In Conversation with Mr. Inder Sharma, Founder, HotelBids Inc.
February 15, 2017
Meet HotelBids, an app that lets you ask hotels tweak their price to your budget. It gives you the ease of quoting the price you want to pay, the quote being visible to multiple quality checked hotels and the choice to choose from a list of agreed hotels. Essentially, HotelBids empowers you to stay at your price in India. It has both iOS and Android versions of its mobile app in addition to website, which allows you to book your last minute stay in just two clicks.
In an email interview with Apps Unveiled team, Inder Sharma, Founder, HotelBids Inc., shared a lot more about HotelBids mobile app and said, “HotelBids is a hotel aggregation platform, which is emerging as a pioneer in the hotel industry and has a unique concept for booking hotels at customer’s own bidden prices. HotelBids is on the lines of growing exponentially, having acquired 3500+ hotels in 100+ cities all over India. Not only that, HotelBids is also a founding member of Asian American Hotel Owners Association in the USA, which is the largest hotel owners association in the hospitality Industry, as well as in the world.” Edited Excerpts:
Q. Please tell us a bit about the HotelBids mobile app and how it works.
Being an entrepreneur, I always think of the customer first. He is the God in the business world. After selling Hotel.com in 2001, I boxed HotelBids idea due to some limitations. But in 2015, I decided to address the three major hotel and customer problems. First, customers were overwhelmed with so many hotels apps. Second, customers were not getting the best hotel deals despite every night 20%-30% rooms go vacant, and the third, OTAs charge a hefty booking fee (15% to 30%) from hotels. To solve these problems, HotelBids was founded with a simple mission to allow customers to book hotel rooms at the last minute or in advance at THEIR PRICE, while empowering hotels to fill their EMPTY ROOMS at a lowest booking fee of 10% or less and all this with just TWO CLICKS.
HotelBids is a two click, user friendly app. The first click allows you to select city, area, rooms, date and price you want to pay. Hotels registered with HotelBids respond to your bid by simply saying YES or NO. Upon receiving responses from multiple hotels, you can review and pick one of them to continue with the booking. The second click is all about making the payment.
Q. How is HoteBids app different from other hotel booking apps, such as Booking.com, Oyo Rooms?
HotelBids has a unique mobile app that is customer and hotel-centric. It empowers you to book not only last minute rooms, but also plan future bookings AT YOUR PRICE, whereas other hotel apps such as Booking.com, MakeMyTrip or Yatra have standard room rates and thus you have no choice than to pay whatever rate is published by them. At HotelBids, we take your bid to multiple hotels, letting hotels accept the bid in order to fill their empty rooms. This also eliminates the need of visiting multiple booking sites just to compare the hotel rates. On the other hand, HotelBids is helping hotels to fill their rooms without disclosing these bids publicly as these bids remain discrete between customer and hotels. Another big difference is HotelBids charges lowest 10% booking fee compared to 15%-30% by other OTAs (Online Travel Agencies).
As far as OYO or other hotel aggregators are concerned, HotelBids, in fact, works with them to fill their empty rooms. HotelBids is working with many hotel channel partners such as Vista Rooms, Treebo, and Axis rooms to name a few.
Q. How is the response for HotelBids app so far?
We got a tremendous positive response – both from customers and hotels. We started registering hotels last mid-year and today HotelBids has over 3500 hotels in over 100 cities in its portfolio. HotelBids is also grateful to channel partners such as Treebo, Vista Rooms and Axis Rooms who saw value in our platform. We did a soft launch last September and we are doing a good amount of transactions every day, including bulk room bookings. Sri Sathya Sai Baba Education Trust Foundation chose HotelBids to book hotels for their 500 national/international guests last November. In December, HotelBids managed accommodations for a pharmaceutical event in Hyderabad for over 200 people. HotelBids is getting the attention of price conscious customers and we hope it will always be a great tool for customers to book rooms at their price.
Q. Why one should download HotelBids mobile app? Your top three reasons for that.
1. Your budget: If you are looking for last minute rooms at your price or within your budget, HotelBids gives you that.
2. Saves time: It is a two click booking app. 1 st click – select city, rooms, date and set price you want to pay. 2 nd click – review the bids, select the best hotel, accept and pay. It is that simple!
3. Future plans – If you are planning a vacation or want to plan a big event, HotelBids gives you negotiation tools to get hotels at your price.
Q. Please shed some light on HotelBids presence. How many hotels and cities do you cover at the moment?
Currently, HotelBids has over 3500 hotels in 100+ cities. Recently, HotelBids has formed strategic partnerships with prominent hotel channel partners such as Treebo, Vista Rooms and Axis rooms to name a few, and as a result, we have a presence in more than 140 cities with over 7000 hotels. Moreover, HotelBids has also started registering hotels in the USA. USA is the first country outside India to have operations and existence of HotelBids.
Q. What do you see as HotelBids’s biggest challenge in the year 2017?
The biggest challenge for us is to raise the next round of funding in India. This is because VCs in India have slowed down the funding lately. As HotelBids is headquartered in the USA, and is already in talks with the strategic investors in USA – we expect to close the next round of funding within a few months. Another biggest challenge is to establish as a brand in a very crowded OTAs space. That being said, challenges drive the true entrepreneurs and I personally feel that HotelBids will make its own place in the coming time because it empowers customers while helping hotels to fill their last minute rooms at lowest booking fee.
Q. Can we expect some new trends in this online hotel booking space in near future? Is there anything left to explore?
In my opinion, the travel industry is evolving for the last 10 years or so. Technology has brought great tools such as maps, reviews, guides, videos, travel blogs and even sites that compare rates between the travel vendors. And it will continue to evolve in the coming future. Customers are now tech-savvy and have an easy access to the problem solving tools. But sometimes even they get confused because there are 10 – 20 such applications that let you compare prices, but at the same time, the results are not consistent. And that’s the reason why we thought to empower the customers by creating an application – which let them book hotels at their price – in two clicks. I see more customer empowerment tools coming in the future to make the travel smoother, economical and full of wonderful experiences.
Q. Where do you see the HotelBids app three years down the line? Any new features that you are working on?
I truly believe in God, destiny and Karma; the only thing we can do is give our best. That being said, I foresee HotelBids as one of the most popular hotel brand globally. We would be one of the largest Hotel aggregator in the USA because of our relationship with AAHOA (Asian American Hotel owners Association) whose members own 24,000 hotels with 1,700,000 rooms. This would be a huge inventory to sell eventually. In the next three years, we would be a full fledged OTA with access to 360,000 hotels globally.
To keep HotelBids on the technology forefront, we will soon launch a special Hotel package tool, which will give travellers further more value for their money. Travellers will be able to share their experiences and connect to each other on WhatsApp. We have plans for more such features based on what travellers are looking for.
Q. Finally, what would be the one liner for HotelBids mobile app?
STAY @ YOUR PRICE. Humble request to travellers – “if you love your hard earned money – book rooms at your price not theirs (hotels) and download the HotelBids app today to start saving”.
Meet Inder Sharma
Currently I’m using Micromax and One+ phone
My Favourite App picks: WAZE and CamCard (other than HotelBids)
I am a regular user of Waze & CamScanner app (other than HotelBids)
My message for Apps Unveiled Readers:
There are hundreds and thousands of apps today. It is a ZOO out there. I think Apps Unveiled magazine is a great resource today, which evaluates hundreds of apps weekly and brings back to you, the best ones or with some tangible values. I would recommend everyone keep buying their print copies as well as visit weekly their app or site to see if there is any latest tech update. Personally, I have started reviewing their site frequently because you never know what app could solve your problem or make your life more enjoyable and convenient. Overall, Apps Unveiled is a great App tool!
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