Seven and more reasons why OYO is the Netflix of the hospitality industry

Before we deep dive, I wanted to introduce myself… I am Nishant, I have a background in interactive-design-strategy. I have been fortunate to have worked with people of many styles and on projects of various magnitudes over the past 7 years. Last year, mid-way through a project that I was working on, I decided to join OYO. I’d like to share my story.

I’ve always been fascinated with innovators and disruptors, and the third industrial revolution is sure to see many more emerging. Quite a few industries have already seen radical change, thanks to the next generation of companies like Uber, Google, Alibaba, WeChat, and Netflix.When I read about these companies, their work, their culture, their campaigns; its almost inspiring how everything they do is a breakthrough in itself, constantly challenging the status quo. It’s how I want to look at my organization too.

I have been working with OYO for almost a year now, and I’ve had the opportunity to closely observe our style of working. This is an organization of tremendous potential — both in its own quest, and in what it holds for our industry. Hospitality has long been driven by a traditional business model, one that has required significant investment and time. As consumers change the way they experience products and services, sensitive to every action of the brands they use, companies like OYO can occupy a larger share of consumer mind space with their fast and dynamic attitude. This confident, assertive, and ‘professionally polite’ attitude is famously at the heart of a certain Silicon Valley giant — Netflix.

While they operate in two vastly different domains, OYO has had a lot to learn from Netflix, both proactively and subconsciously. I thought I’d share some comparisons and what I gleaned from my learnings. Interestingly enough, during my initial conversations with Ritesh, he gifted me a book called “7 Powers”. Authored by Hamilton Hemler, this brilliant read carries shades of some of the strategies applied by Netflix.

Coincidentally, Netflix just completed 20 years of existence: few can doubt its success and its impact on not just the industry but the entire world. I figured this is as good a time as any to share my thoughts, and why I feel these two companies — while so different — are also so similar.

1. They both started small

Netflix began life as an online video store, and OYO started out as a web store of standardized rooms (although the story goes that OYO started with full-assets, but the public only got to know to know us as a webstore, until now). They changed the game by letting consumers find quality content at affordable prices, while we helped them by creating quality living spaces at affordable prices.

2. They both take complete ownership of supply chain

Netflix understood the importance of owning the complete supply chain and transformed itself into a studio, keeping in mind the delicacies of a true motion picture, fresh, consistent and wide-reaching content to keep the subscribers coming back.

Netflix invested heavily on ‘Originals’ like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Beast of No Nation, to name a few. Similarly, in a hospitality business, the entire model hinges on repeat and loyalty.

OYO has been creating quality living spaces with OYO Townhouse (neighbourhood hotspot) and Home (private homes) that break the pattern of traditional hospitality.

The success of “Originals” — as a concept — opened the floodgates of new opportunities for both the companies. Neither OYO was dependent on the existing hospitality experience, nor Netflix on existing content to produce new quality content.

3. They both cater to everyone and to every need

On Netflix, one can find all formats of content, ranging from TV series to movies to documentaries to talk shows to live events. Similarly, OYO has a variety of accommodations available on its platforms: villas, hotels, resorts, apartments — even tree-houses.

In addition, both the companies have made sure to be comprehensive in addressing all moods and geographies. This has been instrumental to their far-reaching success.

4. They are both ‘mini-cooperatives’

Netflix provided a platform to a lot of undiscovered content, and with their astonishing popularity, it has now enabled a lot of new and standalone creators to build content with freedom (it has ~700 originals planned for 2018); a precedent that now even allows traditional producers to branch out and experiment.

I hail from a small city in India. I have seen many aspiring hoteliers struggle to meet the standards of industry, one such case happened in my family itself. My relative got really impressed with the value that OYO added in other hotels in the city and hence decided to partner with OYO. And now he is enjoying the benefits as well and wants to do more to upgrade the experience. In the same vein, OYO is enabling and encouraging next-generation hoteliers (more than 3000 of them exclusively) to build great assets and showcase them to the city’s visitors. Gorgeous cultural stays in Udaipur, secluded leisure homes in Goa, convenient business stays in Gurgaon — we’re for the people, by the people. By transforming these hotels into beautiful, vibrant living spaces, OYO has given them a fresh identity and helped them become a crucial part of a city’s culture.

5. They both work on creating efficiencies through useful technological interventions

Both OYO and Netflix focus heavily on efficiency in every aspect of their work. Netflix’s Prodicle puts a variety of production application technologies into the hands of their freelance production crew, while OYO OS (our proprietary hotel management system) brings together multiple applications under one platform — from front desk reservation, procurement and inventory, hotel services and operations to food & beverage management.

During my initial days, when I was travelling to explore different markets in India, I interacted with multiple hotel owners, property managers and travel agents who hailed about OYO’s visibility and transparency of real-time inventory which made me realise the power of Krypton App, OYO OS App and CRS. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when all these technologies and functionalities were limited to desktops. It was a cumbersome process, and it wasn’t very intuitive, until OYO brought innovative execution with a hand-held device similar to what you see Uber doing with its driver’s app.

6. They both heavily rely on data to make their decisions

Netflix’s magical use of data is world-famous. From birth of originals to recommendation engine to interface, they squeeze every bit of information out of these touch-points to make innovations. I can definitely see the effect of it on my Netflix profile.

I have seen a similar approach being followed at OYO, where every move the company makes is driven by data. From pricing to hotel sorting to how we design interior spaces. This has made sure the company doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to living up to the industry’s standards and service levels.

Whether it comes to producing content or transforming hotels, both companies have built industry-beating teams that are the best at what they do. Netflix has been successfully making entire seasons available in one go so that users can consume it at their own pace. Similarly, OYO transforms properties within 15 days to make quality spaces available in record time.

Check out this video showing how OYO transformed a hotel in less than 15 days:

When OYO launched in Nepal

This pursuit of excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed. Netflix productions have been bestowed Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards, and OYO has been honoured with the prestigious Hotelier Awards and Consumer Experience Awards.

7. They both keep consumer at the centre and upgrade their experience

Netflix tapped into customer behaviour and learnt from it, shaping its service to the finest details, simplifying the experience: watching, skipping, browsing, searching — everything. It’s thanks to this user-centric model that we feel much more comfortable using the service, and are much more likely to become loyal followers and advocates.

In the same vein, I have felt that the approach at OYO has always been user-centric. There is so much importance given to simplification of experiences to make life smarter. OYO has focused on smart benefits as per the needs of our users, and we too have shaped our offerings and defined the customer journey accordingly. We’ve used technology to make things simple for them — two-step booking, problems’ addressal with assistance from OYO Captains, and convenient payment options.

Both companies have thrived on the ability to create their own ‘universe’: 95% of our bookings come from our own brand platform. Netflix, of course, rides on its own subscriber base.

The companies are sure to lead the era of radical shared economies. Netflix is now a self-fueling engine and a playground for its partners — it has allowed a whole array of partners to exercise their talents on the platform and run with it. OYO is still a very young organization, but I can say with certainty that we’re on the right course. I feel there is a lot of enthusiasm among our customer and continuous support of our partners — and as more and more owners and spaces collaborate with us — we are sure to further make staying a beautiful experience.

I leave you with this video of a home I highly recommend.

Good entertainment, good spaces — it doesn’t get better than this.

Until next time, cheers!