Chitra Narayanan (extreme right) at the launch with other panelists.
It was the title of the book that piqued the interest of many and a clarification on the same kicked off the launch of journalist Chitra Narayanan’s From Oberoi to Oyo (Penguin, Rs 399), where she charts the journey of the Indian hotel industry and the challenges thrown at it by the entry of various disruptors. “Oberoi was upset over the association with Oyo but one has to understand that whatever association your brand holds, it is in context of something current. But their disapproval comes from a place of incumbence and they don’t see it the same way,” said Narayanan, “Though Taj was the first hotel in the country and is a much older chain, Oberoi can be considered the first hoteliers of the country, as the Tatas are a conglomerate and had other businesses.” The event was held in Delhi’s India International Centre last week.
An engaging conversation revolving around the hospitality industry, hotel models and modes of doing business dominated the evening. The panel, moderated by Dilip Puri, Chairman, Indian School of Hospitality, had Aman Nath, Founder and Chairman, Neemrana Hotels, Aditi Balbir, CEO and Founder, V Resorts, and the author in discussion. It was while covering the hospitality industry over the years for various financial publications in the country that Narayanan noticed the evolution and disruption it was facing. The entry of foreign chains, companies like Oyo, online travel agents, and young start-ups that changed the course of business got her to look at the industry with a deeper view.
The book cover
“I saw a lot of older chains did not keep up with the changing times and wanted to look into the future. A lot of foreign chains I spoke to were aware of the new players like Airbnb, understood the disruption and were trying out new things but I thought the Indian chains were slow. But over the course of the book, I saw Taj being experimental with introducing the mid-market hotel chain Ginger and brand segmentation with Vivanta,” she says.
The evening saw veterans discuss how hotels are built over time and if there is an Indian standard of hoteliering or one should follow the West, and how the buzz word these days is “experiential”.