Who’s staying?

Budget hotel start-ups are finally coming of age, after a period of painful learning and self-discovery


It has followed the script of most boom-bust stories: the start-up frenzy, the FoMO, euphoria, the implosion of many and then the survival of the fittest. In 2015, the budget hotel space was viewed as one of the most exciting segments. OYO Rooms had already started becoming a neighbourhood name. Ritesh Agarwal, just 21 years old then — Thiel Fellow and a college dropout — had become a media darling. And with the kind of growth OYO was seeing, it was only natural for over a dozen start-ups to jump into the frenzy that was hotel aggregation, between 2014-2016. This included names such as, RoomsTonite, ZO Rooms and WudStay. The $10 billion budget hotels segment was huge and lucrative, but there was a catch for the aggregators — monetisation wasn’t easy.