Already the largest and fastest growing Virtual Hotel Chain (VHC) in Southeast Asia, less than a year old NIDA Rooms offers value proposition to both hotel operators and customers.
By Percy Roxas.
With the face of global travel changing drastically because of online hotel bookings, it is not surprising that more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. But some companies are not just riding the trend. Some are out to revolutionize the industry – like NIDA Rooms, which has opened its Bangkok office in February this year. NIDA Rooms is on a phenomenal trail. Since its incorporation in September last year, the company has grown to become the largest VHC in the region with over 3,000 hotels and over 5.4 million rooms over the span of just seven months. Formed to “revolutionize the Southeast Asian hospitality industry,” NIDA Rooms already has over 1,300 hotels in Thailand offering 2.3 million rooms and growing.
Lookeast Magazine recently spoke with Atakawee “Eddie” Choosang, NIDA Rooms’ country head for Global Rooms Limited who runs all operations and business activities for the Thailand division. Eddie, who holds an MA from Cornell University, has been critical in structuring and leading the team including the Partnership Sales Division that is currently 70-members strong. Under his leadership, Global Rooms Limited Thailand has signed over 1,300 hotel contracts in a span of three months, making NIDA Rooms the largest VHC in Southeast Asia.
Q: What’s behind the NIDA Rooms concept and how is it revolutionary?
A: NIDA Rooms focuses on the underserved three-star and below hotels by obtaining their unsold rooms at deep discount level. The lower prices are strategically transferred to the end consumers. A minimum of five rooms per hotel is taken from a hotel’s unsold inventory. This concept addresses a persistent and prevalent problem especially in the lower segment of the industry where occupancy rates tend to be lower. We utilize a unique model, which is very similar to the Low Cost Carrier (LCC) airline model where a product or service is provided to customers through a fully dynamic pricing model that makes it affordable to a wider range of customers.
Q: How is it different from other existing hotel online booking companies?
A: Underserved rooms taken by NIDA Rooms are branded, decorated, and serviced under the NIDA Rooms brand. Selected hotel partners display the NIDA Rooms permanent exterior signage, representing the fact that the partner hotel has met the standards of NIDA Rooms, which ensures that the hotel provides essential requirements most often desired by travelers, i.e.: a clean room, comfortable bed, Wi-Fi, hot showers, and air-conditioning. Bookings with instant confirmation can conveniently be made through its website as well as via it mobile application, which is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Q: What is NIDA Rooms target in Thailand?
A: Our target is to reach 2,200 hotels across Thailand by the end of 2016. Thailand is already the largest in terms of NIDA Rooms supply across the regional portfolio.
NIDA Rooms is located strategically in all the major cities across Thailand, including but not limited to, Chiang Mai, Chiangrai, Udonthani, Ubon Rachathani, Nong Khai, Korat, Maha Sarakam, Hatyai, Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Songkla, Pattaya, Rayong, Hua Hin, Phitsanulok, and Bangkok.
Q: Tell us about how does your proposition benefit both the end consumers and your hotel partners?
A: The value proposition we offer to our hotel partners is threefold: increased revenues, increased reach, and increased recognition. Let me elaborate. By selling the hotel’s unsold rooms under its own brand, NIDA Rooms helps hotels owners/operators increase revenues without cannibalizing on existing business. Because the hotels we work with are predominantly 3-stars and below and are single brands or small local chains, they often do not have the ability to market themselves to a wider audience. Our centralized marketing and PR activities help hotel reach new customers and bring them to the hotel, where the hotel can then further increase revenues by offering other ancillary products and services. And because three-star and below hotel stays are often a hit-and-miss affair, their association with NIDA Rooms provides guests with peace of mind knowing that NIDA Rooms has done all the hard work of ensuring the partner hotels meet a minimum standards. With the brand association, more customers will be reassured to stay with hotels that partner with NIDA Rooms.
As for the travelers, those who book hotels through NIDA Rooms are guaranteed the best location, the right price and the right quality. This is because NIDA Rooms conducts a 150-point check before entering into an association with any hotel. We ensure that the basic needs are met. Once a hotel has passed the checklist, NIDA Rooms then conducts another inspection to ensure that standards remain. We also encourage customer feedback so questionnaires are as critical. Our Customer Service division handles feedback from rooms sold under NIDA Rooms on its own.
Q: It seems that there’s nowhere to go for NIDA Rooms but up. Is it too early to reveal your expansion plans?
A: In fact, our eyes are already eyeing expansion. We are keen on Vietnam. The expansion plan involves a concentration of additional hotels in the tier-1 cities and to reach 50% penetration of the hotels in tier tier-1 cities by end of 2016. Secondly, desired travelers’ behaviors are studied thoroughly, namely the frequent independent travelers, SME business owners, and sole proprietors. Further research will be done to understand the traveling behavior as well as their accommodation selection process in order to plan for effective penetration.
Also, sales and marketing activities will be enhanced. We have already started full scale marketing activities since April, consisting of all online channels, public relations as well as partnerships.
We are confident that our marketing objectives have reached both the hotel partners and end users. However, we plan to give more focus on end users to educate them of the new, exciting concept as well as to build up brand confidence. Troops of 60-80 partnership managers in Thailand are on the ground reaching out directly to the hotel partners. NIDA Rooms’ management team is confident of its future because of the phenomenal feedback it has been receiving and the number of hotel partners NIDA Rooms that has signed-up. This market is un-penetrated and NIDA Rooms believes this is a win-win situation for all.