In 2018, OYO and MakeMyTrip (MMT) decided to work with each other. If you have been a regular reader of The Ken, you already know this.
We will get to the minutiae shortly, but this, in a nutshell, was what went down at MMT in April 2018.
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MMT as it turned out, wanted a deeper relationship with OYO. And with OYO’s backers, SoftBank. In exchange, MMT was willing to boot two of OYO’s competitors off its platform. A boost for OYO, to be sure.
But now, just a year in, OYO is renegotiating the terms of its agreement with MMT. Yes, the same agreement that banished its rivals from the MMT ecosystem.
If the earlier agreement meant stifling competitors and ensuring they were taken off India’s largest hotel booking website, the terms of the new agreement are even more demanding. Three key conditions stand out:
- MMT has agreed to guarantee that it will sell 10% of OYO’s inventory each year. So if, let’s say, OYO’s inventory is 2 million rooms, then MMT must sell 200,000. This is in exchange for exclusivity. So, OYO will sell on its own website, MMT and Ibibo (a subsidiary of MMT).
- MMT has also agreed to integrate OYO’s loyalty program. In August 2018, OYO started a loyalty program for frequent users called OYO Wizard. In this new agreement, OYO loyalty points (for discounts) will be offered to all customers who book through MMT, regardless of whether they actually choose to book OYO accommodation.
- MMT has agreed to integrate OYO Money, OYO’s wallet. So any visitor who lands on the OTA’s website keen to book a hotel can now do so using the OYO wallet.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, a significant renegotiation. One which hints at the swiftly changing power dynamics in India’s booming online travel space. With more than a 70% market share of all online travel bookings, MMT is the market leader. Its monopolistic tendencies have drawn the ire of hotel owners across the country who believe the company is squeezing them dry just because it can. Other OTAs like Yatra and Cleartrip have long since been defeated by MMT.
But behind the scenes, a new equation is developing. It is OYO which has now started to show its hand and seems to be getting its way.
“It is clear that MMT is bending over backwards to accommodate OYO,” said a travel research analyst. He requested not to be named because both MMT and OYO are his clients and he didn’t want to jeopardise either relationship.