Indian hotel group OYO in talks with UAE, Saudi partners to review agreements

Company says re-thinking ‘every aspect’ of business in light of Covid-19 impact on global tourism

OYO Hotels & Rooms has revealed it is in discussions with partners in the UAE and Saudi Arabia for a review of their tie up agreements.

The Delhi-headquartered global hospitality chain has also set up a ‘Sanitized Stays’ Quality Council, an independent body within the company, to provide certification on safe stays to all its chain of hotels and long stay facilities to equip them to meet the ‘new normal’ in the marketplace.

“Due to the unprecedented nature of Covid-19 and the impact on our business, we have been in active discussions with our partners to re-think every aspect of our business,” Manu Midha, head of OYO’s Middle East operations, told Arabian Business.

“We will continue to consider all options that enable us to succeed and contribute towards the success of our partners and the communities we serve,” Midha said when asked whether the company has any plans to renegotiate partner agreements in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Pointing out that the global economy is hurting due to the Covid pandemic, Midha said OYO in the GCC was not immune to the effects of this pandemic induced economic slowdown.

“We exist in an ecosystem of partnerships and interconnected businesses, many of whom are feeling significant pain.

“Government imposed travel restrictions and isolation protocols across the region have resulted in significant drops in demand at properties with an uncertain duration,” he said, adding that OYO’s business operations in the GCC region had fared better compared to global leading hotel chains in terms of revenue and occupancies.

As for OYO’s move on the quality council, Midha said this was aimed at addressing consumers’ concerns on safety in the changed market scenario, and the decision followed active engagement with its customers to build a deeper understanding of the shift in their expectations.

“The certification (issued by the council) will be used on travel booking sites such as, Traveloka, Agoda and Expedia, aside from the OYO app,” he said.

Midha said the company’s future marketing campaigns will also focus on the ‘Sanitized Stays’ feature, in line with the emerging trends of corporations looking to move to budget hotels and travellers’ preference for long stays and weekend getaways.

OYO, which entered the UAE market in October 2018, has achieved a footprint of 4,461 keys in 310 hotels and homes by the end of last year.

The SoftBank-backed Indian start-up unicorn is currently present in about 800 cities in various countries.

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