Is pod-stay the future of accommodation?

Co-Founder Hiren Gandhi tells us how Urbanpod is a completely new category in the shared living space.

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Urbanpod at Andheri Seepz in Mumbai is the first-of-its-kind pod hotel in India. Started in 2017, it has strengthened its presence in the hospitality industry with the growing global trend of pod stay. “One can witness the trend of shared-living and co-living spaces catching up in a big way with the travellers,” says Gandhi. The hotel has served more than 10,000 guests from 40 countries across the globe and soon plans to expand its footprint to other cities in India.

New Concept

Talking about the competition, Gandhi explains this as “A complete new-category in the shared-living and co-living space as it is the first-mover in the pod-category in India.” After completing a year of operation and testing the Mumbai-market, Gandhi feels that it is reassuring to note that as expected the pod-concept has been well accepted by travellers. “Urbanpod has seen a healthy mix of travellers from both India and international markets and have served more than 10,000 guests. With a ‘diverse’ clientele, it has served visitors from over 40-countries across the globe including US, UK, Europe, Middle-East & APAC.

The USP

The concept facilitates opportunities to network and socialises with other guests staying at the hotel and encourages the whole aspect of community-building and shared-living.

 A Smart Stay option

It is strategically located in the heart of Mumbai’s business-hub and closer to the domestic and international airport. Defining a ‘new segment’ of GenNext, futuristic, smart-accommodation and shared-living space for the new-age traveller, Urbanpod offers 140-pods, each individual pod is a compact private space with basic amenities. It is ideal for both business and leisure travellers, backpackers, single-travellers and group-travellers.

Other Markets

Urbanpod aims to spread in other metros -- Tier I & Tier II cities through franchise-model. “We are exploring one more property in Mumbai and intend to increase our capacity from 140-pods at present to 800 pods in the next 24-months,” adds Gandhi. Looking to explore strategic partnerships with real estate owners, Gandhi aims to explore large companies like IT-parks, business-hubs, PPP with railways, airports and also key pilgrim centres. “A property of 5000 to 12000 sq. ft. is apt to take up a franchise and set up a pod hotel. We will evaluate and study the viability of the location and other vital-aspects and once finalised, we will plan, design and maintain the whole unit.”

Investments

The aim is to provide an innovative and value for money product to benefit as many customers as possible and serve the society-at-large. To shape this expansion plan, Gandhi has planned to raise funds through PE, VCs & HNIs. “The funds would be used for expansion, brand-building, technology innovation, talent-acquisition, improvising on the design, exploring newer formats and enhanced value-creation. We envision to take the concept and brand pan-India and have other offshoot formats in mind too.”

Market Approach

Urban Pod has tie-ups with the leading OTAs and the bookings happen directly through the website. Currently, present only in Mumbai, Gandhi sees massive potential in other metros like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and other Tier I & Tier II cities like Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai and so on.

 Assured Interest

Catching up with global hospitality trends, the pod concept is a futuristic accommodation at a convenient-cost and a great arena to network and offer a unique experience to the Indian market. It is a space-efficient concept with no extravagant frills, so customer-delight is getting quality accommodation at an affordable cost. The dynamic charges for one pod night (classic pod/basic) would be approx. Rs. 999/- (includes taxes and breakfast).


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