Vinayak and Shilpa Mahtani know business better than most. This power couple grew a two-man hospitality business into a 70 strong venture in a remarkably short period. They talk to ASPIRE about their holiday home venture, and its journey
Both Vinayak and Shilpa have had different journeys through the uncertain lanes of self-started business, but it has brought them to the same wonderful place. Today, a powerhouse couple, Vinayak and Shilpa Mahtani, are forces to be reckoned with in business.
Vinayak, a serial entrepreneur, ran a retail footwear chain with 35 stores in India before moving to Dubai nine years ago. Additionally, he is the founder and Chief Executive of Unique Precise International, a one-stop solution company for the Hospitality Industry based in Jumeirah and with offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, India, the UK, USA, and South Africa.
Shilpa Mehtani was also blessed with the business gene. Born and raised in a business family in Mumbai, she wasn’t one to allow marriage and motherhood put the brakes on her pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration. Soon after, she joined her husband in his footwear company.
After the success of Unique Precise, Vinayak set up the holiday homes management company bnbme in 2018, managing properties on behalf of owners and marketing them on short-term rental websites. What started as a humble effort is now approaching its first-ever million-dollar short-term rental deal while negotiating properties worth over 100 million AED.
Together, Vinayak and Shilpa manage close to 150 luxurious holiday homes in Dubai and are looking to expand into other regions. Aiming to provide guests with the luxurious touch of a hotel with the comfort of a home, bnbme has earned them a reputation for creating WOW experiences for their worldwide guests.
About bnbme and the business bug
‘Bnbme – Holiday Homes by Hoteliers’ is a luxury holiday home management company that works with property owners in managing their apartments and villas for short-term rentals in some of Dubai’s swankiest, most in-demand locales.
He explains the business process. “We market the apartment on various platforms, managing the guest journey from beginning to end. The property is maintained to the best possible standards, resulting in higher rental returns to an owner. Our hospitality background allows us to deliver high standards in terms of sleep experience, amenities, and customer service. We manage properties all over the UAE and have recently expanded our operations in India too.”
When quizzed on how bnbme stands apart from the competition, they respond, “Very often, we see our competition executing the same marketing strategy that we did a few weeks prior, or speaking the same language we spoke several weeks back- which is great because by then, we have already moved on to the next phase. So if I must put it down to what really makes us different, it has to be our speed and agility in execution.”
The evolving nature of hospitality
“The guest is ever-changing, and this calls for the hospitality industry also to evolve. The fact that we can call ourselves as part of the hospitality industry is an evolution, for it’s no longer about a great building with 500 rooms and mass service. Instead, it’s about bespoke living spaces and creating new experiences.”
UAE, of course, is seeing a rise in the holiday homes business and this business duo is visibly excited at the prospects. “The market for short-term rentals or holiday homes in UAE is very much on the rise. The country is growing as a tourist destination, roping in a growing percentage of tourists each year. With the recent success of the Expo, coupled with upcoming events like the Football World Cup, Dubai has positioned itself on the global map for tourism. As a result, many homeowners and investors are converting their properties today into vacation homes, with real estate still being more affordable when compared to other cities worldwide.
The average global traveler is also looking for ‘home-away-from-home’ experiences coupled with great service, making such holiday homes the obvious choice. The pandemic created a considerable shift in traditional travel and been a boom to local tourism and staycation travel.”
Having started off a small enterprise with the husband and wife working out of their garage, today it is a soaring enterprise with 70 handpicked employees. “Once we identified our core values, we have since then stuck to them. Every person getting onboarded to our team today is first analyzed on their core values and then interviewed for their capabilities. Customers (Property Owners) are aligned with our core values, and so are the guests. This is the fabric that holds us together.”
In addition to holiday home management, the couple also run two other divisions – glamperbybnbme, which provides glamping experiences to guests across the Emirate, and Supper Clubs by bnbme offering amazing dining experiences to guests in different properties across the region.
“Shilpa and I are both strong believers in destiny, so often if she’s stressed, I say, no matter what phase we’re in, good or bad, it has to pass. So, we are always prepared and take whatever comes gracefully in our stride. We are also aligned in giving back to the community and work in that endeavor.”
The aura of business reigns supreme over their domestic life too, as Vinayak chuckles that their pillow talk always turns towards business. “Our 17-year-old son is a young entrepreneur, having started his own business and is making profits. My 13-year-old daughter too, has started earning her extra pocket money through her small online business.”
When asked about their goals, they respond, “We would like to see bnbme listed on the stock market with over 1,000 properties and be the benchmark for vacation rentals in India and the Middle East.” One can confidently say that with the way they’re crossing one milestone after another, this goal is inevitable.