How Nida is uberising hotel rooms: Funding growth

Kaneswaran Avili’s name card says he’s the “disruptor” and co-founder of Nida Rooms, which he claims to be the first and largest “Virtual Hotel Operator” (VHO) in South-east Asia.

Asked what he’s disrupting, he said “my divisions” and “my staff” and not the hotel industry as I had anticipated. “Disrupting my divisions to make my staff be in tune with the changing way of doing our business.”

Although he did not say he was disrupting the hospitality industry, he is definitely creating waves as a Virtual Hotel Operator, a label he laid claim to when he launched the company last October from Kuala Lumpur.

“We basically don’t own the hotels. It’s like the ‘uberising’ of taxis, we’re ‘uberising’ hotels, taking a number of rooms (usually five to 10) in each of these qualified hotels and then rebrand them as Nida Rooms. We’re a room-only product.”

The company focuses on small hotels (60-80 rooms) that are individually branded – “but good hotels” providing six key items – clean rooms, comfortable beds, air-conditioned rooms, WiFi and functional amenities.

“Most of the hotels are individually branded, they do not have any brand recognition per se, so people don’t recognise their brands. By having a Nida Rooms brand they are making their properties more well recognised, and being part of the largest brand in South-east Asia.”

The formula is simple – clean budget rooms in a good location at the right price of below US$30. Similar to AirAsia where he used to work, the earlier you book, the lower the price.

The company has teams on the ground to check out the rooms before listing them. They inspect the facilities and rooms are then categorised by quality – super good, premium, and standard – before being rebranded as Nida Rooms and listed.

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