Hospitality chain Zostel may have been in the news for all the wrong reasons after its deal with hospitality unicorn Oyo fell apart, following an acquisition controversy. Over a period, six out of seven Zostel co-founders exited the company and started their own entrepreneurial or managerial journeys with different entities. But Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, Co-Founder and CEO, Zostel, has stayed on.
The CEO is now reviving the brand single-handedly and is foraying into the online travel agency (OTA) space. "A niche OTA where others are not there," he says.
“Our niche is curated properties, which fall under similar experience as of Zostel,” Dharamveer explains. He also reveals that Zostel is pivoting to an OTA model with ‘Trusted by Zostel’ feature, wherein it will list backpacker hostel-like properties and experiences owned by others on the platform.
With properties in 50 cities across India at present, he reveals the startup is tapping international partners in the South East Asia (SEA) region, and will soon have partners in at least 10 cities outside India in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and others.
Dharamveer started reviving Zostel a year ago and launched an entrepreneur program. In the initial days, he says, Zostel had a lot of its own leased properties that it used to run. But over the last couple of years, the company has transformed.
Speaking about the entrepreneurship program, he says:
“Now we have one property that we run by ourselves, and close to 50 properties are run by several other business partners."
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