Naina KhedekarJun 01, 2016 15:00:37 IST
OYO (Rooms), the popular hotel booking startup (web, Android, iOS), has recently gone profitable. In February 2016, it achieved profitability at network-level, Anurag Gaggar, VP, Product Management tells us. OYO offers 65,000 rooms across India and plans to triple the inventory by December 2016. In January the startup launched its first international hotel in Malaysia and is planning to expand operations to South-East Asian markets and Dubai.
“We have witnessed 15x YoY growth with 2.3 mn booked room-night transactions in Q1 Jan-Mar 2016 while our GMV continues to grow aggressively every month,” he said. Gaggar owes to this to the startup’s disruptive revenue-sharing models, deep understanding of markets and new demand growth. Also, points out that cities like Gurgaon, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata have matured over the last year and have been helping drive profitability for us.
Gaggar tells us that the focus has always been on technology and how it can be leveraged for users. The company has built some proprietary apps that benefit not only users but also hotels. To begin with, the OYO mobile app interface has been maintained as simple and slick as possible. Booking a room is mere three clicks away. Then there's the Property Management app that works on a tablet device and allows access to bookings, manage check-in/check-outs and room allotments, take service requests from guests as well as manage billing/payments.
The app enables to collect and track customer feedback on various attributes about the stay and also tag it to the exact room number where he/she stayed in. So, in case the customer complains about a particular room, the app automatically and instantly blocks out a bad room from the network. OYO shares customer reviews, which in turn help hotel owners too, especially those who have no clue what customers think about their property. OYO has a scoring program for hotel, and the score lowers upon every bad feedback.
The OYO Money app helps earn cashback and also serves as a referral program. OYO also has a chat support system as chat is said to be the preferred mode of communication for a lot of people these days. Talking about the ongoing buzz around bots and AI, Gaggar explains, "We are excited about the developments in AI and platforms like Facebook messenger opening up for chat bots, but not in favour of force fitting them within our app. A more interesting use case for the same could be to allow searching and booking hotels through a chat app without needing to download ours, for instance."
However, OYO has a lot of competition. For instance, WudStay (also a profitable startup) has been getting some rave reviews for its customer-centric service. Gaggar says for OYO, quality remains one of the most important aspect, but diligent and smart discounting also helps grow and tap into newer customers.
“Our disruptive business model was the first in the world- after the success of OYO, many other existing/new companies tried emulating our model, but so far none have been able to create the kind of impact that we did. We are working very hard as the market leader and believe in the quality of innovation and focus on customer experience. We offer clean and spacious rooms with hygienic washrooms, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and 24x7 customer support at affordable price range starting from as low as Rs 999,” he explained.
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