Contxto – Based on recent developments, we can assume that Ayenda Rooms is doing pretty well. Back in March, the Colombian company raised US$1.2 million from investors including SoftBank, 500Startups, among others. Now, it’s investing that same amount in independent hotels across Colombia.
Off to a good start
The company’s first year of operations allegedly resulted in over US$1 million of revenue. Due to its great start, it’s apparently ready to start developing the Colombian tourism industry altogether.
For instance, it is seeking to establish partnerships with independent hotels, meaning not big corp franchises or chains. And why would these hoteliers do that? Well, Ayenda expects to increase its occupancy rate by 30 percent in the first three months. Bold claims!
According to Hosteltur, Colombia’s hospitality industry is facing an underlying problem that not many people are addressing. Although tourism is increasing due to the country’s popularity for both business and vacation trips, independent hotels are hardly seeing any improvement.
In fact, many Colombian startups are still operating under losses, unable to even cover operational expenses.
And it makes sense, honestly. As tourism increases, big corporations spot the opportunity and launch more facilities. On top of that, other substitute products such as Airbnb fragment the market even further.
Moreover, many of the big tech companies and big hotel chains have a significant budget to spend on marketing and promotional activities. In contrast, small hotels can only stick to word of mouth and maybe handing out flyers on the street.
So, it’s not that these establishments aren’t providing great services. Rather, people just aren’t aware of them.
Ayenda hopes to change that. According to Andrés Sarrazola, Ayenda’s CEO and co-founder, it is actively looking for businesses with specific characteristics to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
Within the next two years, it will search and find these hotels, expecting to positively impact over 300 of them in terms of marketing and sales.
How is this a win-win deal, you may be asking? While Ayenda increases its offerings for users, hoteliers can now get back on the map with heightened visibility over the platform.
Not only does Ayenda help in terms of publicity, but also provides digital channel presence optimization, loans for facility repairs or modifications, as well as personnel training.
There are particular requirements for Ayenda to be able to partner with hotels. First, the establishment must be independent. It also should be underperforming the 50 percent occupancy mark frequently. Also, it must cost between US$20 to US$33 per night to be eligible.
Ayenda’s main target market focuses on people looking for affordable, low-cost options while keeping a great service and experience. The startup is certainly increasing its offerings and customer support, which is very nice to have featured when booking online.
Back in January 2018, the company’s monthly volume didn’t even surpass 1,000 bookings. In June 2019, though, Ayenda reached an all-time high with over 10,000 booked rooms. Impressively, that’s a 1,000 percent growth rate in less than 18 months.
Things are looking good for Ayenda, and based on how similar the markets are cross-region, I would dare to predict it’ll be launching in Mexico in the next few months.