AR, VR can help guests make the right choice: Anil Goel from OYO

Anil Goel, OYO Hotels CTO, believes that technology allows the hospitality company to map end-to-end customer experience from search and reservation to service delivery and check-out.

Technology is at the core of the OYO Hotels & Homes hospitality start-up. Anil Goel, Chief Technology Officer, is responsible for driving the technology strategy. He believes that technology allows OYO to map end-to-end customer experience from the process of searching and booking to service delivery and check-out.

He talked to Mint about how the company is taking advantage of new growth technologies.

How is OYO Hotels and Homes using technology?

Technology is central to the growth of OYO and is a competitive advantage for us in the hospitality industry worldwide. We provide our own property management system called OYO OS to hotels, which helps property managers manage all aspects of the property. We have built a number of in-house apps, such as the Co-OYO app, that allow asset owners to monitor progress and access information related to payments in one place. Asset owners can have full visibility on cash flows, business performance, pricing, customer reviews and recommendations through the Co-OYO app. The app includes advanced analytics that allow a deep dive into asset performance over time, an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate and make decisions about value-added services, performance enhancement by providing insights and easy-to-understand metrics and graphs that enable daily performance monitoring. There’s also Krypton, the mobile audit app from OYO that allows OYO managers to audit properties. Now, a single OYO manager with Krypton is able to manage the audit of more than 300 rooms while at the same time improving the guest experience.

How do you use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data  Analytics, Machine Learning (ML)?

We use ML for dynamic pricing while helping with customer services are AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing). IoT (Internet of Things) is a large area for us where we are experimenting with smart switches and smart lighting to improve the guest experience significantly. This pilot allows us to decide ways to save energy, allow unassisted check-in with smart locks, as well as to determine pre-check-in guest room temperature and lighting preferences. Data science and analytics help us improve the guest experience at every step from a customer experience point of view. Via AI and machine learning, we look at various indicators from day-to-day, weather, place to local events, to be able to learn more and more about which sort of room a customer wants, and what the search results the customer is most likely to value. Data science and machine learning help us understand the behavior of our guests-both preferences and implicit behaviour, how they interact with our search results and app, and how they interact while staying in our hotels.

What about the new Facial Recognition technologies?

Here we are in the domain of exploration. Potentially, facial recognition could have great improvements in customer experience. Imagine a scenario in which visitors would sign in directly online through an app or internet and then walk straight into the room without even having to show the QR code or the device button. But at the same time, the privacy and security concerns need to be balanced. So everything we do will be completely allowed, with the option of opting in or opting out of the process. I see a big play in helping guests make the right choice for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Imagine if your guests really feel like what staying in the hotel room would be like before they booked a hotel. We agree that the hospitality and real estate industries are poised to change technology. And we’re at the top of it.

How big is the team of your tech?

Lobally, we have a team of 2100 plus engineers, primarily based in India and China, although in many other countries we have a smaller presence. We hire the top 1 percent of the world’s technology talent, which includes a combination of campus hiring and hiring engineers from other tech firms.

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