As of 2014, close to 1.1 billion people were travelling abroad. For the first 10 months of 2014, close to 978 million people spent at least one night in a foreign country. These numbers clearly show an increasing need to travel and exploration. Looking at the growth of alternative accommodations, Arjun Baljee the founder of Peppermint Hotels and Girish Raj Nair, who had run the design company, Idiom joined hands and started Stayology in March 2015 as Stay Social Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
The duo define Stayology as a new way to explore, list, stay, pay for and share your local experiences in alternate accommodations globally. Arjun says that Stayology is a different way to live without owning, to rent without the hassle, to experience without the anchors, to pay without the cash, to go local yet get quality, to wander and seek out.
Building the core team
When both Arjun and Girish began work on Stayology they realized that the opportunity wasn’t just in aggregation of stay options but also curating local experiences around those stay options. With Stayology potentially becoming a large play in technology and operations, Girish introduced Sandeep Dhar to the company, the CEO of Stayology. Sandeep has experience in technology and scaling up large enterprises with stints at Tesco, Mphasis, Sapient and Citibank. His experience in creating systems and attracting talent has created a strong platform for the company to grown on.
With the need of a senior technologist, Rakesh came on board to become the CIO of the company. Rakesh has been responsible for global mobile technology for a number of companies that he has worked at, including building mobile applications for retail and banking sectors.
The team saw that the current offerings of a local hospitality app limit the wanderlust of travellers. Add to this need to travel with the need to consume local services and experiences, but only on demand. Does a guest need to pay for a permanent housekeeper when the need is only once a week?
"By questioning the fundamental way we live our daily lives, Stayology was created as a place where you can discover what you need, and only pay for what you consume on demand," adds Arjun. The team intends Stayology to be a global marketplace for stay and stay-related services, all enabled through a simple mobile application.
The founding principles
Arjun says, Stayology was founded on three simple principles
- Aggregating global stay options across categories: The needs of a consumer could change per week, and there was not a single point for discovery and consumption online where guests could look for business or leisure, family or solo travel needs and allied entertainment and experience options. Stayology lists and aggregates millions of places to stay, including serviced and un-serviced accommodations. The guest’s choices are limitless, but the selection process of a place to stay has been simplified into categories and will help guests choose from short, medium and long stays based on their requirements.
- Aggregating local experiences for the global traveller: The consumer will need information about the locality where they stay – where does one get a housekeeper for cleaning an accommodation, where does one go for a movie, where does one go to a local bar, get laundry done, maybe get an elephant ride. This platform enables guests to reach out to the providers of local services through a simple in-app purchasing platform that will be location relevant. A guest hence pays only for what they need and when they need it.
- Simple payment and sharing app: While a guest can search stay and stay-related services, the team wants to bring it all together on one simple payment platform and one simple user interface where guests can pay and consume in one app. Furthermore, they believe travel is a social experience. People share their travel photographs, experiences, contacts gained while travelling with others. Therefore, they needed to create a central repository of that information that guests can store their preferences and experiences.
Differentiators and challenges
Arjun adds that while the businesses and transactions are enabled using a mobile application, Stayology is first an open marketplace platform of stay and services. The simplicity of the technology created by Stayology, enables every small business or service provider to be able to list their accommodation or service or experience online, and receive payments for their businesses in a seamless manner.
"So the idea of Stayology has evolved from a basic accommodation provider to an open platform for accommodation providers to list their places to stay, and for providers of services to list and transact," adds Arjun.
Following a marketplace model, Stayology charges a simple transaction fee. The team is targeting millions of guests who stay in accommodations for short, medium and long durations in tenanted spaces, hotels, serviced apartments, apartments, villas and the like.
"Stayology has been fortunate to list over 25,000 places to stay globally pre-launch. We will begin with stay options and immediately add all the services as envisioned per location and per category. We are in the mode of integrating with various service providers as well, so that guests can have a seamless in-app experience on our platform," adds Arjun.
One of the challenges the team faces is deciding on when would be the right time to launch. In our business of platform creation, and creating trust with the guest and the provider of stay/services, we needed to be 100 percent sure that the platform is ready to receive guests and enable our providers. As this is a global business, we have faced issues around accepting and remitting payments across countries. We are now closer to our goal of launching the platform in the next few weeks, having solved for most of our known challenges," adds Arjun.
Stayology is currently funded by the co-founders and a few select friends. The platform will be launched to guests by the end of September with listings for accommodations across India. By October, the team intends to open international listings that have already been aggregated online.
"Within the few months of launch, we will have the services aggregated post comprehensive testing of delivery of category of service and after vetting the providers. In November, Stayology will present as an Alpha Startup at WebSummit in Dublin. By November, the platform will be ready to accept global listings both on stay and services sides," adds Arjun.