Microsoft confirms OYO investment to digitally transform travel industry

India: Microsoft and travel technology company OYO have announced that they have entered a multi-year strategic alliance to co-develop next-generation travel and hospitality products and technologies.

OYO will now adopt Microsoft Azure as a key enabler to drive cloud-based innovations and “reimagine” the hospitality and travel tech industry. The solutions will be geared to benefit patrons who operate small and medium hotel and home storefronts.

It has also been confirmed that Microsoft made a “strategic equity investment” in OYO, after it was revealed last month that the SoftBank-backed chain had received $5 million in investment from the global tech corporation in a regulatory filing, ahead of OYO’s proposed initial public offering [IPO]. Microsoft is said to value OYO in the region of $9 billion.

Small and independent hotels and homeowners across the world will be able to access OYO’s latest technology to manage their guests’ experience, increase revenue, and run operations seamlessly with the security and scalability of Microsoft Azure.

The pandemic has brought about sizeable shifts in consumer behaviours while booking trips away, including preferences for platforms that enable social distancing, local travel, flexibility, faster booking and improved customer experiences.

Abhinav Sinha, global COO and chief product officer, OYO Hotels & Homes, said: “We are excited to join hands with Microsoft in our constant endeavour to improve business opportunities for the small and independent hotel and home owners, and to redefine experiences for travellers. Our patron app ecosystem provides a ~1.4-2.4x lift in revenues for new hotels and homes that join the OYO network.

“We do this through our products, and application of machine learning [ML] and artificial intelligence [AI], be it running millions of pricing optimisations per day to increase revenues or enabling users to book an OYO within seconds. Our technology and products have helped our patrons drive operational efficiencies and continuously improve the experience for our guests.

“This alliance with Microsoft will accelerate the deployment of our products in the hands of small businesses we work with, allowing us to create even more impact through an integrated technology ecosystem available on the cloud for businesses in the remotest corners of the world. For our guests, this alliance will mean more personalisation, better choices, differentiated experiences and an improved guest experience in the future.

“Microsoft’s commitment is further strengthened by the equity investment in the company,” he added.

As part of the alliance, OYO will develop Smart Room experiences for travellers on the OYO platform, such as premium and customised in-room experiences for its guests. Using Microsoft’s Azure IoT, the experience will include self-check-in supported by a digital register of arrivals and departures and self-Know Your Customer [KYC] along with IoT-managed smart locks and virtual assistance.

Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India, said: “Combining the power of Azure with the tech and product stack developed by OYO, we are looking forward to accelerating innovation in travel and hospitality. It is inspiring to see how the Microsoft cloud is empowering digital natives like OYO to accelerate industry transformation and innovations, turning the challenges of a post-pandemic era into opportunities for the future.”

As well as co-innovating, OYO will begin to share existing workloads with Microsoft Azure, adopt the Microsoft 365 suite for better collaboration and productivity, and switch to Github Enterprise to accelerate tech development in a secure manner. In a bid to make its technologies as accessible as possible across the world, the company is also working on several products to ease patron onboarding.

OYO offers more than 40 integrated products and solutions to patrons who operate hotel and home storefronts across India, Europe and Southeast Asia and 35-plus countries.

Meanwhile, Microsoft entities in India have over 16,000 employees in 11 Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Noida and Pune.