As a General Manager in the hospitality sector, Paras Sangwan realised that most of the clients looked for service apartments instead of hotels for long stays as these were cost effective. However, in the absence of a one-point contact for service apartment owners and corporate clients, company administrations either had to book apartments through several vendors or ended up booking hotels.
Mr. Sangwan decided to change the trend by decreasing hotel costs for companies and removing their fixed cost by eliminating the guest house concept. He says, “Most service apartment owners generally have properties in one or two areas. So for every location, the administration of a company has to find many service apartment vendors, which is a tedious task.”
Mr. Sangwan shared the concept with Arpit Awasthi, his flat mate, who worked with Accenture as team leader and had a good knowledge of web technologies. With an investment of ₹5 lakh and two employees, they founded PAJASA Apartments (PAJAS in Sanskrit means growth) in 2014.
The main challenge was to bring in uniformity, as each city in India has its own rule for service apartments. In Mumbai, for instance, all service apartments factor in electricity bills into the tariff while in Delhi, apartment owners charge extra for electricity consumed.
Says Mr. Sangwan, CEO, “We have created our own set of rules and based on these, we sign contracts with service apartment owners across India.”
Since the service apartment industry is not well organised, it was a challenge to lend a structure to the process, from enquiry to bookings, guest stay and billings to feedback.
It took almost a year for them to create an automated online web application for booking/invoice/report as well as for service apartment inventory. Says Zarar Ali, Senior Software Developer, “As service apartments are very different from hotels, it was not possible to have the same application for managing bookings.” PAJASA provides service apartments on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to corporates on a ‘pay per use’ basis.
How bookings are done
PAJASA first surveys a property at a given location and signs a contract with the owner. The pictures of the property along with the details are then put on their application and website. Once the company administration requests a booking for their guest through mail or the application, the team checks the best accommodation available near the work location (a maximum of 5 km in metros); and checks availability. The system then generates a booking. A confirmation voucher is sent to the guest and the company administration. The guest can check all the details and the location through Google Maps. Says Satbir Singh, Sales Manager, “We also have a 24x7 helpline where a guest or company administration official can log a grievance. We make sure to fix the problem within half-an-hour.”
PAJASA has over 200 clients, and a more than 2,000-room inventory including studio apartments; one, two, three and four-bedroom-hall-kitchen apartments.
Based on the location, one room in any apartment usually costs between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 4,000 a day. The tariff includes morning breakfast, fully furnished airconditioned rooms with a dedicated caretaker, a working kitchen, washing machines and basic amenities that guests can use. Says Mr. Awasthi, CTO, “These tariffs are fixed and do not change like with hotels.”
IMS Health Care has been regularly using the services of PAJASA since more than a year. Says Anita Jain, Senior Executive Administrator, “Earlier we relied heavily on hotel bookings for corporate stay, which was expensive, and many a time were far away from the work location due to unavailability of space. The service apartments offered by PAJASA are equipped with all the amenities and are provided in areas we mention. More importantly, complaints get resolved within an hour.”
Growth and expansion
In 2016-2017, PAJASA clocked a revenue of ₹1.75 crore. By 2020, they are targeting a listing of 50,000 rooms on their website with more than 2,000 corporates registered with them.
There is also a plan to increase the team size to 50 and make the booking process fully automated. Mr. Awasthi says they prefer organic growth and are not looking for investors just yet. “We are working exclusively with corporates right now. In future, we want to become a pre-eminent global service apartment company: the first choice of guests, team members and corporates.”
Founders: Paras Sangwan, Arpit Awasthi