About SaffronStays

Founded in 2014, SaffronStays is a micro-hospitality collective that operates a network of over 280 private leisure homes. Each property is carefully selected and curated to provide an enhanced holiday experience. Nestled in serene and untouched locations, these luxurious homes offer the warmth and comfort of a home while upholding the high standards of a hotel.

With caretaking staff managing each home, local cooks dishing out mouth-watering meals, and concierge services throughout their stay, guests can take every holiday with ease. With SaffronStays, vacations will always be enriching experiences that bring loved ones together and fill one's soul with happiness!

This case study explores how SaffronStays partnered with ImageKit to scale media delivery, enhance user experience, and drive operational efficiency.


The travel and hospitality sector suffered due to COVID-19, leading to closures and a halt in travel.

SaffronStays was no exception but experienced a positive shift as travel restrictions eased. People sought luxurious and peaceful accommodations away from crowds, making SaffronStays a top choice for travelers.

This resulted in significant growth, with more properties, guests, and website visitors. To sustain this growth, SaffronStays has prioritized technology enhancements and delivering cost-effective visual experiences to maintain profitability.

SaffronStays was founded with an advanced tech stack that has steadily evolved to continue using the most modern technologies. Their ethos is to build tools of long-term value in-house as much as possible, procuring from external providers only when absolutely necessary and there is demonstrated product excellence from external providers.

Visual Media’s Importance in Travel and for SaffronStays

Visual media, including images and videos, is essential in the travel and hospitality industry. While in other industries, visual media helps sell another product, in travel, visual media is the product. In other words, nobody ever books a stay on any travel platform or hotel without looking at the images and videos of the property.

For SaffronStays, providing top-notch visual experiences at a manageable cost and exploring new possibilities for using visual content are both business priorities.

Challenges faced by SaffronStays

Before adopting ImageKit, SaffronStays relied on a third-party SaaS solution for media delivery on their website. However, as the business expanded, they encountered several challenges with their existing provider:

  1. Unfavorable Billing and constraints on using advanced features: The rolling-credit billing model made it hard for SaffronStays to effectively manage bandwidth usage and asset storage. Unexpected traffic surges could lead to cost overruns. Secondly, all advanced features were also billed based on usage from the same rolling credit pool as bandwidth and storage. To ensure enough credits to cover bandwidth spikes, SaffronStays had little freedom to experiment with advanced features without impacting costs.
  2. Price Increases: Large, repeated price increases were also implemented, which resulted in higher base costs for SaffronStays, to the point where media delivery and CDN alone was a significant cost item on the business P&L. SaffronStays couldn't afford to deliver low-quality visuals, as this directly impacted sales. Despite efforts to reduce costs through experiments, they struggled to keep up with rising traffic demands.

The team began exploring alternative solutions. However, they faced a dilemma: the current solution was deeply integrated into their tech stack, and they wanted to avoid a complex and time-consuming migration.

ImageKit’s solution

SaffronStays initially experimented with building an in-house solution to serve images on their website. While this approach successfully delivered a single image, they realized it wouldn't scale effectively for their entire media library of images and videos. Building an in-house product was especially complex for handling the streaming of optimized images and videos at scale.

Consequently, they began searching for a new solution partner. SaffronStays had previously interacted with ImageKit and renewed the conversation on the principle that the migration could be done seamlessly in a matter of days.

What the ImageKit Product Offered:

  1. Effortless Migration & Ability to connect multiple asset storages: SaffronStays worked with ImageKit's own inbuilt storage and multiple asset storages simultaneously, including the backup storage of their existing delivery provider. ImageKit also enabled an “origin fetch order” so that if the image or video had not yet been stored with ImageKit, it would fetch the asset from the external storage. Over time, the most heavily used assets would be automatically cached with ImageKit, and dependency on legacy media delivery solution and its inbuilt storage was removed. As a result, ImageKit was able to start delivering media immediately, running in parallel with the existing solution, which could then be phased out over time. This led to a seamless switchover from the existing provider, with very little work needed from SaffronStays and almost no asset migration.
  2. Integrated Storage with Digital Asset Management: Besides leveraging existing external asset repositories, SaffronStays wanted to use ImageKit’s inbuilt Digital Asset Management product for critical new assets. SaffronStays' asset library with ImageKit has rapidly grown to tens of thousands of files in size and continues to grow rapidly. Keeping track and managing so many files has not been a challenge for SaffronStays as they can leverage the complete Digital Asset Management (DAM) features of ImageKit - powerful sharing and team-based access control, consolidated collaboration in a single platform, and media delivery directly from the storage without needing to re-upload elsewhere.
  3. Video Optimization and Streaming: SaffronStays now had the freedom to experiment, as ImageKit did not charge additionally for most transformations, including advanced capabilities. SaffronStays has since launched videos on its website. ImageKit offers a single unified API for images and video, including the ability to deliver Adaptive Bitrate Streaming in real-time. This made it possible for SaffronStays to use innovative video formats such as “Instagram Style” Stories, which were earlier considered too complex and expensive to attempt.
  4. Enhanced Visual Experience: With access to advanced transformations for Images, building and delivering video assets from scratch with out-of-the-box HLS and DASH streaming support, and crucially, automated compression and format selection for all assets, SaffronStays has been able to substantially improve the visual experience for their customers. As a travel company, the quality of their delivered assets and the richness of the overall experience directly impacts revenue, as more people are convinced that their top-tier properties are worth a stay.
  5. Better Pricing Structure: ImageKit would allow SaffronStays to push the limit of visual experience faster and without cost impact, as nearly advanced features and media transformations did not come with any additional cost. Secondly, ImageKit charges its customers separately for overages (i.e., bandwidth and storage), so there is visibility and the ability to plan for traffic surges independent of experience experimentations.
Real-time optimized assets by ImageKit
Real-time optimized assets by ImageKit

Implementation and results

“A beautiful thing ImageKit did was crack the code to deliver a seamless migration. Migrating from the previous third party to ImageKit was merely a day's process. ImageKit helped us migrate without having to move our storage or shut down the old CDN.”

- Sarang Purandare, VP - Tech, Product and Growth, SaffronStays

Long-term integrations can accumulate years of development and become hard to replace. ImageKit’s migration-friendly tech stack allowed SaffronStays to switch traffic over with a quick modification to their codebase.

SaffronStays piloted ImageKit by moving 90% of their daily traffic to ImageKit, which was successful. The primary KPI for the pilot was to bring costs back into control.

Following the successful pilot phase, SaffronStays transitioned all media delivery for its business verticals to ImageKit, yielding significant benefits:

  • 🏦 Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings: ImageKit played a pivotal role in SaffronStays' journey to profitability in FY 2023-2024. Media delivery was a substantial cost center for SaffronStays, which was brought into control with ImageKit. The more rationalized media delivery costs allowed SaffronStays to also comfortably scale their revenue while maintaining profitability.
  • 📊 Enhanced Analytics and Monitoring: ImageKit's comprehensive analytics and optimization reports empower SaffronStays to identify and rectify media optimization issues and 404 errors swiftly, leading to cost savings and positive revenue impact.
  • 💪🏻 Real-Time Media Transformations: SaffronStays leverages ImageKit's URL-based parameters to resize, crop, and adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation of media in real-time, enhancing team efficiency.
  • 📽️ Innovative Experimentation: To keep pace with increasing traffic, SaffronStays continuously experiments with new media formats to engage and convert visitors. For instance, they recently launched a story feature akin to Instagram for showcasing property videos. ImageKit not only does not charge for most transformations, and functional utilizations such as bandwidth and storage are billed separately. This allowed SaffronStays to experiment with transformations and new media experiences for their users without impacting any other business area.
Stories on SaffronStays

Through its partnership with ImageKit, SaffronStays overcame media delivery challenges and significantly enhanced user experience, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. This successful collaboration underscores the importance of choosing the right technology partner to drive business growth and innovation in a dynamic market landscape.