Former OYO executive co-founds budget hotels aggregator Vista Rooms

18 Aug, 2015

A former executive of OYO Rooms has plunged into the burgeoning budget hotels aggregation space by co-founding a new venture that could potentially compete with her previous employer.

Ankita Sheth, former head of acquisitions at OYO Rooms, has joined hands with Amit Damani and Pranav Maheshwari to launch Vista Rooms, a startup that will offer branded budget stays in tier two and tier three cities.

"There is lack of trust amongst customers in terms of the quality of budget hotels in smaller cities and this lack of quality assurance is the problem we are trying to solve," Sheth, who is head of partnerships at Vista Rooms, said in a press statement.

Mumbai-based Stay Vista Pvt Ltd, the company behind Vista Rooms, claims to have raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding to recruit new talent and bolster its technology platform.

"We started off with 15 hotels in Mumbai and Pune and are now placed to launch across multiple cities in India. With our tech-enabled systems and processes, we are in a position to expand our asset-light as well as people-light model anywhere and everywhere," said Pranav Maheshwari, co-founder and head of technology, Vista Rooms.

The company has built a network of over 450 properties across 55 cities. Its focus is on spreading the network to smaller cities such as Mangalore, Coorg, Coimbatore, Ooty, Coonoor, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Hampi, Munnar, Thekkady, Hosur, Salem, Nashik, Shirdi, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Belgaum, Lonavala, Vapi, Surat, Bharuch, Valsad, Baroda, Rajkot and others.

Vista Rooms has tied up with hotel management firm Burgeon Hotels & Resorts to assist in auditing, training and for ensuring standardised quality to customers across its properties, the statement said.

Vista rooms would compete with the likes of Zip Rooms, Oyo Rooms and Zo Rooms, Wudstay and others for a slice of the growing budget hotels aggregation space.

Anchored on an asset-light business model they are essentially aggregating standalone budget hotels, strapping them with a common brand and promising the customer a standardised set of amenities like a conventional budget hotel chain. Indeed some of them also have found venture capital investors to back their story.

They are seen as a new breed of accommodation booking providers as against large online travel agencies (OTAs) such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Goibibo and Cleartrip among others who simply list hotels of all categories.

Recently, South Africa's internet and digital media conglomerate Naspers' owned Indian OTA Goibibo floated its own version of the same business. Goibibo is eyeing a larger slice of the burgeoning hotel aggregation space by floating 'goStays', a standardised budget accommodation starting at Rs 999 per day (with free breakfast) at multiple Indian cities.

Last week, Mangrove Capital Partners-backed WudStay Travels Pvt Ltd acquired offline rival Awesome Stays to enter into six new cities.

OYO Rooms, which is one of the largest players in this space, recently raised $100 million in funding from Japanese internet conglomerate SoftBank and others. It will use this money to expand the size of its network to 50,000 rooms across 100 cities by the end of this year.

Before founding Vista Rooms, Maheshwari worked as a financial risk consultant at Ernst & Young for two years while Damani had previous stints with IFC, World Bank and different government ministries.