Published: 18th May 2018
This ‘jini’ is making your hotel bookings cooler and easier
Sibasish Mishra’s Bookingjini puts an end to all your woes regarding booking hotel rooms. We find out more about this start-up and what sets it apart
All of us find that guy in the Trivago ad annoying, the one who greets you at the beginning of almost every YouTube video you watch. And aren’t we tired of the Goibibo ads that play after every over of an IPL match? But admit it, all of us have gloated about booking hotel rooms at low rates through the very same portals whose ads we are annoyed by. MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Expedia are also our go-to websites whenever we plan to travel and are looking for hotels. But have we ever, instead of cross-checking prices across these Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), tried looking at the hotel’s website directly?
Chances are that the prices of rooms might be much lower. The bigger the hotel, the stronger the chances. Bookingjini is one of the start-ups which is making this happen. “We want to do away with any sort of intermediary like the OTAs,” says Sibasish Mishra, the founder and CEO of this B2B (soon-to-be B2C) venture whose mission is to make direct bookings a trend again. “The reason why OTAs came into existence was because the smaller or the lesser-known hotels did not have the know-how to maintain their own domain online,” says 37-year-old Mishra.
Only one: The founder of Bookingjini, Sibasish Mishra
Hotel booking, direct style
But now with websites like Bookingjini Labs stepping in to take the reins, we can get back to our old ways. And why, pray, must we do so? OTAs charge hotels up to 25% of the amount as commission. “It is hard to see this kind of model sustaining in the long run,” he points out. They proved, with their very first client, that an alternative approach is viable. While working with the Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha, Bookingjini Labs had about 20 of their hotels under them. These properties, which were bringing in Rs 30-40 lakh per year, started bringing in revenues of up to a crore. Well, that was then, in 2015, and this is now. They currently have 830 hotels across 120 locations and will soon go global and offer services in Singapore, London, Kuala Lumpur and more. And with the market itself poised to grow up to $3.5 billion by 2022, who is to say what new heights Bookingjini Labs will scale in the years to come?
Coming to what else they do, one of elements that independent hotel websites lack is that they hardly have any user engagement tools. And it is here that LISA comes in. LISA is a chatbot which Bookingjini Labs offers these websites. Launched six months ago, LISA will book the room as per your need and tell you everything from the distance of the hotel from the airport to the shopping spots in the vicinity.
We have a very straightforward agenda at Bookingjini Labs. We want to make hotel room bookings more linear and very simple again. We want to do away with middlemen
Sibasish Mishra, founder, Bookingjini
Where’s my Concierge today?
They also have an app called Concierge in the works. The moment you book your room, this app is automatically downloaded to your device. It enables you to check-in before you arrive at the hotel, choose your welcome drink and in the future, might even act as the key to your hotel room. Even your room service needs can be taken care of without you calling the reception. “Like we said, no intermediaries,” smiles Mishra.
Mishra also has plans of adopting Blockchain technology. Through this, when one is trying to look for hotel rooms online, the interface of the portal will be the same as any other OTA, but when the time comes to book, they will be taken to the website of the hotel directly. Also, one can earn loyalty points which can be redeemed at any hotel. So, the next time your fingers automatically key in MakeMyTrip, you know you need to go to the websites directly instead.
For more, click on bookingjini.com