Finally consumer perception is changing towards online hotel booking, especially among the working class in urban cities. PhoCusWright, a global travel market research company, says revenue generated through online hotel bookings in India increased by 28% to Rs 3,369 crore in 2012 from Rs 2,634 crore in 2011. For most big hotels, online room bookings are growing almost 100% year on year.
M. Chirstopher saw this potential in May 2010, and realized that this is a business which has remained largely untapped all these years, as Indian travelers preferred to book hotels over the phone or on arrival, despite the convenience of the Internet. He bootstrapped Dhitrax.com as a pure player in the online hotel booking space, with a unique focus on tourist destinations in tier two and tier three cities. This website specializes in online booking of hotel rooms and packages reservations in properties from hostels, bed and breakfast, cheap hotels to luxury hotels. Travellers can register and open an account in order to save searches and preferred locations or continue as guests and place fresh enquiries. Travellers can search for various accommodations in different classes of hotels based on their budgets, city, rooms available, location, prices, amenities etc. and thus receive an instant confirmation within two minutes of time. Additionally, the website offers wide variety of listed hotels, easy cancellation policy, and guaranteed low rates with no hidden costs. “We are different in the way that we directly work with the accommodation providers who manage property on his own whither, its price/availability etc. Each property/hotel is provided with an extranet, to manage their inventory levels and update the website in case no rooms are available. So every room booked is 100% confirmed” says Christopher.
The displayed prices of packages and rooms are well negotiated and discounted, but there may be a scope for further discount if the customer wishes to bypass and book hotels offline via phone or email, as online booking attracts payment gateway charges. For any cancellation of bookings, the customer has to cancel directly by logging into his dhitrax.com account. Every hotel has its own cancellation policy which is sent to the traveller via email. Cancellations made within the time limit given by the hotel (in most cases 48 hours prior to date of arrival) will be free of charge; else a cancellation fee equivalent to one night stay is applicable. The website does not have any vendors or field executives for selecting hotels to be listed. Email- marketing has is extensively used to attract attention of hoteliers and new properties. But there is a check on quality and rank done before giving them place. A lot of marketing is done via blogging, Facebook and Twitter and efforts are being done to improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool. “Though we do not appear in the first search page of Google as we have limited budgets and yet to call us a profitable venture. Our revenue model is simple and standard - on every room sale we get a commission ranging from 12% up to 25% depending on season and hotel Policies. We are in process of finding a suitable Venture capitalists or investor to take our projects ahead” says Christopher.
There is tough competition from established and bigger portals like Makemytrip.com, yatra.com or travelguru.com etc. in terms of financing and visibility. With only a 2-member team at present, the startup's dreams are big and robust to expand across regions and increase hotel inventory to give the traveller a total peek-a-boo in the city dwellings.