It’s looking like 2016 will be a big one for budget accommodation in Southeast Asia. Which is great news for business travelers, and my expense claims. RedDoorz, one of a number of companies offering a standardized hotel stay without breaking the bank, has landed SG$2 million (around $1.4 million) in fresh funding to expand out of Indonesia, the market it debuted in last year.
The concept is simple enough. RedDoorz works with hotels and guest houses to resell their rooms while maintaining a guaranteed standard of quality and service for customers. The idea is to take the hassle out of finding accommodation by offering a ‘RedDoorz approved’ experience — including free WiFi, satellite TV, “quality” linen and more — at any hotel, so customers can focus on important factors like location and price rather than reliability.
Beyond a low-priced room, the service has a focus on mobile — 70 percent of bookings are made from mobile devices — which includes a concierge service and 24-hour customer assistance if required.
This RedDoorz funding round, which is described as being pre-Series A, follows significant moves from a number of startups offering similar services.
India’s OYO Rooms, the company that pioneered this genre and is backed by SoftBank and others, expanded into Southeast Asia recently, while other rivals have sprouted up, too. Newly formed Rocket Internet-backed Zenrooms is one example, while Nida Rooms is another entrant that is initially focused on Indonesia.
RedDoorz, to its credit, was first to bring the concept to Southeast Asia. It debuted in Indonesia in July 2015, and has expanded to cover around 200 properties across the country.
Commenting on the increasing competition, RedDoorz CEO and founder Amit Saberwal — formerly chief product officer at India travel booking giant MakeMyTrip — stressed that execution and experience are key differentiators.
“It’s an interesting model and obviously there will be clones [but] there’s a learning curve, each company has to go through one. That’s not something you can copy,” Saberwal told TechCrunch in an interview.
In terms of expansion, the RedDoorz expects to move into new countries soon.
“We will launch shortly in various other countries, and are primarily looking at Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. We’re also exploring Singapore which is interesting but completely different [to other parts of Southeast Asia],” he said.
Besides the competition offering similar services, Airbnb is perhaps another choice for consumers seeking a quality experience on a budget, albeit that its appeal is unique experiences whereas RedDoorz and its ilk are offering guarantees around a predictable experience.
“Airbnb is a fantastic platform,” said Saberwal. “But it is not great for a business traveler. One thing we solve is standardization. We take away from customers mind what they’ll get [and] if they [do] have a problem, there’s someone available 24/7 who can help.”