Sunday, September 3, 2017

In need of Shelter, Dial a Mumbaikar !

When two girls from Vashi, working for a multi-national company, stepped out of their home on the morning of 29th August to go to the western suburbs in Mumbai, they had no idea that they wouldn't be able to return home at night. It was a similar case with two boys from Pune and another from Mira Road who came to Mumbai for work. And it was none other than the reach of social media which brought these strangers together in their hour of crisis.

29th August proved to be another red-letter day for Mumbaikars, evoking memories of 26/7 when sudden floods brought the city to a halt.

It was a re-run of the calamity 12 years ago when Mumbaikars rose above their daily routines to extend a helping hand to those in distress. It wasn't only temples, churches and gurdwaras which threw open their doors to those seeking shelter, ordinary Mumbaikars circulated whatsapp messages to alert friends, and colleagues about relatives' homes where they could seek shelter or get help. Others ventured out to distribute vada Pav and water to those stranded. Some also helped by giving lifts in their vehicles as trains had stopped running. Service to humanity was clearly the need of the hour and the people of Mumbai proved that they did care.

While I was lucky enough to be at home when it poured across the city, I did whatever little I could to help those stranded. Having heard that people were stranded at many places, I posted a message on Facebook stating that anyone stranded in Goregaon West is welcome to stay at my Stay Insta serviced apartment in the area. And sure enough, we got five guests who came knocking at our serviced apartment.

Our caretakers, who are pro at providing hospitality, made sure that the guests had a warm dinner and some sound sleep. In the morning, the five grateful guests left after breakfast and some pleasant memories.

One of the guests, Ajay Sawardekar said, "Amazing! in a time of distress, people of this place get together. Love the spirit! Mumbai never dies."

And yes, while it warms our hearts when guests appreciate our hospitality, the biggest gift is when we are able to make a difference by helping those in need.

Monday, August 21, 2017

How I stumbled upon the serviced apartment biz

It seems like yesterday that I started my first serviced apartment in Mumbai. It soon grew into a known hospitality brand. Today, a decade later, I marvel at the ease with which I started the business.
So here's the story of how Stay Insta evolved. It was year 2007 and I had just got possession of a 1 BHK flat I had bought. I was toying with the idea of renting the flat out when a friend working for a BPO came with an offer. An employee of his company was coming to Mumbai for three months from Bangalore and needed a furnished place to stay. He did not want a hotel stay as he wouldn't feel comfortable. At the same time, all places to rent came with an 11-month lease and a hefty deposit.
My friend suggested I furnish the place and rent it to his company employee. He promised to pay a little more than the regular rental rate, but insisted that I had to take care of the place -- maintain cleanliness etc.
And Bingo! that's how I started my company.
Soon, I rented out several furnished properties, employed housekeepers, set up a website and I was in business.
And the business was so good that within a year, I quit my lucrative merchant navy job and settled in Mumbai for good. I have not regretted the decision one bit. 
Of course, it wasn't all a cakewalk. But yes, for me, Stay Insta is much more than a job. It's a passion that has not diminished one bit over the years... 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Comfortable Living Solutions

Recently, I came across a news report that a single woman was denied a hotel room in Hyderabad. I am appalled, to say the least, and to think that we are in the 21st century!

At Stay Insta, we make a conscious effort to ensure that all our guests are comfortable. And be it a single woman or a group of women, rest assured that our homestay facility is indeed a home away from home. Located in secure housing societies that are equipped with CCTV surveillance, safety is a given.

Our caretakers are available round the clock for any help that the guests may require.

Also, we are very particular about verifying the documents of our guests, so that there is no law and order issue.

Moreover, we often have guests who come for medical treatment in Mumbai and we make sure to provide any possible help they may require- be it home cooked meals or providing a sterile environment. But don't take my word for it. Check into a stayinsta apartment. You will cherish the experience!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spit And Polish

Hi there, 

It's been a rainy weekend and most people I know have been complaining of the muck outside and the flies and mosquitoes that the season invariably brings.

For those looking to stay at our StayInsta properties, I would like to assure them that cleanliness is our topmost priority. Come rain or shine, all our apartments are squeaky clean. Apart from the daily dusting and mopping, all our rooms are vacuum-cleaned once a week. 

Our kitchen and bathrooms are also deep-cleaned, so the question of cockroaches and other bugs doesn't arise. Here I must mention that my family members often say I suffer from cleanliness OCD. But given the fact that I successfully completed my intermediate Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points (HACCP) course, I don't think my zeal for cleanliness is unnatural. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness. 

What say ?  :-)

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Price Factor

Just a few months down the line and StayInsta is already going great guns! Our clients are a happy lot.

Here I must emphasize that we have already made a name for ourselves in the hospitality sector. While many of our competitors sell their rooms for peanuts, we at StayInsta believe that if you throw peanuts, you get monkeys! Get the drift?

In other words, for top-class hospitality, you gotta pay. Once you cut the room rates, the quality of hospitality dips. And it's because of our stellar service that our clients keep coming back to us.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Making of Stay Insta

Making of

When two world weary friends put their heads together, they are bound to come up with a winsome idea. So it was with Reju Nair and Craig Fernandes, the founders of StayInsta -- which connects travellers with accommodation across the world. Childhood friends who lived in the same neighbourhood and went to the same school, both Nair and Fernandes have travelled the world and know that finding a cheap accommodation can make or mar a trip.

Nair, who worked for a French oil company, was back home in Mumbai for good after being laid off along with scores of others due to the crash in crude prices. Fernandes, a former Merchant Navy officer who had been running a well-known serviced apartment chain, was bored with the hospitality industry and had recently closed down the business, wanting to try his hand at something new. A brainstorming session later, StayInsta was born.

For Nair, losing his plum overseas job turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Tired of living away from his family, Nair was looking for an opportunity to start something in India itself. The opportunity came when during a  casual chat with Fernandes, the two hit upon a winning idea, one that gave shape to StayInsta.

Both avid travellers, the two knew equally well what guests on a budget want as well as those looking for luxury. With Nair's managerial skills and Fernandes' forte in hospitality, the StayInsta concept is bound to flourish. And both are on the same page with regard to StayInsta's objective - it's not just about making money, but about creating an alternative source of income for people and for making accommodation safer and affordable, even for students and interns.