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Exclusive I Oyo’s Ritesh Agarwal on IPO plans, investments, recovery, quality of rooms, fresh backlash from hoteliers and more

The Oyo Hotels and Homes founder opens up about the $10-billion hospitality company’s troubles and each of the critical issues gnawing at it in in his most wide-ranging interview yet.

September 29, 2020 / 04:07 PM IST

Oyo Hotels and Homes, Japanese investment conglomerate Softbank’s blue-eyed portfolio firm in India, is one of the several businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. The hospitality startup has been beset by a drop in revenues and occupancy levels, grappled with multiple senior level exits and was forced to let go of some properties around the world. And now it faces fresh backlash from numerous hotel owners who are crying foul that it reneged on commitments to the pre-agreed terms after the pandemic. Some have also taken the company to court. In an exclusive interaction with Moneycontrol, Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of Oyo, opens up about the $10-billion company’s troubles and each of the critical issues gnawing at it. Agarwal is optimistic — he thinks the hospitality industry will not take long to recover from the blows of the pandemic.

Edited excerpts:

The hospitality sector has been one of the worst affected by the pandemic because global and domestic travel had dropped to a trickle. What really is happening with OYO in terms of employees, jobs, expansions and profitability?

As you mentioned the hospitality industry and Oyo in particular got impacted by a drop in occupancy due to the impact of Covid. However, Oyo is lucky to operate in two specific segments. The first one is the economy hotels and the second one is vacation homes.