There may be several reasons which can be cited for us being one of the world’s leading hotel chains but one of the most important reasons that has contributed immensely to our growth journey is our obsession with our customers. Customer centricity has always been the guiding light for us and it takes precedence more so than ever in these times marked with uncertainty and volatility.
Here, we would like to throw some light on the preparedness that went into ensuring our customers were offered the best possible service, even during trying times like COVID.
The kind of demand that we received for accommodation during the pandemic can be clubbed into:
1) Demand for Quarantine Centres – When the whole country was grappling with the increase of Covid-19 cases & it was becoming difficult to manage suspected patients within hospital dorms, a formidable name in the healthcare industry, Apollo Hospitals approached us with a prospective partnership for quarantine centres in six cities. Now, managing a quarantine facility had never been a part of our core competence and we could foresee several challenges in the fruition of this partnership. Challenges such as :
- Alignment with our franchise partners on keeping COVID suspects within their properties
- Ensuring the highest standards of health and hygiene while maintaining social distance for the safety and wellness of our guests and employees within the property
- Availability of safety gears such as PPE kits, masks, hand sanitizers, etc. at all the designated properties within 1 or 2 days
As tough as these challenges were, we were eager to take these on and provide viable solutions. In just a few hours, we managed to close all the backend work, get our properties ready and signed the contract with Apollo for their requirements in the six cities starting with Bangalore & Hyderabad.
How did we solve it?
We took into account the confidence of our network partners and aligned not only our self-owned business portfolio but also our franchise supply.
Minimal Touch SOP – Understanding that the need of the hour was hygiene and sanitisation, we created the Minimal Touch SOP. This SOP lists down a 10-point cleaning checklist, do’s and don’ts for staff and guests, handling of suspected COVID cases, guidelines for social distancing at various guest touchpoints and more.
The expanse of our network and the affordability of the brand helped in ensuring that our guests received the best of both the worlds.
After Apollo, we partnered with various hospitals Pan-India to provide them with accommodation for COVID suspected patients, some of the prominent ones being Sir Gangaram, Tata Memorial Hospital, Jaslok, Safdarjung, Fortis, etc.
2) Demand for Accommodation of Health Care Professionals – We were able to help the COVID Warriors working on the frontlines in their time of need. Our hotels were open to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) across the country. Some of the most notable hospitals had their staff staying at our sanitised properties, namely RML Hospital, Lady Hardinge, Apollo Indraprastha, SL Raheja, Asian Heart Institute, Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, etc.
Our adrenaline rush came in the form of our guests’ appreciation and it became all the more special when it came from our national heroes during this time, our HCPs.
#FightCovidWithOYO – We also launched the Donate a Night campaign. Through this initiative, we encouraged everyone to contribute by donating a sanitized and safe room to our medical professionals, government workers and migrant workers who are still out there fighting the battle against COVID-19.
As part of this initiative, Dr Madhav and his pet Lucy were also provided with a free stay in one of our properties. He was harassed by his housing society in Dwarka, New Delhi for being around COVID-19 patients.
3) Demand from Embassies for People left stranded within the city/ at airports
We also received a requirement from various State Ministries of Tourism and Embassies for accommodation for tourists left stranded. We were able to cater to the accommodation requirements of 15 embassies and helped stranded tourists from Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and the US in availing rooms. A swift response team was set-up to establish contact with various embassies to secure shelter for all travellers while ensuring the highest standards of safety & hygiene at our hotels.
4) Demand for the accommodation of expatriates as part of Vande Bharat Mission
The Indian government undertook one of its biggest repatriation operations to bring back expatriates stranded on foreign soil. We have provided close to 1000+ rooms till date to house our fellow Indians for the mandated 14-day quarantine period. Not only this, but we also provided accommodation to interstate travellers returning home via special trains arranged by the government in early May.
5) Demand from Companies opening-up during/post lockdown
Amid stringent guidelines issued by the MHA for restarting factories/plants/offices during the lockdown, we endeavoured to provide sanitised accommodation options to employees closer to the working units/office premise. This helped business continuity requirements from our clients in manufacturing, pharma, construction, logistics, FMCG, food processing, oil & gas, BFSI industry, etc. Some of the clients we were able to provide stay solutions unique to their requirements include Omega Healthcare, Ericsson, HCL, Petrofac, L&T Infra, etc.
In all of the above, the client’s requirements were based on various factors – in some cases, it was pricing, while in other it was the location. We had to customise the product for nearly all the different brackets of demand and we were only able to do so because we believe that ‘our guests are at the heart of everything we do at OYO’.
We are proud to have served our nation in these testing times and will continue to do so; hopefully, we as a nation will emerge stronger after this pandemic ends.