Ritesh Agarwal’s OYO Rooms have changed the way India’s legacy driven hospitality industry functions. This industry suffers from a major disconnect between demand and supply of quality living space, forcing travellers to compromise on decision variables of location, comfort and pricing. With an aim to provide affordable yet standardised accommodation, the company was the first-of-its-kind to cause disruption in the space.
Backed by a strong operation team, OYO is setting a strong example of how technology can enable an exceptional experience for customers and also can be profitable. On one hand, it has simplified booking, payment, check-in and check-out processes. On the other hand, it has helped many branded budget hotels to pick up pace and its growth potential. He was hardly 18-years-old when college drop-out Agarwal launched his first travel startup, Oravel Stays, an Indian clone of US-based online lodging service Airbnb, but it lacked a concrete perspective.
In 2011, the same year when Oravel was conceived, he applied for Peter Thiel fellowship program that gives $100,000 to an under-22, college drop-out entrepreneur every year who has the potential to make it big. Post this, he visited several hotels across the globe to find loopholes which needed immediate attention. Agarwal found that the sector lacked standardisation globally and rehashed his first venture to OYO rooms. Data Sciences and analytics is integral for every decision making strategy in OYO’s business, helping in identifying inherent nature of every guest who checks-in, and work towards making their experience much more personalised and seamless.
Also, on the supply product side, OYO offers an app to its hotel partners, enabling them to get a comprehensive view of their day to day operations including bookings, customer’s details, customer feedback scores, revenue and expense management tools etc. All the afore-mentioned innovation/ technology has been conceptualized and developed in-house.
Agarwal said,” 415 million Indians undertake a journey every year and none of them want to spend their days at a simple hotel with basic necessities.” Therefore, Oyo has launched its Oyo Townhouse, a friendly neighbourhood hotel targeted at millennials. Currently, there are four Townhouses across the country.
(This article was first published in the May issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)