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OYO adopts emerging tech to deliver anytime-available stay

With constantly changing consumer demands, preferences and 24x7 consumer-facing operations, OYO Hotels & Homes is leveraging innovative technologies to ensure customised experiences for its growing list of hotel guests

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OYO Hotels & Homes hosts guests from around the world in over 23,000 hotels and over 850,000 rooms, and more than 46,000-holiday homes, adding over 80,000 rooms every month, globally.

OYO that started as a single hotel in Gurugram, is today South Asia’s largest, China’s second largest single hotel brand, the world’s 3rd largest and fastest-growing chain of fully operated, franchised and leased hotels, homes, managed living and workspaces.

OYO Hotels & Homes, a tech-driven hospitality business model, is adopting emerging technologies and talent to deliver predictable, affordable, anytime-available stay experiences for travellers. “With a 24×7 consumer-facing nature, it’s imperative that we adapt to new-age technologies. Every night almost 500,000 heads rest on a pillow in an OYO, a testament to the impact we are creating globally. Technology has played a pivotal role in this growth,” says Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology & Product Officer, OYO Hotels & Homes.

Technology is deeply embedded in OYO’s DNA. It powers each and every aspect of hotel management – right from procuring linen to checking in a guest or ordering food or tea, coffee during the time of the stay.

AI, ML and data sciences
At OYO, Goel is using Machine Learning (ML) for dynamic pricing while Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are helping in customer services.

From a customer standpoint, data science and analytics are helping OYO Hotels to enhance guest experience at every step. Goel analyses multiple metrics, from time of day, weather, location to local events, to be able to learn more about what kind of a room a customer prefers. What are the search results the customer is most likely to appreciate?

OYO is using data science, and ML helps them understand guest behaviour – both preferences and implicit. How they interact with the search results and app? The interactions they carry out while staying at the hotels. For example, if the guest prefers a certain kind of a hotel and amenities, relevant hotels matching previous preferences will appear on top of the search results. This is enabling them to offer highly personalised experiences, right from customised search results to the way their guests are greeted at the hotel.

He adds, “Customer service and experience are of utmost priority to us. We, at OYO, have been able to deliver a great hospitality experience which has helped us to scale up rapidly. Today approximately 90 per cent of our business comes from repeat and word of mouth customers, a testament of our popularity.”

Streamlining processes through mobility
From an operational efficiency perspective, their proprietary apps like Krypton, a mobile audit and AI-driven app, enables OYO Captains to audit properties and ensure an excellent guest experience. Optimus, a dedicated transformation app, enables OYO teams to understand the transformation requirements of a building while giving cost estimates, budget in audits to assign tasks and tracking the pace at which the process is taking place, empowering on-ground teams to ensure the great customer experience.

They support the asset owners via the owner app – CO-OYO, which is a single touchpoint for owners for their OYO and hotel-related concerns and provides them visibility into the business activities on a day to day basis. OYO has revolutionised the fragmented and legacy-driven budget hospitality space by empowering small and independent asset owners with the operational capabilities and technology that enables them to compete with big hotel chains and achieve high occupancies and, therefore, yields.

Matching up evolving customer demands
With constantly changing consumer demands, preferences and a 24×7 consumer-facing nature, Goel is leveraging innovative technologies to ensure not just excellent but customised experiences.

He explains their three-fold digital strategy, which focuses on on-ground teams/employees and asset owners, along with customers. “Without operational efficiency and asset owner support, it becomes challenging to ensure a great end customer experience. We leverage technologies like AI, ML and NLP, and more to support all our stakeholders. Also, our in-house stack of proprietary technology powering 20+ applications along with 400+ microservices and 1,000 full-stack engineers spread across multiple locations, enable us to deliver a consistent and standardised travel experience.”

In India, cash is the most preferred mode of payment and digital payments are catching up, but in China, customers use WeChat app or Alipay while in Japan, credit and debit cards are used more frequently. “We have heavily localised, for instance, as we introduce new geography, we can integrate with the local payment instruments with the least amount of effort. Our technology infrastructure is empowered to handle all such localisations while ensuring that security is optimum and the transaction cost is the least,” he further explains.

Further, localisation is applicable across the app and web experience, including the language, currency, time zone and how the users from a particular geography want their experience to be. Data analytics and AI are helping the interfaces become more intuitive to country-specific as well as individual requirements.

Hospitality & real estate are broken categories

There is a huge disconnect between demand and supply of quality living spaces, forcing travellers and city-dwellers to compromise on location, quality, and price. Goel adds, “At OYO Hotels & Homes, we leverage the right technology and talent to deliver predictable, affordable, anytime-available stay experiences for travellers. Technology powers every aspect of hotel management – right from procuring linen to checking in a guest or ordering food or tea, coffee during the time of the stay.”

For the asset owner (hotel partner), OYO Hotels is leveraging technology to enable independent hotel owners to manage all daily functions of the property – bookings visibility, sales channels, customer requests, housekeeping, finances. He mentions, “Our biggest differentiator is the full-stack fulfillment led model, where we fully acquire hotels and homes, on franchise, or lease, renovate it and bring it up to OYO standards, use our technology and operational capabilities to ensure seamless management of the property – revenue, pricing, day to day guest experience, etc., and then use an omnichannel distribution strategy, across online and offline channels, leading to over 90% of our demand.”

He continues to illustrate, that they have 1,000+ full-stack engineers who are behind building OYO’s proprietary technology. One of the key development centres was inaugurated in Hyderabad on July 2017. This centre encourages them to consolidate their technology stack. The facility will focus on the development of innovative products that can effectively serve customers, owners, and employees.

Going forward, gradually they plan to expand their team at the Hyderabad development centre and have 650+ engineers in India. “We are also looking at additional teams for supply chain technology and transformation technology in Hyderabad. We have launched multiple tech centres in India, and seeing the exceptional growth trajectory of OYO. We will ramp up our technology prowess by taking the count of our technology team to 2020 engineers by the end of the year 2020. We are hiring across functions including machine learning, business analytics, data science among others,” Goel says.

Express check-in and check-out
For hassle-free check-in and check-out, they have their own proprietary hotel management system called the OYO OS. Every hotel, which is a part of OYO’s chain works on the OYO operating system giving them a cutting-edge advantage with sophisticated features, including express check-in, check-out. It further allows for the online procurement and inventory management.

Exploring IoT
IoT is also a big area, Goel is now deploying IoT which is in the pilot phase, in a large number of rooms which will help control things like AC temperature, lighting. “We are also at an early stage of experimentation of keyless check-ins that can enable smoother processes. Based on that we will learn the temperature and lighting the guest prefers which can enable auto setting the same before the guest checks in,” he says.

The IoT powered smart switches and smart lighting will enable less electricity consumption, unassisted check-ins with smart locks as well as determine guest room temperature and lighting preferences that can be activated pre-check-in.

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