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Online travel solutions portal provides access to over 3,000 budget properties
September, 12th 2011

India is every budget traveller's dream destination, boasting everything from bed-and-breakfasts (B&Bs) to no-frill hotels. However, since very few players in this space have an online presence, ferreting out such information is typically an offline process, which takes place by word of mouth or through travel agents. Successfully trying to address this problem is, a Noida-based travel solution firm set up in 2009 by three men in their 30s-Varun Chawla, Jitender Arora and Prashant Chauhan.

Log on to the site and you'll find service apartments, guest houses, B&Bs, homestays, boutique establishments, and two- and three-star hotels across India. According to the company, "Over 90% of the properties are priced under Rs3,000 per night. The average property price in major cities is Rs 1,500, and as low as Rs 750 in smaller cities."

You can search and review details of properties listed on the site, including pictures, refund policies and amenities. Here's how it works: key in your basic requirements like location, dates and price, check out the options that are thrown up and make a booking. The site also has a unique rating and ranking system, providing feedback from the travellers who have booked through this site.

The company caters largely to the business-to-business (B2B) space. The model allows hoteliers to update their inventory in real time and manage inventory distribution, enabling assured bookings for customers and no last-minute supply issues. The firm has already enlisted over 3,000 properties in India and is now trying to include every corner of the country.

It all began in 2006, when a client approached Arora-who had set up a software firm-to work on a property management system (PMS) for a hotel. This software is used to create a seamless booking and transaction process for customers. While working on it, Arora found that it could be taken forward to integrate several players under a travel value chain. At this point, the client ran out of funds, but Arora's passion led him to invest from his own pocket and spearhead the formation of the company.

He met Chawla in July 2009 to franchise the model since he wanted to have partners across india who could recruit properties. Chawla, who was heading Siddharth Travels, felt that the budget travel industry had huge scope for growth. "Budget accommodation is not just for the cautious spender. Today, people prefer smart spending," he says.

From March 2009 till date, Arora and Chawla have invested Rs1.25 crore from their savings. They also received an angel investment of $100,000 in October 2010. Though they started the firm in 2009, they didn't begin operations till October 2010. "For 15 months, we built technology and talked to property owners to build inventories. We also created free sites for participating players with dedicated booking engines and payment gateways," says Chawla.

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