There are hotel chains and then there are hotel chains. One of the chains that has somehow managed to fly underneath the radar for quite some time is suddenly taking the world by storm. Called OYO, it is a chain based in India but it seems that everyone all over the globe is taking notice. There are a lot of reasons why this particular chain is starting to get so much attention. If you want to know what they are, keep reading. Below are 20 things about this particular chain that are worth knowing.
1. The chain has been in business for less than 10 years
One of the things that truly sets this company apart from virtually every other competing business is that this particular chain has only been in operation for about 8 years. Working in the hospitality industry isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world in the first place. Creating a successful startup in this industry is even more difficult. That fact has been made exponentially more difficult by the COVID-19 virus and lockdowns across the globe that have, at various times, virtually brought the hospitality industry to a complete standstill. Nevertheless, this chain has managed to do fairly well, even during the most recent times where other chains that were far more well-established were struggling to survive.
2. They operate in 80 different countries across the globe
As a matter of fact, they've done so well for themselves that they now operate in at least 80 different countries across the globe, including the United Kingdom and the United States. That is saying quite a lot for a budget hotel chain that got its start in India. Despite the slowdown of the hospitality industry that has happened recently, the chain is still on target to expand into more locations throughout the United States within the next one to two years.
3. It all started with a series of budget-friendly hotel rooms
As previously mentioned, the chain started with a series of budget friendly hotel rooms, almost exclusively across India. From there, they expanded into China, Brazil and Mexico, eventually expanding into both the UK and the US. In addition to expanding into different countries, the company eventually started expanding into providing more options than just budget-friendly hotel rooms. While that is still their mainstay, they also provide individual rooms and even houses that can be rented for a predetermined amount of time, much like Airbnb.
4. The company was started by founder Ritesh Argawal when he was a teenager
As a matter of fact, he was only 19 years old when he founded the company. The fact that he was capable of creating a company this successful at that age is astonishing, to say the least. The thing that is even more astonishing is that he is also a high school dropout. Clearly, his decision to drop out of high school has not had an adverse impact on his ability to understand how businesses operate or what his clients are looking for.
5. Inspiration for the company came from a backpacking trip
Interestingly enough, his inspiration for the company came from his decision to backpack across India after he dropped out of high school. As he was doing so, he would periodically look for places to stay for the night, only to find that there weren't enough accommodations available. As a matter of fact, there were very few accommodations at all and the handful that were available were often unreliable, booking multiple people and then giving the room to whoever showed up first. He quickly recognized that this was something that needed to change in his own country. Therefore, he started the company and grew it throughout India. Once the company had become widely successful there, he started expanding to different parts of the globe.
6. The seed money came from PayPal
He got the initial seed money to start the company from a grant that came from PayPal. This particular grant is designed specifically for individuals who have dropped out of high school and need money for a startup. The grant is inspired by the fact that PayPal’s founder was also a high school dropout. Therefore, the company provides a limited amount of grants on a yearly basis to individuals who are starting new companies, provided that the individuals in question did not finish their senior year.
7. They offer rooms at dirt-cheap prices
The main thing that attracts most people to the hotel chain is that they offer rooms at prices that simply can't be beaten. For example, a room at one of their hotels in San Antonio can be had for as low as $25 a night. That price includes a clean room with the television, air conditioner, and free Wi-Fi. Customers who are willing to pay $10 to $15 more per night can get a few more amenities. Depending on availability, those individuals may be able to choose rooms with a small refrigerator, an iron, and a coffee maker. Considering the fact that most rooms that offer fewer amenities are twice as expensive, it's easy to see why so many people are interested in staying in these particular rooms.
8. Everything can be booked through their app
They make booking a room a breeze. All you have to do is download their app on your smartphone and then you have access to all of the available accommodations in your area. That app allows you to see exactly where those accommodations are, what types of amenities are involved and how much each accommodation costs per night. You choose the one that works best for you and then book the room directly through the app.
9. Even Airbnb has invested in the company
The company has garnered so much attention that even Airbnb made the decision to invest in it. By most accounts, they invested rather heavily in the company. However, it is a private company so the exact amount of money that they provided is not publicly known. What is known is that it is virtually unheard of for a direct competitor to invest in another company, yet that is exactly what happened here.
10. The company operates on a simple foundation
Since the day they first began operations, they have operated on the foundation that as long as clean rooms with a few basic amenities are provided at a low-cost, people will be interested in booking those rooms. Obviously, it is a foundation that has been working quite well.
11. They have since expanded to include housing for both students and business professionals
More recently, the company decided to expand to long-term housing for both college students and business professionals who need a place to stay for more than a couple of nights. Those interested in these types of accommodations can book their rooms in exactly the same way that someone would book a hotel room. The difference is that the booking is more of a long-term option, ranging from several nights to six months or even longer. Of course, these accommodations also have their prices adjusted accordingly for long-term stays. They also include a few more amenities such as full-size refrigerators and even a microwave in order to make it easier to stay in those accommodations on a long-term basis.
12. They’ve also started working in the leisure market
In light of their overwhelming success, the company has also started providing accommodations in the upper class leisure market. In some cases, this involves townhomes and other types of similar structures. Some individuals prefer to rent out these townhomes on a long-term basis and some only stay for a few nights. The company even has a few houses that are available for vacation stays. Families can book them for as long as they want, whether it is for a week or several months. In each case, the company ensures that every person who rents these accommodations has access to luxury items that easily allow OYO to compete with Airbnb or any other service like it.
13. They recently scaled down their operations
Despite their enormous growth, the company has started to show a few chinks in the armor. Most recently, they have furloughed approximately 25% of their global staff because of funding shortages. Some people attribute this fact to the COVID-19 pandemic but others say that the problems were present long before the hospitality industry as a whole became derailed. In fact, many people point to the company's business operations as the reason why they are now being forced to change things up.
14. There have been questions about them doing too much , too soon
One of the things that critics have been quite vocal about is the fact that the company expanded so rapidly, covering no less than 80 different countries across the globe in their eight years of existence. As a matter of fact, many experts in the hospitality industry claimed that no other company has ever accelerated their growth at this pace. According to them, it was only a matter of time before they hit a brick wall and there are signs that they have done exactly that.
15. There are also issues between partners
It seems that staff members are not the only ones that are currently unhappy with the way OYO is doing business. There have also been reports about companies that have partnered with the hotel chain who are not happy with the way they are handling matters. OYO has always worked with other hotel chains, basically leasing those particular facilities in order to run them under their name and then giving the parent company a certain percentage of the profits. Recently, an overwhelming number of partners have left OYO, effectively taking back their hotels in order to run things themselves.
16. They are now focusing on homes that are managed
As a result of some of their issues related to hotel room bookings, the company has started looking at expanding into other areas that provide them a little more flexibility. One of those areas involves focusing on homes that are managed in their entirety, specifically for young professionals who are very busy and don't have time to worry about housekeeping, cooking and all of the day-to-day activities that most people typically do. It's basically like living in a typical home, only the same services that are available at a high-end hotel are available on a daily basis. The end result is that the person staying there doesn't have to cook their own meals, clean their own house or even launder their own clothes. Everything from dusting to lawn care is handled on their behalf, allowing them to effectively come and go as they please.
17. Many busy people are starting to take note
Many individuals who don't have time to take care of household duties on a daily basis are taking note of the services that OYO provides. After all, it works very well for individuals who have extremely demanding careers that require them to travel the globe and be gone for months at a time. They're able to leave their home and know that it will be cared for, returning months later to a home that is in the same condition as it was when they left it.
18. They operate on an entirely different concept
There is no doubt that they operate their business differently than any other hotel chain that has ever existed. Up until they came along, Airbnb was probably the closest thing to this particular business model. That company has also gone through its fair share of growing pains, something that OYO is currently experiencing.
19. They are implementing all of their services on a single digital platform
One of the things that makes them unique is that they are attempting to get all of their services on a single digital platform so that everything can be easily accessed in a matter of moments. However, some critics say that doing so requires consumers to provide too much personal information that could potentially be stolen or shared without their permission.
20. They appear to have a business model that is ideal for modern-day consumers
Despite their growing pains, they do indeed appear to have a business model that works well for busy professionals and individuals who want to enjoy new travel experiences without having to worry about handling every aspect of their accommodations themselves.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee