This year has seen Zeni burst onto the travel tech start up scene, where they are quickly carving out a niche for themselves after successfully capturing the UK summer holiday/city break, budget accommodation market with affordability and community being at the very core of the business. (Zeni currently operate during the university summer break only).
In their first season of official operation, Zeni has sold over 80,000 room nights so far this summer and are on track for 100,000 by early September when they will hand their sites back to the student operators.
These booking figures demonstrate considerable demand for their novel summer season product and says as much about the staycation boom as it does about their proposition. Although guests traditionally booked this type of accommodation through Airbnb, Booking.com and various other booking engines, the company has achieved 15% direct bookings through its own platform.
With an average nightly rate per room of £28 (2021) and offering en-suite rooms/studio apartments through to 8 bed apartments for larger groups, Zeni’s vision is clear: to be the affordable summer holiday accommodation provider of choice across the UK. Zeni fuses the self-catered accommodation experience offered at holiday parks such as Butlins and Centre Parcs with the urban locations offered by Premier Inn and Travelodge, while removing the uncertainty presented by unbranded short-term rentals offered via Airbnb and Booking.com.
The company take over high-end PBSA buildings over the summer and offer them to tourists. Co-founders Raj Patel (CEO) and Elena Lopez (Chief Community Officer) have grown their portfolio (My Property Host) from one property in London with 20 rooms to 19 properties (UK and EU) with over 2,500 rooms in just two years; driving average revenue growth of 1,000% per annum.
NOT JUST A VALUE PROPOSITION
Zeni, however, is not just about good value, high-quality, well-located rooms; it’s about bringing people together – be that big families in Zeni’s 8 bed apartments or solo travellers brought together through in house events. On community Lopez comments “Having travelled alone for business a lot previously, I’m very aware of how lonely it can be. Our goal is simple – to provide guests their own private space but also a welcoming environment where they can meet fellow travellers.”
Zeni pride themselves on a uniformity and standardisation of quality across their sites, both in room offering and service provided – double beds (small), en-suites, cleanliness and dedicated site staff are all standard. They also offer large and sociable spaces for groups and families and a hostel style sense of community where people can meet in an informal, relaxed but safe environment, all at an affordable price.
Powered by tech and with a proven expansion playbook, further rapid growth is on the cards “we’re forecasting 10,000 rooms across most major UK cities and staycation destinations next summer” says Patel. As well as solidifying their UK footprint, the founders have set their sights further afield to Europe and in time, globally. With Dublin already on the books, Zeni’s European footprint is set to expand to include Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands in time for summer 2022. “Our aim is to offer 60,000 rooms across the UK, Europe, Australia and USA within 5 years.”
A 4* offering is also in the works and due to launch early 2022. Patel confirms that the new brand is already being trialled with over 100 properties being operated across London, York, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Community will again be at its heart.