Last year, there was no playbook. But this time around, we’re better prepared to take up the challenge foreseen by the second wave of COVID-19. At OYO, partner centricity is at the core of everything we do. And we’re ready with our patrons to come together to serve the community and the nation.
But let me take a moment and explain the word ‘patron’. Why patron? What’s the difference between a partner or a patron? A patron is someone who supports the business in various capacities. At OYO, patrons are entrepreneurs and small businesses with hotels and homes who are supported by our company’s full-stack, proprietary technology that increases their earnings and eases operations. We at OYO, exist for our patrons to help them drive value from our tech, our brand and our ability to generate demand for them to grow. Recently, I got an opportunity to interact with over 1100+ patrons in a town hall. Taking into consideration the feedback & improvement areas highlighted by our Patrons in our regular NPS survey, we’ve announced several technology led-initiatives which I’ll cover below.
India Partner townhall saw 1100+ participation from our patrons
Breaking the chain and flatten the curve of the virus: Quarantine & isolation facilities
While the business and economies were severely impacted, our commitment to the community remained unflinched. We went one step further and provided reliable and safe stays to frontline workers, tourists, travellers, PGs, and essential service providers.
As part of OYO CARE, our patrons served 100,000+ room nights for healthcare workers, quarantine and self-isolation in 2020. This year, with the new COVID-19 strain, we have re-introduced the ‘OYO CARE’ initiative and promoted the ‘Quarantine Next Door’ campaign under which we are providing accommodation for our front-line workers, individuals travelling for emergencies, and other reasons via OYO. Across India, 150+ OYO hotels are being offered to give accommodations to healthcare professionals for stays across the country as they quarantine away from their families. We’re offering these quarantine facilities with the help of our patrons. We have tied up with several hospitals and local authorities to support COVID-19 patients, the medical community, essential workers to offer pay-per-use quarantine and self-isolation facilities at some of our properties at minimal prices. For example, we’re working with Lady Hardinge, Ambedkar, Ram Manohar Lohiya, Lok Nayak Hospital, who has worked with us previously. Additionally, we launched ‘OYO CARE’ on our mobile app, wherein customers can book quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients as well as individuals with a quarantine requirement. We are going above and beyond on our own readiness to provide hygienic accommodation for everybody.
We’re proud of our patrons who worked tirelessly with us in these times and in return benefited from OYO’s proposition. Mangesh, a hotel owner of OYO Hotel Champion Inn, Bangalore said, “We are very thankful for OYO to generate demand and serve quarantine guests. The company helped us in securing relevant permissions. OYO along with the hospitals, helped us to prepare and follow SOPs laid out to serve the guests. We applied thermal testing, deep cleaning techniques, wearing protective gear including masks, PPE Kits and used disposable cutlery to serve the guests in a safe and hygienic environment.”
A patient being monitored at one of the OYO Care properties in Gurgaon
Supporting the community – Heroes of OYO
It’s disheartening to see the COVID-19 patients and their families struggling for accommodations. Especially, the underprivileged COVID-19 patients have been struggling for their basic right to shelter for isolation and a chance to recover. During such times, hotels have opened their doors to the frontline workers, homeless and are stepping up every day. Our patron Rajiv Kumar Singh from Jamshedpur, has tirelessly helped daily wagers & homeless people affected by COVID by offering free food alongside his property manager & staff. Another OYO patron Neeraj Trivedi from Kota, has been distributing food packets to those who are in need. Till date, he has distributed 2,000 food packets in areas such Kishorpur, Anantapur Station, Nyapur among others.
They are a true example of a good samaritan!
OYO proud patron Rajiv Kumar Singh from Jamshedpur offering free food to daily wagers & homeless people affected by COVID
OYO patron Neeraj Trivedi from Kota distributing food packets
Promoting vaccination among the travellers and small, medium hotel businesses and their staff
Vaccination against the virus is the most important tool to fight COVID-19 and get back to normalcy. To build trust and confidence among consumers, with the help of technology, OYO’s VaccinAid initiative gives visibility into the vaccination status of its hotel staff and patrons on the app. We’re also organising vaccination camps across 9 cities in the country. Till date, 1000 of OYO patrons and their staff have been vaccinated. We’re currently in talks with health partners to organise vaccination camps across cities for our patrons and property staff. Additionally, we’ve also partnered with MediBuddy to provide a 24/7 healthcare line for our patrons for free consultation and guidance through these tough times.
Few glimpses from the vaccinations camps help across Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Pune
Strategic tech interventions to support patrons
We recently rolled out Discover OYO, the flagship product to acquire new consumers for our patrons. Discover OYO is a tech-driven product for the acquisition of new customers. OYO, during the introductory phase, does not charge a commission to build occupancy. In the first phase of the launch itself, we have over 3500+ patrons adopting the product. We’re also enabling them with the flexibility to increase or decrease the inventory on the program as per their requirement. We also enabled digital onboarding of assets and regular engagement through the Co-OYO app. Something all of us at OYO are proud to have launched OYO Secure, a prepaid wallet-based system that lets patrons deposit money in a secure wallet; this is adjusted with the net payment reconciliation system. Today, in India, over 87% of properties have opted to be on OYO Secure, while 88% recharge the wallet via the Co-OYO app. Almost 100% of new onboarding is on this product. This is a transformative change in our business model led by pure tech products.
Multiple patron advocacy and collaborative initiatives
In the past 12 months, we launched several initiatives, including the introduction of waivers to ensure working capital for patrons, greater pricing management through Equal Partner Policy and the second edition of Club Red – loyalty program. We increased engagement through various means of communication, including regular virtual catch-ups, hosting webinars and training sessions. To provide liquidity to our patrons, we have started making payouts twice a week and, till date we have made payout to around 4,000+ unique patrons. In our journey to provide transparency and improve the reconciliation visibility, we’ve simplified our statements and also offer simple to understand deals under Secure, Crystal and Flexi buckets.
Industry-first sanitisation SOPs to welcome travellers
Over the last year, we’ve strengthened safety and hygiene measures, leveraging innovative technology to enable seamless and contactless exchanges. We introduced a one-stop solution for all travel-related assistance on the OYO app in India, including COVID-19 testing with leading ICMR approved pathology labs, visibility to state-wise guidelines, among others. We’re actively updating this and sharing it with our guests. Some other initiatives include:
- Sanitised Before Your Eyes
- Contactless Check-in
- Staff fully trained in safety protocol
- Floor markings for social distancing at our hotels
- Using high-quality PPE & cleaners
With the steady decline in the positivity rate and mass vaccination drives taking place across the country, consumer willingness to travel is strengthening once again. And we’re ready to welcome guests along with our patrons.
Safety & sanitisation protocols in place at OYO hotel
Contact-less check-in at OYO hotel
Technology and innovation are at the core of our partner-centricity. We are humbled to see the results from our regular surveys and positive feedback received on the initiatives we rolled out last year, further reinforcing that we are on the right path and will come out strong together. Each and every team member is committed to engaging with our patrons, taking their recommendations, and aiming to deliver immense value to them. Our initiative VaccineAid gives visibility into the vaccination status of our hotel staff and partner hotels on the OYO app. We believe this will promote the larger cause of vaccination among our customer base and our hotel partners and their staff. Currently, 1700+ properties have declared their Vaccination status on the OYO App.
The vaccination status of one of the OYO Townhouse properties in Noida on the OYO app
Recently, to empower the voice of smaller operators in the ecosystem, travel and hospitality tech players – Airbnb, EaseMyTrip, OYO and Yatra – have come together to back and enable an industry association – Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT). This confederation is a product of conversations among industry leaders, and the vision of the government of India to unite small and medium-sized hotel owners under a unified tech platform, helping them heal from the losses of the pandemic, and ushering them into the new age where they can welcome more guests.
Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture (Independent Charge) Government of India at a virtual event on the inauguration of CHATT in discussion with the founding members
I truly believe that the industry’s willingness to lead with technology will fastrack recovery and play an important role in rebuilding a future-ready tourism industry.
Till then, remember that we’re in this together. Stay Safe !
CEO – OYO India & South-East Asia