Interview with Sandeep Jaiswal, Co-Founder & CEO MiStay

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About MiStay

MiStay allows booking hotels rooms by pack of hours with flexible check-in and check-out time.

Instead of the rigid full day booking (12 noon – 12 noon) being done traditionally, MiStay offers booking based on slots (8 am – 11 am (Morning slot), 12 noon – 7 pm (Day slot), 8 pm – 7 am (Night slot)). Travelers can book a room for appropriate combination of slots and pay only for time stayed.

The hotel facing product (extranet) gives hotels complete control on the rate and the inventory. Hoteliers can decide not only the number of rooms but also the slots (pack of hours) which they want to sell and the price at which they want to sell. This enables hotels to optimise their inventory and revenue based on their occupancy rate.

MiStay was launched in April 2016.

Founders Background

Sandeep Jaiswal (Co-Founder & CEO) is an avid traveller and an IIT Madras alumnus with 2 yrs. experience in management consulting. Most recently, he worked with strategy consulting firm, Essex Lake Group, where he devised profit enhancement solutions for one of the largest banks in South Africa, and also filed 2 patents for developing analytical tools. Prior to joining Essex, he co-founded a for-profit social enterprise, AmrutDhara, which was aimed at reducing the environmental hazard from bottled water by providing a sustainable alternative. He leads operations & business development at MiStay.

Pranav Prabhakar (Co-Founder & CTO) is a Computer Science graduate from IIT Madras with over 3 yrs. experience in design & product development. He has worked as software engineer at LinkedIn. Prior to joining LinkedIn, he had founded a new media start-up, Cinemagrapher, where he developed an innovative product to help photographers and marketers automatically create cinemagraphs from short videos. Earlier, he had also co-founded HireFellas, a curated marketplace for photographers. He leads technology & product at MiStay.

How did the Founders’ meet?

Pranav & I, both of us are alumni of IIT Madras (I was a year senior to Pranav). We both worked together as part of the organizing team of our cultural fest, Saarang. Later, we both went on to start our own ventures while being at IIT. I started AmrutDhara while Pranav started HireFellas (a marketplace for photographers). Our first ventures did not succeed for different reasons and we took up job for financial stability. However, we both were aware of our complimenting skill-sets and the entrepreneurial mindset. Hence, when I came across the idea of MiStay and decided to start-up, I approached Pranav and sold him the idea. After couple of months of brainstorming and discussions, he came on-board. Below is the brief profile of both of us:

How we came across the idea?

The inspiration to start MiStay came when I faced the problem firsthand. I am an avid traveller myself. In Aug 2015, I was travelling to Amritsar to visit Wagah Border along with few of my friends. We had booked a hotel room online. When we reached the hotel early morning, we were denied the room because we were early while the standard check-in time of hotel was 12 noon. Eventually, after a lot of negotiation with hotel staff and hassle we managed to check-in early by paying half day extra rent. We realised, we stayed in the hotel effectively for only around 9 hours (less than half a day) but we ended up paying for a one and half day. When we started thinking about it, we could find many associated problems, like people require a room for only few hours to freshen up before a meeting or during long layover but often don’t book a hotel as they don’t want to pay for an entire day. At the same time, the average occupancy rate of hotels in India is only around 60% and hotels are struggling to increase the occupancy. So we realised there is a lot inefficiency in the system which can be optimised for the benefit of travellers as well as hotels, and that’s how MiStay was born.

This video summarises the story of genesis of MiStay:

Business Model

We operate as a marketplace. We get a TAC (Travel Agent Commission) from the partner hotels on every transaction done through MiStay.

Challenges Faced

When we started more than a year back, the biggest challenge was educating the hoteliers. The concept of hourly booking with flexible timings was largely unheard of, and hoteliers were sceptical about it because of the stigma associated with the concept.

In the last one and half years, however, the industry has already changed drastically and the model has received tremendous acceptance among the hotels. We take pride in playing instrumental role in this, though this has also been triggered by the excessive emphasis on day-use rooms by the branded chains such as Lemon Tree, Ginger, Keys Hotels and others.

Apart from the taboo associated with the concept, the other challenge we continue to face is that the existing inventory management and distribution channels such as Property Management System and Channel Managers are not equipped to support slot-wise room bookings. We are in the process of collaborating with these different stakeholders in the industry to drive the change in the ecosystem and make flexible hotel booking mainstream.

Market Presence

We have partnered with over 250 hotels across 20 cities in India with majority of hotels in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and other metros. Our partner hotels include branded hotel chains such as The Park Hotels, The Pride Hotels, Keys Hotel, Sarovar Hotel, Treebo Hotels, Mango Hotels. Also, several standalone premium hotels such as Hablis Hotel in Chennai, Genesis Resorts Hotel in Mumbai,

Kenilworth Hotel in Kolkata, Clarks Exotica Hotel in Bangalore are our partners. Many other branded

chains are also in the process of coming on-board.

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He has a deep interest in startups & technology and extremely passionate about startups.