Only 25 now, Ritesh Agarwal, founder and group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, recognized the need for affordable and good-quality hotels in the unbranded budget hotel category at age 17 while traveling and staying in more than 100 bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and hotels. As he described to LODGING, creating a platform for listing existing budget accommodation—as he did with his first venture, Oravel Stays—didn’t change the fact that there was just weren’t enough affordable living spaces that were also comfortable and attractive, period. His solution, he says, was to employ “design, technology, and talent,” to launch what is today the world’s third-largest, and fastest-growing chain of hotels, homes, managed living, and workspaces.
How did you break in to the hospitality market?
We started with one fully managed building in Gurgaon, India, back in 2013, with the ambition of becoming a full-scale hospitality company. However, it was a challenge to convince hotel partners to buy in to this completely new, untested business model. My “tactics” included making a commitment to bear the losses if any, and share profits. Things turned around when partners began seeing repeat customers and greater revenues. They also noticed how hotel operations, revenue management, and CRM became more efficient and convenient via OYO apps.
How, where, and why are you launching your brand in the U.S. now?
I feel that, with our comfort design-oriented hotel chain, we are bringing something special to guests. We already operate over 112 OYO buildings in more than 60 cities and 21 states, including Dallas, Houston, Augusta, Atlanta, and Miami. We have also committed to investing $300 million in the United States for further growth, talent acquisition, competency building, and infrastructure development.
How would you describe your “value proposition” for owners in the U.S.?
Through our successful model of combining design, hospitality, and technological expertise, financial acumen, and operational capabilities, we are able to give real estate owners in the United States the ability to get a higher return on investments, access easy financing opportunities, transform their hotels, and offer good quality customer service, thereby significantly increasing occupancy and profitability.
We can do this because we have invested heavily in building our core competencies —deep renovation capabilities, state-of-the-art hotel technology, world-class pricing and revenue management techniques, and end to end operations and customer support.
What do you like most about being in the hotel industry?
The fact that we have the opportunity to make travel and hospitality a reality for 3.2 billion middle income people around the world, to help them create memories for life by taking away the worries of finding a perfect space for them to live.