Even as its India business faces the ire of hotel associations, OYO is hiring top leadership across key markets to drive its aggressive international growth plans.
Backed by its grand vision and investment support of Softbank Vision Fund, OYO Hotels & Homes has ramped up on high profile leadership appointments in three of its fastest growing global markets – China, Malaysia and Europe.
The company has roped in Sam Shi for the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) for its Chinese subsidiary OYO Jiudian. Shi has served as president of global consumables and CEO at Asia Pulp & Paper Co. He has also worked with energy drink maker Red Bull and French hospitality multinational Accor Group besides two decades in Pepsi China. He will directly report to founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal.
In addition, Wilson Li has been appointed chief financial officer at OYO China. He has previously worked at car rental firm Car Inc. Jia Zou, who is a veteran with stints at Google and Uber has been appointed technology head and Tony Liang, who has earlier worked with Wanda, SF Express and Dianping, has been appointed chief human resources officer.
OYO has also hired Andrew Verbitsky to head its operations in the European market. Verbitsky has past experience in a number of companies including Airbnb and Delivery Hero.
Jeremy Sanders has been appointed the head of UK operations and Tan Ming Luk will serve as country head for Malaysia. All three will report to OYO COO Abhinav Sinha.
Ritesh Agarwal commented on the developments, “With some of the best and brightest minds joining the leadership team in our home market China and high-priority markets in Southeast Asia and Europe, I am confident that they will be able to help us set new benchmarks in the hospitality industry. What we are attempting is to solve the demand-supply imbalance that characterises the global hospitality sector through technology and talent and these appointments will take us a step ahead in this direction.”
The company’s overwhelming focus on China is not surprising. OYO Jiudian has penetrated 280 cities across China in just over a year of launch, and operates across over 5,000 hotels and 260,000 rooms. The company has raised US$ 1.16 billion so far, and has recently received US$ 100 million from ride hailing company Grab.
Meanwhile, OYO is facing possible boycott in India from a pan-India association called Hotel Association Confederation of India for deep discounting, operational mismanagement, and arbitrary contract changes and payment deductions. Federation of Hotels and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has also announced plans to approach the Competition Commission of India and tourism ministry.
Ashraf Ali, joint convenor, HACI claims the support of 47 pan-India associations and 8,000 hoteliers. He alleged, “Oyo has become more stubborn and our concerns still exist. They are trying to contact individual hoteliers, which is not useful. Our Oyo-listed partners in Jaipur will not accept bookings from January 15, which will be followed by other cities like Mysore and Shirdi and later Mumbai.”
Considering the gravity of the situation, OYO may as well hire some seasoned conflict management experts to guide its India operations as well, considering that it is in aggressive hiring mode!