At OYO, we have believed that our asset owners are more than just our business partners, helping us achieve our mission of transforming the global hospitality landscape. Over the last 7+ years, they have trusted us with their assets so that we can transform them into high-quality living spaces. This to me is the biggest testimony to OYO’s hospitality prowess in the Indian market.
Regardless of various media reports, OYO’s tens of thousands of asset partners like Mr. Vinod Shukla and Mr Muhamed Nansey continue to appreciate OYO for the significant value it adds and enable innovations like OYO Tariff Manager
As the Chief Supply Officer for OYO’s South Asia Franchisee Business, I believe that my role primarily involves creating an enabling environment for improved asset owner relations. Our team is focused on becoming better every day at serving and satisfying our existing network of 20K+ loyal partners. This is why one of my first initiatives since transitioning into this role 3 months back, was to conceptualize and launch OYO SAMBANDH, a first of its kind, large scale partner outreach and engagement program. Since then, we have been improving our ability to listen and learn from our partners, and the results are already starting to show.
There is no denying the fact that we have had concerns raised from our partners, and we are committed to ensuring concerns of each partner are resolved to the best of our abilities, on the other hand, we have thousands of partners who continue to take pride at being associated with OYO as a business partner, like the stories you’ll see today. These include stories of grit, determination and entrepreneurship demonstrated by Mr. Deepak Rana and many other partners.
Mr Nensey, owner & MD of Royal Palms Group of Hotels, Mumbai with a family expertise in hospitality of more than 5 decades and whose team is currently supporting BMC in the times of COVID impact as a frontliner, shares how he cherishes the flourishing partnership with OYO.
OYO Partners such as Mr. Gyan Parkash Tayal and Mr. Nagamal Reddy are providing free nights to medical personnel and other frontliners, and serving the stuck foreign tourists. To us, they are the real heroes fighting the battle against COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought with itself an unprecedented challenge for the entire hospitality industry and of course, thousands of our partners spread across hundreds of Indian cities are coping with its impact. As people-teams who are in it together, we share our fates and futures with our partners. For OYO to successfully navigate these extremely testing times, it is obvious that we have to enable our partners to emerge victorious from this crisis.
Read more about such COVID-19 initiatives here.
Asset owners such as Mr Harshal Sharma, Virendra Gabhane and Tushar Jadhav are our pride because they find innovative ways to continue operations, serve all kinds of guests who need our services during this time, and even serve the local communities in their own unique ways.
We are taking several measures to assist and support our asset partners across the country. Over 3000+ asset partners have received financial SOPs worth Rs. 185 Cr.+ in the form of short to mid term loans, OYO fee waivers, Wallet top-ups, and new deal benefits. Despite the significant economic pressures on the industry, OYO is committed to doing what it can to help its partners during these testing times.
Our partner owners have been one of our biggest inspiration to intensify our COVID fightback and find more and more ways to support our partners during this time – be it by providing them large scale institutional demand during COVID-19 through our strong private/public sector tie-ups, by offering them operational protocols for health and hygiene, by securing the necessary face masks, toiletries, and housekeeping consumables through our intensive supply chain network, by offering a whole host of commercial benefits incl. Waivers and moratorium in our fees, more frequent cash payouts, and exclusive short term loans at highly attractive terms, and lastly, by just being there for them and supporting them all the way.
We never shy away from helping our partners in whatever capacity we can. Take the instance of Mr Amol Dhir of OYO Dayal Lodge, Agra. We have helped him by providing business advance for his hotel to sustain and rebuild his operations in these difficult times.
Setting the record straight about our OTA partnerships being watertight with the highest standards of integrity and compliance. Here we share specific responses on some recent allegations with proofs and details rather than motivated “comments” from one of our industry peers.
In such times, certain inaccuracies in a media report does create some consternation and in our efforts to be fully transparent with all our partners, we are keen to set the record straight. A recent article alleges that some executives were faking the OTA listing NOCs for a set of hotels which are currently listed with one of our industry peers and indicated that ‘invalid’ no-objection certificates from about 70 hotels were submitted to an online travel agency (OTA) to change the ownership listing of the properties .
Allegation 1: OYO Executives have submitted invalid NOCs to an OTA for “changing the ownership” listing of properties
One of our esteemed portfolio owner, Mr Deepak Rana runs 20 properties in Noida with us. As an experienced, legacy hotelier in the industry, he like many others is fully aware of the necessity and protocols of such processes.
The process for validating past and current NOCs for any hotel owner who has been associated with OYO is both clear and straightforward. It is important to note that as per standard practice, unless a hotel owner completes the full and final settlement of dues to the company and the OTA for relevant costs accrued, change of ownership and NOC related formalities cannot receive an all-clear. It is also fairly common for a certain section of asset owners to change ownership of their property from one company to another, making the necessary internal and external systems of checks and balances indicated below, extremely important:
In our email communication with the OTA, we had only requested for pending payments for all properties and explicitly mentioned that the revised list for Change of Ownership (COO) will be sent post confirmation from owner and clearance of payments. By sticking to our principles of integrity and strong partnerships, we will refrain from sharing any internal communications for proof purposes here. However, there is a body of evidence that corresponds to the sanctity of our processes and claims.
*While OYO strongly believes in fulfillment of its obligations as per the agreements signed with our partners, it is imperative to share relevant contexts and extracts between OYO & respective partner here to keep the records straight for the readers to know the facts and put an end to mistrust being deliberately created to tarnish image of OYO that’s built with years of hard work of thousands of OYOpreneurs. Having said that, OYO is what it is today, with the support of its hotel partners and is fully committed to the long term associations and progress with them through thick and thin.
Allegation 2: OYO had used “fake documents” (NOCs) to try to wrongfully take control of OTA listings of 70 properties from their competition
- It is also important to appreciate that the budget hotel industry is a lessee-driven industry, wherein some hotel partners tend to shop around with different players to extract maximum possible benefits.
- In most cases such partners never serve notice period and don’t terminate their contracts mutually, which ends up resulting in a messy paper trail.
- It is therefore common to come across cases where two brand hotel players in the industry are simultaneously seeking the same OTA for a COO request for a particular hotel.
- These so-called 70 properties were not currently live with us but were our partners in the past and were yet to formally close the partnership. This is why they still featured in our list sent to the OTA for enquiring about the status of their outstanding dues.
- All of the properties were signatories to contracts with OYO starting from 2018-2020 with valid NOCs. However, these were not the most recent ones since they had independently pursued competition as well.
- At no point were we claiming that these hotels are still listed with us and that we would like to initiate a COO on them. So the entire narrative of us trying to claim these properties as listed with us and of furnishing fake NOCs has been fabricated with an intent of mischief.
- What is even more saddening is that all of us face the shortcomings of the current process / partner switching behaviour, and on many occasions, we come across cases where other brand players end up asking for pendencies of our properties but we have never accused them of any wrong doings, which is honestly the right thing to do.
To give you an example, four of the owners who find mention in the article, have been in regular touch with our local sales teams. One of the owners mentioned in the article for instance had a detailed chat with our representative and indicated that he had some other issues with OYO which were unrelated. He said he was contacted by a big publication and a certain hotel brand and when inquired, he simply mentioned not submitting any such NOC in the last 2 weeks. There was no talk or attempt to mislead over any invalid NOC from his end.
Allegation 3: OTA reached out to competition for details and complaint purposes as opposed to reaching out to OYO on the matter
The OTA as per standard practice cross checks the timeline and pendency of dues related data with respect to a hotel that wants a change of ownership to another brand and accordingly engages with OYO in this multi-step process. As a responsible corporate, we maintain privacy of our communication with all OTAs including the one mentioned in the publication. However, it is important to state that at no point, in the duration of the information exchange between the OTA and OYO, was there an iota of misgiving or mistrust. Our correspondence gives us confidence that OTAs have maintained due discretion and their simple statements shared with competition are being misinterpreted and provided a certain colour by competition in an effort to wrongly discredit the operational sanctity of both the OTA and our processes.
Allegation 4: Asset owner of a certain hotel indicated that he had not given any NOC and the NOC submitted by OYO is fake
When the local team contacted another owner whose hotel was referenced in the article, he stated that his only issue with OYO was over pending payments and that he is still keen on working with OYO if his disputed amount is amicably settled. Owing to a good rapport with the team, he also shared that he had only denied submitting any NOC recently. At the same time, he was never asked if there was any NOC submitted previously or the time-period being referenced.
Allegation 5: Fraud at OYO’s part, directed at taking advantage of relative inactivity of hotel owners due to COVID, so as to acquire more partner assets in their network
As I shared at the beginning of my note, our first and only priority during this tough time is to stand shoulder to shoulder with our ~20K loyal partners, as they navigate this unprecedented tough time; I have already shared many examples of how we are doing that. Therefore the question of using this time to acquire a few more of our own old partners just does not arise, and frankly a very unproductive use of our time and resources,
In fact, we continue to uphold our partnership policy which deems the mentioned (or any other) partner with a business outstanding against us as unfit to join us back. At a time when our partners see even more value in associating with a brand like OYO, it will be downright silly for us to pander to any ask that is deviant from our policy.
As a law-abiding corporate citizen, we are keen to pursue every method necessary to ensure that the brand is not tarnished using limited and intentionally misleading information by competitors wanting to spread false information.
I believe it is best that we choose to stick to what is fair and honest, and focus our energies in doing what is best for our partners and customers. To our long-standing partners and well-wishers, I would say, thank you for your unwavering belief and trust in OYO, which only reminds us of our purpose and focus.