Vista Rooms a Hospitality brand in Luxury Homes Stay, Founded in 2015 by three avid travellers – Ankita Sheth, Pranav Maheshwari and Amit Damani
TechiExpert had an opportunity to talk with the co-founder Amit Damani, Co-founder, Head of Sales and Marketing.
What is the startup and what is that one problem it solves?
Vista Rooms is a holiday home management solution at one end and a trusted luxury homestay provider on the other. Those who own second homes often struggle with the efforts and costs of maintaining them, and giving it out on short term rentals can generate revenues, but is quite a task.
This is where Vista comes in. We handle all the stressful parts of hosting, and generate revenues for the owner from their second home which might otherwise have been idle, or perhaps hosting guests but not in the most optimum and professional manner.
For travellers, we provide end-to-end assistance and various additional services. Anyone can book through various online listings across various platforms, but Vista is a brand that audits each home regularly and assures a great experience every single time. The trust factor is our USP.
Background of founders
Ankita comes from a hospitality and HR background, Pranav is on the tech side, and Amit has been into consulting prior to this. (Please find detailed founder profiles attached.) This idea came from Amit’s grandmother, actually. She has a home in Lonavala and was having trouble managing it.
While she was alright with putting it up on Airbnb, she was concerned about guest verification, her house rules, and the overall management. Once we started looking into this for her, we realised many homeowners have similar concerns.
How did they start working on this idea & Motivation to productive?
We started with one villa in Lonavala and grew that to nearly 30-35 within that area itself. This was our pilot, after which we expanded across more regions in Maharashtra – Alibaug, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar, etc.
Goa was the obvious next step, and then we grew into North and South India. We’ve been very selective, ensured each property meets Vista standards, and currently we have 250+ wonderful homes across India that we offer to guests.
Explain how you are able to leverage emerging technologies (AI, Deep Learning, Smart homes)
As entrepreneurs in the travel industry, we keep a vigilant eye on tech to identify and adopt newer and more evolved ways to run the business. For instance, CRMs help retain and nurture existing customers and effectively target new customers. This helps us build an efficient customer life cycle.
A big part of
marketing now revolves around social media strategies, and with targeting
becoming more and more effective, the results are astounding. We are able to
reach specific categories of travellers based on their individual interests
with specific messaging designed for them, thus exhibiting the particular facet
of our stay options that will most appeal to them. Establishing an instant
connection with potential customers across the web has become a possibility
thanks to tech.
APIs enable us to
leverage existing established players using their tech and push sales
strategies. Channel managers are also a boon, connecting almost all major OTAs
such as booking.com, Make My Trip, etc. This reduces the manual
burden and helps in better inventory and price management.
Various rewards and loyalty programs are also supported by tech and enable better customer retention, which I can say by the first-hand experience, having set up a ‘Prime’ membership program at Vista Rooms not too long ago.
what’s your unique selling point
As a bi-faceted business,
our USPs are different for homeowners and different for travellers. For
homeowners, it is the hassle-free management of and revenue generation from
their second homes. For travellers, it is the trust in the standards of Vista
villas – no matter where they go, they can be assured a good experience.
Early days struggle.
We struggled with our earlier model. We had started out as a budget hotel aggregator. Not only were we facing stiff competition with players such as Oyo in the game, but we were also extremely dissatisfied with the quantity-over-quality sort of approach this business seemed to require.
We barely had any control over the experiences our travellers had when booking with us, and felt that it didn’t mean much to build a brand if we weren’t able to genuinely offer a unique experience. This struggle led to the best turning point, though, in which we completely pivoted our model and started focusing on the holiday homes segment. This has its own share of challenges, but it is very rewarding, and we can see the difference we make in this space.
We’ve raised 8
cr. so far from Artha India Ventures, Singularity Holdings, Singapore
Angel Network and online funding platform LetsVenture. Google India head Rajan
Anandan and Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham have also invested.
We have hosted more
than 250,000+ guests at Vista properties.
How are you different than other player like OYO Rooms
We are solely focused on holiday homes. That’s what separates us from anyone who has their fingers in multiple pies. This particular experience is what we specialise in. Our checklist for curating properties is extensive, and we do not compromise on the standards of the homes we partner with. Our owner support and customer support teams are strong and prompt. At the end of the day, it is the experience we are able to offer that speaks for itself.
New Areas if they are looking to expand.
Currently, the focus is on India. We have already established players in Maharashtra, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, etc. and look forward to expanding in the east as well.
Future plans .
Eventually, we would
like to be a home away for home for Indian travellers no matter where in the
world they go.