After being in the limelight for its path to profitability through restructuring and layoffs, OYO has made the headlines for the wrong reasons again after a hotel owner denied entry to a Jammu and Kashmir resident citing arbitrary rules.
The incident was brought to light on social media where the Delhi University student, Nouman Rashiq, said he had booked an OYO hotel in Delhi’s Vijay Nagar near the DU North Campus on February 14. The student has said that his father visited him in Delhi from J&K, and when he went to begin the check-in process, the hotel refused entry “citing that we don’t allow people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and J&K”.
The hotel allegedly told the student that “this is the hotel policy” and is also “mentioned in OYO’s policy” saying that “J&K ID is not legal ID in India.”
OYO completedly denied instituting such a rule for Jammu & Kashmir residents in its response to Inc42. The company said that there is no discrimination allowed under its terms and conditions for hotels. The company added it is “committed to bringing quality living experiences to all our guests from around the world, irrespective of their religion, race, caste and gender.”
OYO also said that any action that results in discrimination is a serious violation of the basic principles of the company’s ethos. “We have initiated an inquiry into the asset partner’s unilateral actions which resulted in the inconvenience caused to the customer. As immediate steps, we have temporarily suspended operations with the asset partner. We sincerely apologize for this unfortunate experience,” the OYO spokesperson told Inc42.
The concern is that it is not the first time that such a case has come to light. Last year, in August 2019, a 24-year-old Kashmiri doctor was allegedly denied a room by another OYO hotel partner in Delhi’s Jasola Vihar. At the time, the check-in was denied citing WhatsApp messages which were apparently from the government stating that people from Jammu and Kashmir should not be allowed as guests in hotels.
Beyond the J&K issue, which came up after the controversial abrogation of Article 370, OYO was also in headlines for denying entry to an interfaith couple. A Jaipur-based OYO hotel owner said that the local police had specifically ordered the hotel to deny entry to ‘unmarried couples’ from different religions.
The hotel chain is present in more than 415 Indian cities with 18K properties.
Reports earlier this year had raised concerns around its “toxic culture”, before the mass layoffs began. Over the last year, we have reported several times about Oyo’s unpaid dues to hoteliers, protests against the company and police complaints.
OYO founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal had recently made a public statement saying that he believes OYO is going through its most important phase as it looks to supplement its strong business plans with an uncompromising commitment to building an employee-first culture, with significant investment in continually improving its governance framework.