Room on Call, a branded budget accommodation marketplace, which allows business and leisure travellers to book a budget room online or through direct booking in the absence of internet connection while travelling, has raised $300K in funding from the U.S. based Senior Executive Yahoo, Payal Syal. The funding will go towards expanding the team and increasing theRoom On Call reach and its facilities.
Room On Call (ROC) aims to cater to the entire mobile population of the country and make travelling for everyone quite comfortable irrespective of late night landing of flight, or delayed trains, or last minute reservations
Commenting on the development, Pradeep Sajjan, CEO of Room On Call (ROC) told Inc42 exclusively, “We aim to grow at lightning trajectory to provide rooms in every nook and corner of the world – rooms that are more comfortable and affordable. By December 2015, we plan to expand to 30 cities in India, adding another 3,000 rooms to our inventory. The funding will majorly be used for our expansion drive.”
The company is also planning to launch a mobile application studded with a range of features to enable the customers to book their favourite accommodation more conveniently. Currently, ROC operates with a team of 27 professionals and is in talks to raise another $10-15 Mn to scale up its operations. It has classified the non star category properties as “budget budget” and “budget fancy”. Currently, the company has presence in 25 cities across the country with the availability of 4,100 room nights.
ROC operates on a fixed cost model, acquiring properties at a certain rate and then branding them. However, it will also get into free buying of rooms, with such rooms forming 15-20% of its inventory in the near future.
Apart from the web portal, those seeking direct booking, or while travelling in the absence of internet connection facility may directly call the ROC Helpline and get their accommodation in real time. This as per Pradeep is the differentiating factor compared to other such players in this space, who are busy engaging customers with an app. When one books a room with ROC, along with the room id, you are also assigned a dedicated relationship manager who will guide you 24/7 to take care of any problems during your staying to ensure that your experience goes smoothly. This is how ROC aims to focus on customer acquisition and retention.
The Gurgaon-based marketplace, which started operations this year only, received more than 10,000 calls and sold more than 3,000 room nights in Delhi/NCR in its first month of operation. As per industry estimates, the budget accommodation space has nearly 1,00,000 accommodations and a market size of one million room nights per day.
And there is increasing competition in this market with newer entrants. OYO, a formidable player in the segment, recently raised a $100 Mn funding round led by SoftBank Corp, and its existing investors, expanding to 100 cities with more 2,400 properties in its kitty. Close behind it is Zo Rooms, which has expanded to 35 cities and was funded by Tiger Global Management and Orios Venture Partners recently. The company is adding 5 hotels every day and launching in 2 new cities every week. Other notable players in the space include FabHotels, Treebo, Wudstay, and Vista Rooms to name a few.
This month, Bangalore-based real-time hotel booking startup, RoomCentral, also raised $2 Mn (INR 12 Cr.) in a funding round from angel investor Karanpal Singh, managing director of Nameh chain of hotels in Delhi, Goa and Odisha.