The COVID-19 pandemic would mean that holiday-goers would shy away from larger hotels, says Ritesh Agarwal, the CEO of India-based OYO Hotels and Homes.
They are more likely to choose boutiques and home rentals in the near future, he clarifies.
OYO Rooms is a hospitality chain that includes leased and franchised hotels, homes and living spaces.
Mr Agarwal’s comments reflect the belief within the hospitality industry that the outbreak of corona virus would radically change the nature of travel.
“The hospitality industry will never be the same again, that is absolutely clear. Small hotels are going to be in vogue. In my view, small is going to be the new big, wherein people will rethink a lot about going back to that 1,000-room hotel versus going to a 40-room niche hotel.”
Agarwal was just 18 years old when he launched OYO in 2013. The innovative business allows guests to book hotels via its mobile app and also franchises its brand and provides similar facilities in hotels on its network.
It is funded by Japan’s SoftBank. OYO currently has more than 43,000 hotels and nearly 1 million rooms in 80 countries across more than 800 cities in its network.
The loss making OYO was also forced to lay off employees as the hospitality sector was hit hard by the health crisis and the following lock down.
Signs of recovery
According to Agarwal, OYO has seen some green shoots of recovery especially in regions such as the United States and Europe.
Majority of OYO’s customers in the US are pharmaceutical representatives, essential workers and truckers. Recent records show that the company’s revenue per available room is about 92 percent of pre-corona virus levels and OYO has seen record sales.
OYO is one of India’s largest startups and was estimated at $10 billion in its most recent private funding round held in December.