s looking for an experience that is closer to the culture and traditions of the place they are visiting.
Earlier, locals who put up their property for tourists found it difficult to advertise it and maintain it, moreover, travellers found it difficult track down such properties, even if they wanted to. Even if that was all managed, it was fractious to ensure booking and payments in advance, there always was a lack of trust. But GuestHouser is just creating a win-win situation for all!
This brilliantly ideated startup made connections between hosts and travellers, and the response they have received is phenomenal. On the host side, people are making much more money than they were before, because now instead of mediating through ten different people, they are directly able to talk to their target audience. And on the demand side, travellers have many more options to choose from.
“Over the past one year, all that we did was uncover every single property, creating a Privately Curated Network (PCN), which allows us to uncover every single area in India, areas that even hotels can’t uncover, for the average consumer,” said Dhruv Sharma.
Competing against larger companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, GuestHouser is toiling away with confidence, due to its comparatively deeper reach in even the smallest parts of the country. For a fact, this newborn start-up lists more than a quarter-million spaces across the country, giving access to even the most remote areas for tourists to visit.
As a staunch cynophile, during the interview, I asked Dhruv Sharma, if the GuestHouser catered for holidays with pets. Interestingly, while booking the website has an option to choose from a fat list of pet-friendly places. Unlike many hotels that allow pets but come with a million applied conditions, staying in your own space with your pets would definitely make for a perfect holiday!
Further, considering the up-to-the-minute idea, and the apprehensive notions that will flow along with it regarding the safety and security of these places, Dhruv ensured “We try our best to avoid the unavoidable! To begin with, instead of asking our guests to review us at the end of their travel, we also ask them for their feedback the moment the reach their guestroom, follow up accordingly. That ensures the quality of the rooms that we are providing, and more importantly, the customer satisfaction.”
“Talking about the safety and security per say, we are very careful about each property we take on board. We have made contacts with local people in each of the places we have properties, because they are able to give us a better insight of the localities and services around. To ensure safety, we then send down another person to warrant the security of those properties, which in turn is certified by a third person, which is our photographer, who goes down there and brings in some beautiful shots of the property. When finalised, we put up these images on our website, for our customers to judge from finally.”
Completely disrupting the travel industry, GuestHouser is bringing along a great revolution for the Indian travellers. For the coming years, the portal not only aims at increasing its listed properties in the country, GuestHouser has a delightful agenda on the roll — it intends to focus and serve for solo women travellers.
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