Love hotels can be identified using symbols such as hearts and other kinds of sexual signs, and operates primarily for the purpose of sexual activities. The name originates from “Hotel Love” in Osaka, Japan, built in 1968.
If that’s the idea, Oyo rooms could become the breeding ground for prostitution, besides accommodating the budget travellers. A friend of mine visiting Delhi last week put up at Oyo rooms in Karol Bagh. He is not going back, that much he made amply clear! He didn’t share much, but he hinted at something primal, raw. They are marketing it aggressively, especially through radio, which these days don’t play many songs! Advertisements and personal jokes take most of the time slot.
The owners own and manage the hotels, while the Oyo people essentially provide training, standardisation of the product, and marketing of these hotels. It is considered to be value addition to these properties.
Starting at just Rs. 999, an Oyo room comes equipped with free Wi-Fi, a television set, and an air-conditioner. With money pouring in from all quarters, founder-CEO Ritesh Agarwal is not too worried about the doles.
In July, 2015, Oyo rooms raised 100 million dollars from Softbank from Japan, a country where ‘love hotels’ originated. Softbank, perhaps, sees the potential in the business model. It worked so beautifully well in Japan!
In 2012, OYO Rooms got its first round of funding from Venture Nursery. Another round of funding took place in 2014, which came from Lightspeed Ventures. Recently, in March 2015, Oyo rooms raised $25Million from Lightspeed, Sequoia and others. These business leaders understand the potential Oyo rooms have.
For lovers and sex racket, the need for an economical room is crucial, something that Oyo rooms offers without a fuss. It also promises absolute privacy. Yes, I may be insinuating that Oyo rooms could one day become India’s largest chain of love hotels, but I am doing so because I see the signs, literally.
South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and other East Asian countries have love hotels doing good business. The annual revenue of the love hotel industry in Japan alone is estimated at more than $40 billion! More than 500 million visits to Japan’s 37,000 love hotels take place each year, which is the equivalent of around 1.4 million couples visiting a love hotel each day.
Back home, Oyo rooms could become a nuisance for the genuine budget traveler because of the presence of sexual element in it. But these are early days to claim anything for sure.