It sure feels like OYO Hotels and Homes is on a roadshow. The budget hotel chain has been stepping up its public relations machinery aggressively in the last few weeks. It has announced entry into the U.S. and Vietnam; a restructuring into three units, India, international, and technology and brand licensing; the hiring of new leaders, and the tying up new distribution partner Meituan in China last month after signing up Ctrip in May, to name a few.
On Wednesday, it announced itself as the third largest hotel chain in the world in terms of room count, certain to fuel skeptics wary of the company’s lightning-fast growth.
Going by OYO’s chart, that means it has leapt three positions from the sixth largest chain with 636,000 rooms in April, to the third largest with 850,000 rooms in June. In a matter of two months, according to OYO, it has overtaken Accor Hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels Group to rise to number three.
To get to the top, it needs to elbow out Hilton Hotels and Marriott International. OYO’s founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal has said the budget chain will be the world’s largest hotel chain in scale, revenue and margin by 2023, with over two million rooms in Southeast Asia alone. Marriott hasn’t got even that globally, with OYO’s chart showing it has 1.3 million rooms currently.
OYO accounts for the swift jump in rooms in two months to China where, in a press statement on June 25 it claimed to have more than 500,000 rooms, making it the country’s largest hotel brand. It also announced an investment of $100 million to improve customer experience, technology and talent in the mainland, the appointment of a chief revenue officer of OYO Judian (OYO’s Chinese name), Zhu Lei, and plans to increase the number of full-time employees, which stood at over 10,000.
That, however, came after the Chinese press alleged that OYO Judian was planning to lay off around 1,000 employees from its development team. The reports, which OYO refuted, came within two months after OYO Judian said it had fired 25 employees and issued warnings to over 100 more, as part of a crackdown on “unethical practices.” In a statement in April, OYO said it had formed an “integrity committee” to weed out malpractices although it declined to elaborate what they were.
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