As COVID-19 forces businesses to rethink, our teams have plans for continuity and recovery. We want OYO to be the preferred hospitality brand for consumers in the post-Covid reality. Hygiene is going to be a key question. Our sanitised stay offerings to ensure minimal contact-based check-ins are an important step. Customers can seek both affordability and flexibility. OYO Wowcher, a recently-launched initiative, offers double the value for customers, and has flexibility in the duration of redemption. Corporate firms and individuals will look at budget accommodation options that are safe and sanitised. We can expect domestic travel to boom, as restrictions continue on international travel. Pilgrimages and road trips to closer destinations will gain momentum. There will be a preference for staycations as travelers prefer independent boutique hotels, and private vacation homes. Our goal is to ensure long-term sustenance of our business. We will focus on adapting it to operate in a new normal, post-pandemic environment.
At OYO, we are responsible for end-to-end customer experiences with the support of hotel partners. Higher hygiene standards, minimal contact services, and enhanced credibility top the list of consumer requirements. We recently launched the sanitised stays initiative where we train partners to offer minimal touch experiences during check-in/check-out and room service, and offer consumers a visibility of the sanitisation level of a property on online platforms. Our hotels will go through regular background audit checks for sanitisation, hygiene, and protective equipment. We will train 1,000 hotel partners under this programme.
During the COVID-19 crisis, our intent was to minimise job losses. However, we had to take the decision to cut pays by 25 per cent for our fellow OYO-preneurs, and some were placed on leave-with-limited benefits. It’s an incredibly painful time, especially when you are a young company, and you have closely worked with your team members. Recently, we announced that the affected OYO-preneurs would be eligible for ESOPs worth Rs 130 crore (around $18 million). We plan to start an institutionalised placement support system for those who wish to avail it. We have formed an exigency fund for the employees who may need it for critical illness cases. The key will be to retain and maintain a talent powerhouse. While the business has had to make some tough decisions, we continue to strive to improve employee motivation and morale, enable us to emerge as a great place to work and retain a strong standing in surveys like the LinkedIn Best Places to Work.
Founder and Group CEO, OYO Hotels and Homes. (Views expressed are personal)