Makeovers help budget hotels compete: Zen Rooms

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2018 11:58 AM | Updated as of Aug 24 2018 12:05 PM

Startup Zen Rooms transforms budget hotels to make them more profitable. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Hospitality startup Zen Rooms is offering to upgrade and manage the Philippines' small and old hotels, helping them meet fast-growing demand for budget accommodations, its manager said.

Zen Rooms promises free and fast WiFi, cool air-conditioning, a hot shower, a "spotless" bed and round-the-clock service in each of its 1,400 rooms in the country, which cost P800 to P3,000 per night.

"Everyone who wants to travel, discover the world, to see their own country so we’re really surfing in that wave and targeting a lot of Filipinos which account for 60 to 65 percent of our occupancy," said Zen Rooms country manager Benjamin Nicolas.

Zen Rooms can help repaint rooms and repair leaking bathroom pipes. Red accent pillows complete the makeover.

Zen Rooms Philippines country manager Benjamin Nicolas inspects a standard hotel roomin Makati City. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

"The idea is to really take all these small hotels that are having difficulty setting up themselves because they don’t have a marketing department, because they don’t have a sales department," he said. 

"We put them all together, then all together we share all these cost of marketing and we make it easier to sell," he added. 

Zen Rooms competes locally with Red Doorz. It also operates in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Unlike Airbnb, Zen Rooms helps manage the properties.

Nicolas said Zen Rooms could add as many 1,000 more rooms this year, with small hotel owners attracted to the startup's profit sharing model.

The company is hiring 10 to 15 more people every month as it adds roughly 200 rooms to its network monthly, he said.