Hospitality industry in the middle of crisis, will overcome setback by innovation: Ritesh Agarwal

Ritesh Agarwal said that though the hospitality sector was badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are few important learnings from the crisis.

Though the hospitality industry is in the middle of one of the toughest crises, it is confident that it will overcome the setback by coming up with new ways of connecting with users, OYO Hotels and Homes founder and Group CEO Ritesh Agarwal said on Thursday.

Speaking at the session on 'Reviving the stressed sectors to support the post-COVID recovery for India' at the Assocham Foundation Week 2020, he said that though the hospitality sector was badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are few important learnings from the crisis.

One of the learning is that domestic tourism is the only way of ensuring that we see through this crisis, Agarwal said.

"Within this, I have three broad beliefs, first is that increasingly in India, there are lots of destinations that are unexplored and by use of technology, we should ensure that a large number of them can be explored," he added.

The second is that a sense of comfort on safety and security needs to be brought again in the minds of users and another is that active efforts for road trips as an absolute growth opportunity will enable people to start travelling again, he added.

"Within that, one of the big opportunities we have been focused upon and have been investing in is farm stays," Agarwal said.

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OYO

Talking about the macro perspectives for the way forward, he said technology and data will become critical for industry, especially for small hotels and holiday homes.

"For example, a small hotel cannot afford to have a revenue manager on their own. So, being able to have a technology which can automatically enable a large part of jobs that an individual can do is valuable," Agarwal said.

In times to come being able to ensure that "we can, not just hold on to the current ways of innovation, but also come up with new ways of reaching out to users is important", he added.

Innovation is going to be the name of the game and, "the travel industry will no doubt come back to equivalent or ahead of pre-COVID-19 levels in the years to come but the way it comes back will never be exactly the same as it was before," Agarwal said.

India Tourism Development Corporation Chairman and MD G Kamala Vardhana Rao said that when everybody is talking about revival of every industry like civil aviation and infrastructure, tourism is the only sector which is talking about survival.

He, however, added that with various confidence-building measures being taken by the hotels in the country, "we are extremely confident that the hotel industry will bounce back".


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