StayUncle is a couple-friendly hotel aggregator currently operating across 60+ cities in India and was one of the key clients at my marketing and development agency, DigitalFry. They were the first ones to launch couple friendly hotel stays in India soon followed by giants like Oyo and MMT. While working with StayUncle, we use to get a lot of requests from customers asking if we also provided girls for single men and then the idea clicked.
We created a fake website with listings across categories like Kinky Nepali to Snowy Ukrainian and named it StayLaid, a portal where you could book girls for one-night stands ensuring full privacy and safety. From the starting only, we knew this was going to get viral.
The website asked for email addresses of people who were interested in such a service and further instructions were to be sent to them via email. The day we launched the portal, we ran an SMS campaign with over 15% CTR. With almost no marketing, the website got 1000 registrations on the first day of its launch.
The second day was the revelation day. We sent out an email to those registered on the platform that this was a fake website for social awareness against the prevalent sex trafficking in India. The girls who are the victims of sex trafficking in India are mostly underaged and are forced into this business by pimps and a network of traffickers.
The website trended pan-India on Twitter for ~6 hrs with #StayUncleAgainstTrafficking and the website traffic went nuts. We soon removed the email address field and replaced it with the banner informing people of the true motive of the campaign and linking it to StayUncle’s website. The website drew international and domestic coverage from renowned publications including Asian Age, TechPanda, IndiaTimes, and NDTV.
Over the following 4 months, the website resulted in over 350K organic traffic to the website and coverages in over 20+ media publications.
We at Digitalfry were handling the entire marketing for StayUncle, primarily including SEO and PPC. The on-page and off-page SEO resulted in a DA increase from 20 to 41 in a span of 3 months. We also introduced refer and earn and discounting schemes and pricing control on the product side to decrease the CAC by ~10%.
Product growth at StayUncle
StayUncle had outsourced the product development to us which included, revamping the UX-UI of the website, introducing new features like 3 hr Stay Slots, SuperFast Check-in, StayUncle Love kit launch, and reporting dashboard.
In addition to this they also wanted to revamp the React Native application to imitate the website functionality and performance. We settled on a wireframed version of the website including the post-booking flow and the important metrics to be included in the admin dashboard to give the admins important details like which were the top cities in terms of bookings and which hotels attracted the most amount of bookings (which would help StayUncle negotiate the pricing with those hotels).
Additionally, we build a flexible pricing and commission model which would help the stakeholders make changes to the commission on the stays and fluctuate prices with respect to seasons or any other factor. The website needed an aesthetic revamp to convey a feeling of love and intimacy.
Thus we settled on a shade of pink (#eb5173) for the website but not to go overboard with pink, thus balanced it out with whites.
Becoming LGBTQ+ friendly
StayUncle recently launched the LGBTQ+ friendly hotels after section 377 got decriminalized and also had tie-ups with some hotels to provide a complimentary love kit along with the stay. Since these were important considerations for the customer base, we placed icons indicative of the same on the listing pages and provided filters to filter hotels giving out the love kits and being LGBTQ+ friendly.
We even changed the banner on the home page to an LGBTQ+ couple to signify our support for the decriminalization of section 377. We soon started witnessing a lot of bookings from the LGBTQ community and we knew people loved our initiative. We even made it to the news for our LGBTQ+ friendly ad.
To further optimize the conversion flow, we implemented a new listing algorithm on the listing page to incorporate factors like sentiments of the reviews, price of the hotel, number of reviews, etc to generate the best possible listing order.
Since there is too much stigma attached with couples booking hotels in India, StayUncle was able to utilize it well to come up as a brand that couples can trust. We even had customers who were booking StayUncle since they dated someone for the first time and never considered any competitor brand despite the heavy discount other brands offer.
With a playful tone, loyal customer base and openness to new ideas, StayUncle was definitely one of the interesting projects I have worked on.
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