By Dr GG Saxena
Co-author, “Indian BnBs: An emerging disruptor in the Hospitality sector”
“So you hail from the city that I shall be visiting soon, huh”- he confirmed with her and continued “Do you know a good place to stay in the city?”
“You mean a hotel??!”- she enquired.
You generally notice that ‘Hotel” is used whenever ‘accomodation’ criteria are discussed, be it amongst tourism stakeholders or academia pursuing tourism courses/vacations studies.
With homestays and other experiential accommodation especially BnBNation Airbnb etc. coming into the picture monopoly of hotels is going to be over.
Furthermore, in U.K., the homestays provide almost 40% off accommodation for inbound tourists. The hotel industry, at least in India, is unable to cope up with the demand of incoming tourists mainly in the budget category. You may be thinking that hotels are generally lying vacant or there is less occupancy there, you may be right but it is true for 4 or 5 star or equivalent category hotels where occupancy rates may be less than 60% ( lesser occupancy makes hotel construction, an unviable proposition for hoteliers). The main problem is of non-availability of budgets /economy hotels or 1 to 3-star or equivalent category.
Current scenario of Indian Hospitality sector
In the year 2012, India was short of about 1,90,000 hotels rooms while inbound tourist arrival (8% per year growth) was more than world tourist arrival (3%to to 4% per year growth). Above it, domestic visitors in India are growing at the rate of 15% and there are already 1.25 billion such tourists visiting other places in India. These tourists too are not staying with friends and/or relatives. Thus, there is more demand for budget accommodation but the question that comes to the mind is where are the rooms?!
Another scenario is that today’s tourists including foreign individual tourist is not keen to stay in 4 or 5-star hotels but prefer good quality authentic haveli type of stay. Are haveli type homestays available in India? When did you stay in a haveli last time? Do you remember?
Havelis are only available for stay in Rajasthan and a few are available in Delhi. As per my experience as one of the authors of the book (Secy. Tourism Andaman Nicobar Island or MD & CEO of DTTDC), there was exclusive demand from country’s tourist operators” to provide havelis”. We have a long list of foreign tourists who visit India and want to stay in Haveli type accommodations.
In India, we are unable to meet demand in the response of adequate supply. So, what is the solution? The need of the hour is to construct and reconstruct the heritage of India by taking care of our tangible and intangible heritage sources.
BnBs as an alternate mode of accommodation
Among the alternatives in the accommodation, the sector is BnBs / homestays, which are carved out of existing rooms in the homes. At present, there are about 10,000 rooms all over India are registered to be used as “stays option for tourists”.
India is always bubbling with activity be it a fair, religious event, conference, sports extravaganza like the IPL or for medical facilities etc. Such events and activities attract larger footfall. Naturally, organizers and stakeholders are in search of homes where incoming guests/spectators/participants would be accommodated. Such homes converted into BnBs/Homestays could be a very useful way of matching demand and supply of rooms. No authority or agency can create temporary hotels to meet the intermittent demand of rooms in the wake of such fair/festivals/tourist meets.
So as tourism expert, I can foresee the future of homestays as a disruptor in accommodation aka hospitality industry. This demand is being met by international players like Airbnb which court controversy on and off. It is claimed by Airbnb that there are already 75000 rooms listing in Indian cities through hardly 5% or so are registered or authentic. Can you stay in a home who is not accountable to the government? Thus, registration of BnBs is a necessary prerequisite.
Staying in a BnB has its own set of benefits such as cultural exchange and since the bond between the guest and the host gets deeper as time passes, the guest not only gains a friend in a foreign country but earns a loving and caring Indian family.
Are you ready to embrace a new experience, a new culture and a new home?
About the Author:
Dr GG Saxena is retired Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of AGMUT 1996 batch. Subject matter expert in Tourism Infrastructure and in PPP model. He retired in Nov. 2013 as M.D. & CEO of Delhi Tourism (DTTDC), an undertaking of Government of Delhi. He completed my PhD in Bed and Breakfast scheme in Delhi. This is the only PhD on Bed and Breakfast in India.
He is the co-author of “Indian BnBs: An emerging disruptor in the Hospitality sector”. The other authors are Anshul Saxena and Ambuj Saxena.