“What is your most awkward moment when you are travelling,” asks Vinil Reddy, Chief Executive Officer, FreshUp.
Seeing my confused expression, he continues, for most it is finding clean restroom, when they have a couple of hours to kill, without having to buy a cup of coffee in a restaurant.
Reddy says most people, including him, have faced this problem when travelling alone or with family. “It has always been on my mind and finally led to FreshUp,” he says.Poshtel
FreshUp is a hospitality venture that offers its consumers a range of services. Priya Goutham, Chief Marketing Officer, says, “We call them Poshtels.”
Poshtel is similar to a hostel but in a posh environment with facilities including beds, Wi-Fi, recliners, bath and pantry service at an affordable price targeting business and religious travellers. There are four different packages available with prices ranging from ₹249 to ₹1,200.
Why would one need a Poshtel when you have budget hotels available? Reddy says you will have to pay an average ₹2,500 for a hotel room. But through this model the maximum a person shells out is ₹1,200. “This is the kind of offering price-conscious consumers are looking for right now,” adds Reddy.
It is for the same reason why the concept opens up new avenues though the model is fairly new, according to Reddy. He feels the potential is huge as customers are becoming more price-conscious and are constantly looking for options that will give them value for money.Two models
FreshUp has two facilities operating in Hyderabad and Tirupati. However, the models are different.
While Hyderabad is a business centre, Tirupati caters to pilgrims, whose needs are different from that of business people.
Business people more often than not are individuals looking for a place to freshen up and a safe space for their belongings before rushing off to meetings. That is why business centres of FreshUp will not have individual rooms. But Tirupati is different since the customer base is mostly families that need rooms to freshen up before they leave for the temple at Tirumala. The centres near religious places will have more individual rooms, adds Priya.
She said the company is in talks with bus aggregators to popularise FreshUp among devotees visiting Tirupati by offering a travel package.
Reddy agrees that the model is yet to take off. So far the Hyderabad facility has seen on average 15 travellers and five in Tirupati. “It will be only a matter of time before the model catches up. We want to be the first in the market,” he adds.Expansion plan
The start-up is looking to expand in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Shirdi, Kochi, Vijayawada and Bengaluru in 12-15 months. While Madurai and Shirdi are targeted at pilgrims, the rest will be business centres. At each centre a property will be renovated at about ₹80 lakh. Reddy said the company will use seed funding for this expansion but declined to disclose the amount. The company is also looking at a franchise model to expand in Visakhapatnam and Hampi.
Technological innovation is also on the anvil. Goutham said they offer the entire package right now, the future will be ‘pay per use’ model, where customers will pay only for services they use. Priya said, “We will have a base fare and each service will have a charge.” The technology is being developed and will be implemented across its centres once the customer base becomes sizeable.