Today hospitality industry is openly embracing digital solutions for increasing its efficiency and productivity. But back in 2011, this was not the case and this was something that clearly bothered Anil Kumar, Ravi Taneja and Leema Rosali.
The hospitality industry was then still stuck in non-innovative software solutions and traditional methods for keeping its productivity intact. However, Anil, Ravi and Leema knew that the industry can ill afford to languish in mediocrity forever by resisting digital revolution.
Hence the three founded AxisRooms with an aim to bring unprecedented revolution in the hospitality industry. Today AxisRooms offers various products to help hotels in bringing 360 degree improvement in their services – from hotel booking to revenue management. These products over the years have helped AxisRooms to get a firm grip in the market and the company is today working with some of the big names in the hospitality industry.
Company’s recent collaboration with Airbnb has once again demonstrated company’s ability to win big clients from the hospitality industry. It also recently won “Asia’s Leading Hotel Booking Solutions Provider” award in the prestigious 2018 World Travel Awards. It is the only Indian hotel technology solution provider to win this prestigious award for three straight years.
Techpluto caught up with Mr. Ravi Taneja, Co Founder & COO of AxisRooms, for a one-on-one interview. In this special interview, Mr Taneja has shed light on company’s past as well as existing challenges and also future prospects.
Q) How will you describe AxisRooms journey since its inception in 2011?
Journey becomes challenging when you are a first mover in any space and more so when you plan to cater to an underserved or a long tail segment and that’s exactly what happened with us. Education and adaption had been the biggest challenge and once we overcame that, it became a smooth ride for us.
It took more than a year to acquire first 100 customers but then we grew at much larger scale Year over year (YoY). As we speak we have over 7000 properties using our platforms.
Q) Can you please shed some light on AxisRooms recent collaboration with Airbnb?
Asia is on their expansion map and we are the earliest partners to work with them. The intent of this partnership is to solve the pain point of a small-medium hotelier/BnB/homestay to expand their distribution on Airbnb. We enable instant booking for listings on Airbnb. The partnership is currently at an initial stage and has a huge potential moving forward.
Q) In the initially days was it really hard to convince hotels and hospitality brands to buy your suite?
Yes like I said being a first mover you take on the challenge of educating customers to use the product and building confidence that it will solve large pain point in their daily operations.
Q) How far has hospitality industry come in digital adoption since AxisRooms came into picture in 2011?
A long way! Online penetration has increased multifold from 2011 to what it is now. Hotels are equally keen to have their strong presence on TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Ads and push transactions through their brand site as well.
Q) Who, according to you, are AxisRooms main competitors?
STAAH, RateGain, SiteMinder, IDeaS and Duetto.
Q) Are there any major pain points in the hospitality industry that still remains unresolved and is AxisRooms trying out something innovative to resolve the same?
The use of data and analytics to have more dynamism in pricing. A large set (>90%) of hotels maintain static pricing for their properties even when they are doing high occupancy or in the peak periods like long weekends, festive dates etc. The inability to switch prices dynamically encouraged us to start working on a tool which is an automated tool for hotels to change their room prices on the fly! We call this platform as “Revenue Management System”
Q) AxisRooms hasn’t raised any funds since its seed funding in 2013. Are there any hindering factors that are stopping the company from pursuing an aggressive fundraising strategy?
We raised another round of USD 2 Mn in 2017. We are planning to raise series B round of close to 12 Mn by 1st qtr of CY19.
There aren’t any hindering factors for right products with right market fit.
Q) Your projection about AxisRooms for the next five years?
We are market leaders in India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and we will continue to grow in Asia. We expect to have 30000 hotel partners working with us and to be market leaders of South Asia, Middle East Asia and South East Asia.
Q) Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey, what advice or tips would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs?
I think it’s very important to stay focused on customer satisfaction. Knowing what they need and solving the right problem at a right cost is the key. Keep a very close watch on your CAC because that eventually defines the unit level profitability.
Q) Are there any role models that you personally look up to for seeking inspiration?
There are quite a few: Elon Musk, Mark Benioff, and Sridhar Vembu.