The hospitality industry has seen some formidable challenges as the world has dealt with the pandemic. In a post-Covid landscape, as economies cautiously open up, successful organizations like OYO Hotels & Homes are under the lens. While the hospitality ecosystem doesn’t seem to have a choice but to digitize itself as it meets the hygiene-conscious guest, OYO is fortifying itself with a number of technology initiatives.
To find out about OYO’s efforts in digital transformation, The Tech Panda spoke to Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology and Product Officer, OYO. Goel says that technology is deeply embedded in OYO, right from the very beginning.
Technology and digitization will be the new mantra as consumers will be more likely to adopt new technology methods that enable low touch consumption
“We are a technology backed, product-first company, something that always pushes us to innovate and try new things. We have made significant investments in technology and intend to drive growth and support our core capabilities to enhance experiences,” he says.
With Covid’s advent, the company is deploying tech almost every step of the way.
“We firmly believe that when a crisis hits, it’s time to reinvent ourselves. In the past couple of months, since the country has been under lockdown, our technology and product teams have worked round the clock to build preparedness and enable seamless experiences for everyone, including remote working for our employees and asset partners or creating an enhanced consumer experience for our guests around the world,” he adds.
Creating Value for Hotel Owners
Goel elaborated on all OYO’s tech efforts. To begin with, the company has enhanced its discovery and booking process by enabling instant booking for consumers worldwide. Overall, they have rolled out tech-enabled improvements across several areas, including product, addressing partner and customer needs, OTA operations, refund systems, research on partner and customer decisions, dashboards, follow-ups, among others.
“No other hospitality company is using technology or empowering small hotels to deliver value in a way that we at OYO are doing,” he relates.
We firmly believe that when a crisis hits, it’s time to reinvent ourselves
Their pricing algorithms are working to ensure optimum revenue. To ensure that consumers can continue to maintain social distancing and reduce health risks, they are creating safe experiences through ‘tap’ and ‘go’ models to further digitally transform on-ground operations across their hotels worldwide.
They have also introduced a minimal-touch policy for digital check-ins and check-outs to offer guests the best consumer experience while keeping their need to maintain physical distancing.
In addition, they’ve launched multi-lingual support for their in-house built app Krypton, which helps property managers to audit hotels and take customer feedback.
OYO’s self-service app for hotel partners, Co-OYO app, enables efficient tariff management, revenue maximization, recon and payments, booking modifications, self-help, guest experience model (3C), and hotel management. 75% of their new asset partners in April joined through no- physical meetings.
OYO’s Chatbot Yo!
OYO has rolled out Yo! Help, a realtime 24X7 chat assistant, to help customers. The chatbot is a MWeb chatbot module in India, the US, the UK, Malaysia, and Indonesia, in order to nudge the customer to adopt self-serve product features rather than call for queries.
“With Yo! Help, we are enhancing customer experiences, and at the same time, helping our business reduce costs without compromising on the customer service delivered to the end consumer,” says Goel.
In times like this, offering the best consumer experiences, empowering our partners, and gaining their trust and loyalty goes a long way
“Over the past six years, we have built the world’s largest technology-driven hospitality chain and through this journey, consumer feedback has been very important to us. We have used our guest feedback to understand what’s working best and the areas that we could improvise,” he adds.
He also reveals that the chatbot has helped them resolve queries across India within an Average Handling Time (ATH) of 01 minute as compared to a call centre’s ATH of 8-10 minutes. In terms of escalations, the average Turn Around Time (TAT) is 5-7 minutes vs. 2.5-3 hours, depending on the nature of the issue faced.
“Having said that, we also believe that human connection is important, and we’ll continue to enable guests to chat with our agents in case a query needs to be resolved beyond self-serve mechanisms,” he says.
Digital Check-Ins and Check-Outs
In a post-pandemic scenario, the hospitality industry must pull up its socks, and technology is the answer. As Goel says,
“Technology and digitization will be the new mantra as consumers will be more likely to adopt new technology methods that enable low touch consumption.”
Understanding this, OYO has rolled out the Sanitised Stays initiative, which involves the process of digital check-ins and check-outs through the app, offering consumers the flexibility of digital payments and sharing online feedback.
Over the past six years, we have built the world’s largest technology-driven hospitality chain and through this journey, consumer feedback has been very important to us
Goel reveals that the hotel chain has been improving its refund process to give real-time visibility to customers and reduce the time for refund globally. To keep consumers engaged, it’s also continuously leveraging the power of AI and Machine Learning to predict guest behaviour, how they interact with search results and apps, and the interactions they carry out while staying at OYO’s hotels.
“Most importantly, at present, we are focussed on listening to our consumers and partners, their preferences and worries, their feedback to build mechanisms that efficiently meet requirements and ultimately offer seamless experience. In times like this, offering the best consumer experiences, empowering our partners, and gaining their trust and loyalty goes a long way,” he says.