(Photo by Wikimedia Commons user tshrinivasan, used under a Creative Commons license)
A hotel may say there’s no vacancy, but Kash Rehman is looking to help users get a booking anyway.
His recently-launched startup RoomShare is designed to allow users to find a shared room in a hotel that may be otherwise full.
The marketplace lets people who have booked rooms at a hotel offer up a spot to share, and helps potential guests match up. Rehman sees it as being particularly available around big events, such as large concerts or sporting events where hotel rooms in an area are booked up.
The web and mobile app is designed to help “hosts” and “guests” find the right match with a mix of user preferences and reviews, Rehman said. He added that the system also helps ensure safety.
In some cases, the guests may have the option of getting a room to themselves. Rehman has found that even when hotels say they are booked up, there may actually be openings. Guests may cancel, or they may want to offer up a room that they already booked. The service offers a way for those guests to put the room back on offer, and RoomShare would take care of changing the reservation.
Rehman also sees an opportunity to help people who are looking to use their rewards points.
“We can help people now use those points to book a hotel room around a sold out event and put it on RoomShare,” Rehman said. “Now they can earn cash for it.”
For the “hosts,” he’s worked to make the system easy to use.
“It literally takes three clicks for a host to create a listing on Roomshare,” he said. “We do not ask them to upload [hotel room] pictures or tell us what amenities are in the room…We even let them choose what room they’re staying in. Once they choose the hotel and room, we autopopulate everything for them,” he said.
The startup makes money through commission on a booking from the host, and also charges a $2.50 service fee from the guest.
Given the sharing and overnight booking components, comparisons to Airbnb may seem likely, and Rehman is ready for those. He said there’s a difference in staying in a hotel rather than a home.
Rehman said he came up with the idea when traveling for his previous startup Foodem and a consulting job in the food industry he had subsequently. He’s working with a Chief Marketing Officer and India-based dev team, and is based out of his Baltimore-area home.
The app launched in early October. It’s available for the Baltimore area, and Rehman said he is starting out by targeting big events in specific markets. The approach allows him to keep costs low on entering new markets.
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