Introducing Amit Mahajan from Pura Stays
“Wherever you go, travel becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai
Travel has taken up a crucial role in our lives. People aren’t just traveling annually anymore. Whether you need to get away from the monotony of life, learn about new cultures, or just find yourself – travel makes possible, giving you a greater sense of your being and helping you connect with the diversity around.
Where you stay is an important part of the experience, and there could often be times when you’re willing to shell out some extra money but do not find stay options worth your spend.
Step in Pura Stays!
This week, we’re introducing our member Amit Mahajan, who is the CEO and Founder of Pura Stays, which is setting up a network of co-branded holiday accommodation across the country for you to enjoy your stay as much as your trip.
Amit, having had multiple years of experience in the hospitality industry, started this when he realized the growth potential in domestic leisure travel given the increasing urban population and the rising weekend culture across the country. This idea came to him around 2 years ago when he was on a sabbatical from his corporate job. During this period, he visited a couple of hill stations, and a lot of boutique properties and holiday homes. That’s when he saw an opportunity to organize a selection of unbranded properties thereby enabling higher occupancies, operating efficiencies and enhanced guest satisfaction levels.
The opportunity that we see is that there is a very limited supply of branded leisure hotels in the country. As per stats, only 20% of the branded hotel room inventory is available at leisure destinations and that too with high concentration in the states of Goa and Kerala. Accordingly, there’s very limited brand recall in the rest of the country. But at the same time, holidays are no more an annual affair. People are looking for quick getaways across the country”.
Pura Stays: Concept
The name “Pura” comes from the Spanish word “Pura Vida”, which means pure life. It’s not just a phrase but a way of life – which aligns with and gives strength to Pura Stays’ vision and mission.
Amit says, “We are actually creating a network of co-branded holiday accommodation with standardised holiday accommodation and operating processes for an assured service quality. Two factors – standardised accommodation and reliable service quality – form the core of our value proposition.”
Pura Stays provides a comprehensive marketing and operating support system to unbranded holiday accommodation across midscale to luxury segment. Amit explains, “What we’re seeing is a huge demand which is coming up in the market, but there is no institutional money which is backing the development of large resorts, reason being it is a low occupancy product with high cost of development involved – since the demand is seasonal that too during holidays and weekends. The large developments are not feasible per se in large part of the country.
The opportunity that we’re seeing is that across all destinations there is this small inventory holiday accommodation which is mushrooming up to cater to the increasing demand. Largely, a part of this supply comprises of private accommodation which is getting into commercial use. Let’s say you had an extra property in the hills someplace. The maintenance cost would be too high and you would be paying the caretaker to take care of a place no one lives in. The best bet is utilizing that property for commercial use. What people are doing is they’re adding 4-5 rooms to the property they had kept for themselves and making them apt for commercial use. Then, this inventory is being developed across the country. In addition, small resorts are also coming up. We tie up and co-brand these properties and help market them and organize the key operating aspects besides standardizing the guest room features.”
Pura Stays also curates experiences, to help their customers get the most out of their stay. For example – your stay could also include Paragliding, Kayaking and a variety of sumptuous food options!
The Idea was rolled out in August 2016, and Pura Stays is already 7 locations strong! They have 54 rooms across these 7 properties.
Amit, shedding more light on the expansion, says, “We’re following a feeder market-based rollout of clusters. If Delhi-NCR is the feeder market, then we have identified 14-15 getaway destinations around Delhi. Each destination is called a cluster. We have rolled out the concept by operating a small inventory of 54 rooms across 7 properties in our first cluster – ‘Around Nainital’ – out of which two properties are in the luxury segment, two properties are upscale segment and three properties are mid-scale segment. We don’t work with the economy in budget segment.”
The intent is to create these clusters, with each cluster having about 200-300 rooms. We have already identified about 80 clusters in the country.”
On future plans, Amit says, “We need to strengthen our finances and execution capability. We are working towards fund-raising and scaling it up as of now.”
Advice to Wannapreneurs
When we asked him the one advice he would like to give people who are starting up, here’s what he had to say, “A lot of perseverance is needed. Learning, of course, is there. The good thing about startups is that it’s not bookish. You have to think through, connect with people and execute.”
InstaOffice and Pura Stays
On his experience with his current office, we were delighted to hear good notes! Amit says, “It’s a good space. The staff is good and people are pretty much down-to-earth. The centre is beautifully designed as a combination of private and open space. We would like to scale up here in the future.”
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