Bag2Bag – innovative products in the hospitality industry
Hospitality is as old as human civilization, as humans used to travel for trade, education or pilgrimage. As the oldest living civilization, India has a tradition called – Atithi Devo Bhava, which basically means that an unannounced guest can be compared to Devatas or Gods. Our ancient cities, towns, villages, and even our itineraries contained provisions for travelers to rest or stay for short periods. Our cave systems on trade routes are testament to this tradition. Although the hotel and hospitality industry is a product of the industrial age, when entrepreneurs established a hotel as a product for travelers. Now, you can pay to stay in luxury properties and get pampered by their staff. Yes, in the beginning, most of the hotels were luxury and catered to the upper classes of society. The last two decades in India have seen an explosive growth in hotels driven by economic growth combined with the growth of aviation which has made travel more affordable and accessible to a larger population. Challenges of the Hospitality Industry Although the operations of the hotel industry remain rooted in the distant past. Therefore, most hotels expect you to check in around 2pm or later, and you must check out by 12pm or so. This allows them a few hours to prepare the room for the next guest. However, you end up getting 22 hours instead of 24 hours. There are some hotels that offer 24 hour checkout, but they are very few in number. The worst is when you land at night and have to leave the next evening. Either you pay for 2 nights or you end up carrying your luggage in the hotel storage room. Likewise, for extended stays, you’ll want a more comfortable environment than cold hotels. You may want the flexibility to cook for yourself or have someone cook for you, however you like. I really want it on short work assignments or when I’m exploring a place by spending a lot of time there. Technology has affected the travel sector greatly with the advent of online travel agents, who have brought a whole host of accommodation options at our fingertips. However, they did not change the industry’s core business model or approach it from a customer perspective. Hourly accommodation with Bag2Bag So, when I heard about Bag2Bag who offers hotels on an hourly basis, I explored their website in detail. I’ve checked out several properties in Tier 1 cities where I usually need a quick overnight stay or need a place to change before a meeting or relax for a few hours before catching a connecting flight. I was happy to see that I could find hotels for 2 hours plus 12 hours in addition to the usual 24 hours. It works well for me. It also works well for a hotel that has a high fill rate or average occupancy rate. Potential challenges that I see for the business include their ability to convince hoteliers to offer hotels on an hourly basis. Bag2Bag is basically a technology-driven marketplace that allows hotel booking through its platform. Whether or not to offer hourly rates remains a business decision for hotels. Much Needed Experience I will treat it as much needed experience as most innovation, in the beginning. He may need small course corrections here and there, or perhaps a few pivots to streamline and generalize processes. Bag2Bag initially noticed resistance from hotels but the pandemic worked a long time in their favour. They’ve seen hoteliers prepare their ideas and take bookings by the hour. At the time of writing, they have about 3,500 hotels you can book by the hour, 60% of which are in Tier 1 cities, and they’ve already signed up for hourly deals. They also offer the added benefit of checking in/out during extended hours. With the exception of midnight, most hours are available for travelers to check-in or check-out, giving them the needed flexibility. As a frequent traveler, I definitely see a huge need for it, and basically that means huge potential for this business. I see intangible benefits like being able to catch flights or trains without worrying about hotel bills. This gives me much needed flexibility in planning my trips. The total cost of the trip should also come down because I’ll only pay for what I use and not a standard rate for 22 hours no matter how much I use it. Extended Stay Holidays Coming to the other end of the spectrum, we look for viable and comfortable options for extended stays. Digital nomads are always looking for value-driven long-stay options. The pandemic has put many people into this category. Many of us now want to work from our dream destinations like Goa or Himachal. What we need is a home-like environment with a good internet connection. Food choices should include self-cooking or home-like food. It is not easy to live on outside food for a long time. This is the second great offering from Bag2Bag. Authentic Traditional Wooden Travancore Hut in Ayurvedic Resort Most people prefer to stay in a serviced apartment, private villa, cottage or homestay for longer stays. If you are traveling alone or as a couple, you prefer homestays and for large groups of family and friends, you prefer a private space like a cottage or villa. Homestays bring people closer to the local culture, a kind of accommodation veiled in hotels that tend to provide a standard world experience. On the other hand, resorts allow you to stay away from the crowds and allow you to enjoy nature or quiet solitude. Experiences at Destination Bag2Bag also plans to engage in offering experience bookings on the website and app. This should be an interesting feature to look forward to. I know of many local experiences curated by local architects, artisans or chefs. Walking tours, especially the heritage trails, are very popular. Then there are experiences to pamper yourself like spa treatments or deep dives with a local cooking class. However, it is not easy to locate one in every destination unless you are aware of the service provider through your own network. To be able to search for an experience based on destination, area of interest, time available, and cost would help both travelers and service providers. Travelers will be able to make the most of their time at their destination. Experience curators will be able to reach a wider audience and hopefully also design more experiences. Bag2Bag – Innovating Hospitality Experiences Bag2Bag aims to be a hospitality portal, focusing on different accommodation options, from hourly hotels to extended stays, from first-tier cities seeing business travel to holiday destinations seeing extended stays, from experiences to enrich travel to engagement with the local community . The website allows you to search for multiple parameters including the specific area within the city. I appreciate the fact that they allow separate searches for: Hotels Hourly Overnight Hotel Apartments Homestays & Villas Resort Experiences (launching soon) Most of their hourly hotels are in first tier cities that people mostly visit for business. Homestays and resorts tend to be located in and around popular holiday destinations such as Coorg or Hampi. I also see them serving pre-booked meals. Does this turn me on, I’m not sure, because who knows how I’ll feel days later? I’ve never appreciated this feature in flight bookings but that’s just me. People who plan tightly or are very certain about their meal plans may love it. Like any e-commerce portal, they regularly come up with deals, discounts, and loyalty programs. So, check them out at the time of booking. Bag2Bag was founded in Bangalore in 2019 by three engineers Alok Mishra, Anurag Tiwari and Gaurav Garg. As of now, they are focusing on building the Indian market but have plans to go global in the near future. This post was co-written with Bag2Bag.