Ekostay Enables Travellers To Experience The Cosiness Of A Private Homestay Away From Home

Husain Khatumdi who is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ekostay, a homestay venture, discusses with Mumbai Live his journey with Ekostay.

Ekostay Enables Travellers To Experience The Cosiness Of A Private Homestay Away From Home

Husain Khatumdi is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ekostay, a homestay venture. He co-founded Ekostay in 2018 with Sohail Mirchandani, Varun Arora and Zishan Khan, with a vision to tailor the needs of the travellers who want to experience the cosiness of a private homestay away from home.

He believed that there were no legitimate organised homestay brands providing value for money accommodations. After identifying this gap in the Indian Hospitality and Real Estate sector, Husain decided to work on this business full time. With over five years of experience across the hospitality and real estate sector, Khatumdi decided to get into the business. Talking about this leap he says, “I inherited a beautiful property in Lonavala - a farmhouse that we didn’t visit regularly. Since there was no routine maintenance there, it remained in disarray for quite some time. It was disappointing seeing it go waste like that, so I decided to list it online and rent it out to tourists visiting the area. It was through this process that I found that there was no single destination online - an organized homestay brand with easy listings, offering value for money accommodations and services. I was immediately provided with an opportunity to fill that gap, and here we are today.”

Additionally, his love for travel also played a decisive role in his decision to dabble into this field. “While my forte is hospitality and I have a great deal of experience growing businesses in that arena, I believe that where and how you stay while you travel plays an integral role in your overall experience. It’s a very simple factor, but it can change the whole perspective of your trip. We aim to make our clients feel at home at each of our properties and strive for a balance between comfort and luxury without burning a big hole in the pocket,” adds Khatumdi. 

On being asked if he was sceptical about venturing into the homestay arena, considering that there existed players in the market who were renting out estates, he said, “While there were other players in the market, there wasn’t a fully-serviced homestay brand or aggregator that took care of the entire experience for a customer. The serviced private estates that did exist in the market at the time, were nowhere near economical. We also realized the potential convenience we could offer homeowners by providing them with a side income as well as regular maintenance and care of their homes, thus creating assets for them. Ekostay as a brand provides credibility, our clients can expect a great property, the convenience of an economical, hassle-free holiday as well as beautiful locations.”

Ekostay now has villas across Lonavala, Khandala, Goa, Alibaug, Mahableshwar, Panchgani, Karjat, Nashik, Igatpuri, Ooty, Bangalore and Delhi. They offer guests a selection of over 75 villas spread across 10 cities.

These locations tend to attract a different set of audiences. Husain says that families tend to choose properties that offer comfort and space for activities like lawns or pools. “They also tend to choose properties that have a nearby ecosystem - stores, pharmacies, hospitals, accessibility to services. Groups that come with their friends, on the other hand, tend to choose locations that may not necessarily be nearby, but have a standout view - it has to be “Instagram worthy”. They tend to choose secluded properties so that they can play music without causing any disturbances to the neighbours around, pools are very popular among these groups too.”

During his conversation with Mumbai Live, he specifically spoke about how the company attracts Mumbaikars to their properties. With the pandemic and its repercussions, most people were confined in their homes whether they liked it or not. Also, because of the lockdown, people were forced into uninterrupted exposure to their families or flatmates and a staycation was a great way to escape from that. People were looking for a little getaway that was close and this timeout helped many to find some semblance of peace in an otherwise unprecedented and chaotic situation.

He goes on to explain that the initial lockdown months were hard. However, as things opened up, the business for Ekostay surged. Khatumdi says, "Clients that never travelled to their neighbourhood getaway localities, started exploring their backyards. We saw an average of 80 per cent occupancy after the first few months of the lockdown. With things opening now, it’s finally looking up.”

The company is banking on domestic travel and the concept of staycations to carry it through the current phase. Commenting on this strategy, Khatumdi explains, "We managed to expand a bit in Goa during this period, and once, things open up, we will be ready to service our clients in full swing. Other destinations we’re targeting are Ooty, Coorg, Allepey and Coonoor in the south, and Shimla, Manali, Mussoorie, Nainital, Rishikesh, Shimla and Kasol up north. We do believe there are some hidden gems around these areas that need to be found and can complement the Ekostay experience.”

Three years into this business now, Khatumdi's key learnings have been to ensure that the client experience is wholesome, accessible and easy. While things have started to get to normal, there are still restrictions in place for travel. Keeping this in mind, Khatumdi believes that the future projections of his business depend on possible high demand from the domestic tourism sector. “It’s hard to say what the future for international travel is going to be and whether people will be comfortable travelling overseas yet. But we do have big plans to expand and bring Ekostay to service more cities," he concludes. 

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