Flexibility Is The Future: Securing Hospitality Industry From COVID-19

Flexibility Is The Future: Securing Hospitality Industry From COVID-19

‘Atithi devo bhava’

This guiding principle has shaped OYO’s DNA since 2013. 

We have always strived to go above and beyond for our customers and deliver delight with the best possible experience. 7 years on, OYO continues to be the customer’s foremost choice to find their perfect space.

The OYO fraternity has always stayed true to our ‘consumer-first’ philosophy, even during these trying times. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the hotel industry, and OYO has not been immune to those changes. 

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way consumers look at their travel plans. With uncertainties over when to travel? where to travel? how long to travel? when is the right time to make a booking? etc, looming large, making flexible travel plans has become the need of the hour.

Even the criteria for choosing a particular hotel is changing rapidly with hygiene becoming paramount.

At OYO, we have been observing these trends closely and have addressed them by shaping our approach towards changing demand patterns.


OYO’s preparedness before the lockdown

When the global news started reporting about a possible pandemic, the hospitality industry was waiting in anticipation of a lockdown or similar measures. 

Guidelines from the honourable Ministry of home affairs allowed only certain use cases – tourists or persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew or for quarantine purposes. With this, revenue traction started coming only from guests who were already staying at OYO or extending their stay. Guests were choosing to either self-quarantine or wait for the lockdown to open so they could head back home. Over 70% of the bookings were driven via an extension.

We carefully monitored the consumer sentiment and quickly adapted our offerings to strengthen OYO’s value propositions. A series of business sustenance initiatives were rolled out to support customers in such times;  

  1. Before the lockdown started, we made our cancellation policy super-flexible. The new, best-in-class policy states that consumers can cancel for free till the time of check-in (9 am on D -Day). This helped millions of travellers make plans without a worry.
  2. We initiated pro-active calls to guests who were already staying with us to help them extend their stay without any hassle. A dedicated team was set up to ensure that our customer delight remains optimum even during these times. 

Below is a testimonial from one such guest whom we were able to help out during lockdown.


Being responsible corporate citizens

During the lockdown, to provide comfortable and safe stays for people who were away from their home or stranded, we partnered with our asset owners to offer hotels starting at a flat price of INR 699/- and even offered 50% discounts on select properties. This helped our guests fulfil essential travels and plan better without hurting their pockets while delivering higher value in return.

Hotel owners have been more than happy to welcome guests and give service to people in need.


Adapting the offering to current needs

Travel industry bore the hardest blow from the pandemic. The path to recovery was to study the sentiment of people stuck at home and reimagine how we can best fulfil their demands and drive maximum value from future travels. Here are some of the new products we rolled out to make it happen-

  1. OYO WOWCHER – a forward-looking, flexible option with 100% redeemable value for any future plan. The product currently offers twice the value of what you pay (benefits worth INR 1000 by paying NR 500), with full flexibility on travel plans. No constraints on a particular date, a hotel or even a location! From small business enterprises who have to travel on short notices to vacation lovers who are going in for weekend travels, all can avail the benefits of getting double the amount they spend with us. We are witnessing great traction within the first few days of the launch, indicating promising times ahead.
  2. BOGO – A popular offering, came as a surprising solution to help guests plan their future travels better. A free voucher equivalent to the booking amount made travel plans a whole lot simpler. With vouchers again carrying 100% flexibility, the offer ensured that customers booking with us at this time were getting deep value for the future as well.

Elevating our basic promises

The post-COVID-19 era will put a major emphasis on cleanliness and safety. Our operations team is gearing up with innovative ways for maintaining and enhancing hygiene standards globally. Our global operations head Shreerang Godbole will soon be sharing further details.

During times when every step shapes the course of the future, we have to stay together to continue solving problems and enable billions of customers to fulfil their plans with industry-leading solutions. 

Till then, ditch the shake and #DoTheNamaste and don’t forget to download the official OYO app for the latest updates.


Meet the author / Abhishek Bansal

Abhishek Bansal is the Head of Revenue Management for OYO India Hotels & Homes business. He is responsible for driving demand & delivering RevPar to our asset partners. He also leads the customer loyalty program, OYO Wizard. Prior to OYO, he has worked with early-stage startups in leadership roles, and as a consultant with Bain & Company. He is an ex-IIMA and IIT-D alumni