Budget hotel accommodation provider Treebo on September 10 said it will rope in intermediaries such as auto-rickshaws, cab drivers, individual agents and shopkeepers as its agents to drive sales.
These agents, who typically operate at airports, railway stations, and bus-stands, often help travellers arriving in the city with their travel bookings, as many do not make prior arrangements.
The company has launched Hero, a mobile application for these agents on which they can show customers Treebo's inventory and make bookings.
By bringing this traditional offline activity into the formal online space, Treebo is targeting a new customer segment that has conventionally transacted with and trusted these offline intermediaries.
As per a 2016 report by global research agency Millward Brown, only 25 percent of the hotels are booked online in India, the rest are still done offline.
“As a hotel chain we have always used both online and offline channels to drive sales for us, and we have deployed technology to drive convergence between them. With the launch of Hero we are tapping into another potent sales channel - the local offline intermediaries,” said Sidharth Gupta, co-founder, Treebo Hotels.
The development comes at a time when its Softbank-backed rival Oyo is expanding its presence in international markets.
Treebo currently has an inventory of 10,000 rooms across 400 hotels in 85 cities in India. It offers accommodation to travellers in the price range of Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000.
Founded in 2015, the company works on a franchise model where in it helps property owners develop, design and standardise hotel services.
It last raised around $34 million in a round led by Hong Kong-based investment firms Ward Ferry Management and Karst Peak Capital, in 2017.
The company also has investors such as Bertelsmann India Investments, which is the strategic investment arm of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann SE. KGaA, SAIF and Matrix partners are also on Treebo's board.