Capsule hotels inching their way into hospitality industry in India
Pod hotels with capsule-size rooms just enough for a bedding, a sliding shutter for privacy, and walls decked out with just a plasma television, mirror and hangers, are gradually catching travellers fancy. The capsules could be around seven-feet long and three-feet high and carry no extra frills, where a traveller would most certainly use the ‘rooms’ to simply tuck into bed for a good night of rest. Designed primarily for the budget-conscious traveller, pods claim to offer “comfortable sleeping/resting spaces at affordable price-points” and have locker facilities for luggage and valuables, besides common restrooms.
If you think contemporary, innovative and smart hotels only boast of four-poster beds, eclectic interiors and luxe bath-tubs on Italian-marble flooring in ‘exta’ large rooms, then you may be wrong. Sleek in design and compact in size, with shared dining, relaxation and bath spaces, all a part of new range of pods, are enticing business and leisure travellers who yearn to experiment and go beyond the cliché.
Pod hotels with capsule-size rooms just enough for a bedding, a sliding shutter for privacy, and walls decked out with just a plasma television, mirror and hangers, are gradually catching travellers fancy.
The capsules could be around seven-feet long and three-feet high and carry no extra frills, where a traveller would most certainly use the ‘rooms’ to simply tuck into bed for a good night of rest. Designed primarily for the budget-conscious traveller, pods claim to offer “comfortable sleeping/resting spaces at affordable price-points” and have locker facilities for luggage and valuables, besides common restrooms.
Pods, originated in the Japanese city of Osaka in the late 1970s, were considered an example of Japanese efficiency and futuristic design. The trend, since then, has moved into several other Japanese cities, Singapore, China, the US and most recently, in India.
Although a mere dot on the market size of the global hospitality segment, pod hotels are believed to carry high potential. A report by WiseGuy Research Consultants states the global capsule hotel market will reach $226 million by 2022, from about $159 million in 2016.
“It is a gen-next, futuristic, smart accommodation and shared-living space with modest prices. The pod-theme and setting makes it a great arena to network and make new friends,” says Hiren Gandhi, co-founder of UrbanPod, a pod hotel in Mumbai.
Pod hotels are now catching on with Indian travellers, say experts. Gandhi says they have witnessed several people in the 30-45 years bracket opting for pods and in the last one year have hosted about 10,000 guests . “In addition, a sizeable number of women travellers prefer pods especially since we have an exclusive ladies pods section.”
Millennial travellers are embracing this concept even more simply because it is still fresh and unusual in India, says Karan Anand, head – relationships, Cox&Kings. “Apart from affordability, novelty is the main factor driving the popularity of capsule hotels.”
According to Anand, countries like India have modified the Japanese version of pod hotels to slightly larger accommodations and also private baths. “This new version is getting popular amongst backpackers and individual travellers.”
A night’s stay in a pod can cost from Rs 1,000- 2,000 per head. But in an era when Airbnb, budget hotel networks like Treebo and OYO, and budget brands of international chains like Ibis, Ginger, etc., are making major strides, why would individuals still come to a pod? Wouldn’t travellers prefer paying Rs 500 or even Rs 1000 more to get a decent size room with a ‘king’ or ‘queen’ bed and private baths?
“A number of traveller segments require purely sleep or rest infrastructure. Budget hotels have been there, but a sleek hygienic pod is bound to have higher appeal. Apart from business travellers, students travelling to write exams and people going on pilgrimages could benefit from pod hotels. A number of underserved destinations like Shirdi, Sabarimala or Vaishno Devi can benefit with this format of accommodation,” says Ankit Rastogi, vice president, accommodation and activities, Cleartrip.
Gandhi says each player in the hospitality ecosystem represents a category with a unique set of experiences. “Hence we don’t look at each other as competition. While the pod format is an upgrade of hostels, it also gives a unique stay experience as Airbnb offers to its guests,” says Gandhi, adding that UrbanPod plans to increase capacity from 140 pods at present to 800 pods in the next 24 months.
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$226 mn The global capsule hotel market will reach by 2022
Rs 2,000 maximum is what a night’s stay in a pod would cost
7 Pod hotels in India, as per booking.com
Source: DNA Money