Sick of staying in hotels? Travelmob offers unique alternatives

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 01 2013 03:26 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2013 01:32 AM

Travelmob founders Turochas Fuad and Prashant Kirtane.

MANILA, Philippines - Sick of staying in small, cramped and overpriced hotel rooms? How would you like to stay in traditional Vietnamese house? Or a  gondola chalet near Hokkaido's ski slopes? Better yet, why not rent a private island in Coron?

These are just some of the options offered on travelmob, a social stay marketplace for the Asia Pacific region. On the website, users can find and book unique places, such as swanky lofts and house boats, owned by local hosts in Asia Pacific cities.

Travelmob was founded by friends and former Yahoo execs Turochas Fuad and Prashant Kirtane.

"We target guests, who travel around the world, businessmen, expats, medical tourists, who seek non-traditional accommodations. On the other side are property owners who have apartments, vacation villas to rent out... We are the middle man putting guests and hosts together," Fuad, travelmob CEO, said said in a press conference in Makati on Thursday.

Fuad and Kirtane believe in "collaborative consumption, a concept introduced in "What's Mine is YOurs" book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. Fuad noted that there are estimates the consumer peer-to-peer rental market can grow into a $26 billion sector.

Unlike in the past when tourists were content with getting package tours with hotel and tour guide, Fuad believes that many travellers prefer getting a "local" experience when visiting a new city.

"Our vision is to enable travellers around the world to experience Asia as a local," Fuad said.

Kirtane, travelmob's CTO, said he and Fuad always stay at one of the properties listed on travelmob whenever they travel abroad. He said one can get a truly "local experience" when one stays at an apartment and meet locals.

Booking a property from travelmob can also be cheaper, especially if one if travelling with a big group.

For instance, Fuad noted in Hong Kong, a hotel room in Causeway Bay can go for $200 to $350 a night, whereas travelmob has listings for 2-3 bedroom apartments which can fit 10 people for $250 a night.

Travelmob can also give travellers a wide array of options, whether they're looking for a budget stay or a romantic place or something luxurious and unique. Users can easily filter their choices on travelmob, using the "experience tags" such as "budget", "boutique", "shopping" or "nature."

In the Philippines, one can find apartments for rent in Makati or even a private island in Coron. The island can be rented for only $830 a night.

But the most expensive place on travelmob would probably be a 5-bedroom villa in Phuket, with its own infinity pool and magnificent views of the Andaman Ocean. The nightly rate? Almost $10,000. 

PH is a top destination

Travelmob is focusing on Asia Pacific, which it sees as growing travel market, with rising incomes among middle class groups and increasing tourist numbers.

Kirtane said the Philippines is ranked third in terms of top destinations on the travelmob website. The top 2 destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore.

Interestingly, 50% to 60% of travelmob bookings occur in the same month of travel. Kirtane said the average lead time between booking and actual check-in is less than a week.

This is why travelmob has recently launched a new feature "Last Minute Deals," which allow travellers to find great bargains and allow hosts to market unsold rooms and properties in the next 7 days.

"We are a small company, 7 months old. We have a lot to catch up to. We have to do smart ways, find bigger partners. We want to be Asia Pacific's  number one social stay marketplace," Fuad said.