The practice of hotels charging for the whole day is beginning to change with some hospitality chains now offering stays for shorter durations at a fraction of the per-day cost.

The move primarily benefits pilgrims and other travellers who break their journey for a few hours en route to their destination. For instance, booking a hotel through Frotels.com for a two-hour package at Hotel Imperial Palace at Andheri in Mumbai works out to be Rs 630, as opposed to Rs 2,637 per room night.

Budget accommodations and branded hotels are foraying into the shorter stay segment for their properties near airports, railway stations or in pilgrim towns.

Hotel chain Lemon Tree started the initiative early this year. “We decided to adopt this strategy because in most of our business hotels, 60% to 70% of departures happen early morning and likewise arrivals happen in the evening,” said Devinder Kumar, general manager, Revenue Management and eCommerce, Lemon Tree.

Catering exclusively to shorter stays, FreshUp, a hospitality startup, is setting up an accommodation in Tirupathi with hourly rates. “We have bunker beds, meeting rooms and relaxation lounges suited for guests who would just like to freshen up for a couple of hours or more. We have 2 or 3 hour packages per person for about Rs 299,” said Vinil Reddy, founder, FreshUp. The company has set up a centre in Hyderabad and is looking to start facilities in Bengaluru, Chennai and Rameshwaram.

Bookings mostly happen through websites such as 6-hourly, Frotels, Mistay, 9to5.com, which serve as aggregators of the branded hotels and budget accommodations offering booking by the hour.

“There are vacant rooms available during the day hours (10 am - 2 pm) which we strategically vend through our website for better inventory management,” said Kumar of Lemontree. The company has witnessed a 100% increase in the number of bookings in the last three months since it have started offering this option.

Travel aggregators see the trend picking up in the coming months.

It all started with Oyo Rooms accepting check-ins at 6 am and now hotels are warming up to the concept of using their inventory judiciously. With this option, budget hotels can use the same inventory twice over.

“It works out economical for the customer as well as they would otherwise end up paying for the whole day or stay at an airport lounge or waiting rooms of the railway stations,” said Akshay Chhugani, head of product marketing with Ixigo, a travel and hospitality aggregator.