Home >Companies >Start-ups >Oyo shifts focus as curbs relaxed

BENGALURU : Hospitality startup Oyo will primarily focus on European, South-East Asian, and Indian markets for fresh bookings as they open up domestic air travel and hotels, said Rohit Kapoor, chief executive officer, India and South Asia, Oyo.

The company’s focus markets in the next few months will also depend primarily on country-level occupancy rates, besides other parameters, including the extent of spread of covid-19 infections.

The homegrown hospitality unicorn has suffered significantly because of the global pandemic, forcing it to reduce expenses and lay off thousands of employees across foreign markets, including Japan and China, besides India.

“Impact on our business is also directly dependent on the scale of lockdown in each country...many geographies have gone into multiple phases of lockdown since March," Kapoor said.

Japan did not call for a nationwide lockdown, but Oyo started scaling down its operations as fresh covid-19 cases resurfaced, forcing the country to put stricter travel restrictions in place, Kapoor said. Bloomberg reported on Monday that Oyo had permanently shut its offices in several Japanese provinces, including Sapporo, Sendai, Nagano, Hiroshima, and Omiya, by the end of June. It is also looking to downsize its business operations in Tokyo.

The hotel aggregator furloughed a majority of its US staff in June to save cash, even as the market showed some signs of a recovery. In an e-mail to employees seen by Mint, Oyo’s chief operating officer, Abhinav Sinha, said the startup will also lay off a majority of the furloughed staff in the US, where revenue is still 25% below January levels. This will set the company back in a high-growth geography significantly, Sinha added in his letter.

Both the US and Japan layoffs were part of Oyo’s global downsizing process, which was announced in April. Back then, the startup had announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs globally, reducing the total employee size to 25,000. Mint reported last week that Oyo also ended minimum business guarantee contracts with around 250 hotel owners in India.

Oyo has seen a recovery in hotel bookings in India, following institutional demand for self-quarantine facilities. Mint reported on 25 June that the online travel segment, including hotel and domestic flights, have seen some demand recovery.

Bookings have started reviving from the top 20 cities and its suburbs, after the first month of reopening, said Kapoor.

This demand is mostly coming from business travellers and individuals booking homestays and self-quarantine rooms, he said.

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