Ritesh Agarwal founded OYO Rooms with a single hotel in Gurgaon, India, in 2013. He was 19 years old. Today, it's the world's second-largest hotel company, at least by room number, surpassing 1.2 million rooms in about 35,000 hotels. Those plus its 125,000 vacation homes are spread across 800 cities in 80 countries. Agarwal recently told Bloomberg Businessweek that the company adds between 70 and 80 hotels a day, a speed at which no other major hotel business comes close.
The company's footprint is largest in India, its home base, but it has made significant investments in China and other countries on four continents. It also announced in June a $300 million shot into the U.S. market, where the company now operates more than 200 OYO hotels in 21 states and 60 cities, including Las Vegas' former Hooters hotel, which it purchased in August. The company has been opening on average 1.5 hotels per day, Agarwal told BTN. As for how much of its business is attributed to corporate travel globally, the company wouldn't say. But it did share that in India, the portion is about 30 percent. GBTA in 2018 forecast that the total business travel spend in India was approximately $37.1 billion, so hardly insignificant.
OYO's SilverKey and Collection O brands cater to the corporate travel market in India. Agarwal also noted that business travelers benefit from OYO Wizard, which is a paid loyalty program in that country. There are more than "5 million subscribers contributing to 49 percent of OYO bookings." Frequent customers earn "guaranteed discounts, cashback, discount coupons and upgrades."
The company recently was valued at $10 billion and has attracted investment dollars from such well-known funders as SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Ventures, among others. Even onetime rival Airbnb invested in the company in April, to the tune of between $100 million to $200 million. When it comes to corporate details, however, the private company keeps its information close to the vest.
Still, its rapid rise has come at a cost. Reuters in November reported that OYO filed a valuation report with India's ministry of corporate affairs that showed a net loss of 23.85 billion rupees ($332 million) in the year to March 2019, compared with a loss of 3.6 billion rupees a year earlier. It also included projections of losses in India and China through at least 2022. Some hotel owners have complained that OYO focuses on occupancy at the expense of profits.
Whether OYO can penetrate the U.S. business travel market remains to be seen, but if its India numbers are any indication, the answer is a swift yes.