Microsoft Teams With SoftBank-Backed Oyo on AI-Driven Hotel Tech

(Bloomberg) — Hospitality startup Oyo Hotels entered a multiyear alliance with Microsoft Corp. to develop new travel technologies enabled by the U.S. firm’s Azure cloud infrastructure and artificial intelligence.

The work will focus on improving the digital capabilities of small and medium hotels as well as home-stays and Microsoft has made an investment in Oyo, the two companies announced on Thursday. India-headquartered Oyo is backed by SoftBank Group Corp., Greenoaks Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and after Microsoft’s $5 million investment carries a valuation of $9.6 billion, third in the country behind Byju’s and Paytm. It aims to grab a larger slice of the pandemic-hit and speedily digitizing global hospitality industry.

The startup is preparing to file initial public offering documents in the coming weeks, Bloomberg News reported last month.Oyo, whose parent is Oravel Stays Pvt., is building digital services to streamline the booking process and enable small and medium hotels to accept price-optimized bookings in seconds and layer extras like self-check-in, self-authentication and smart locking systems on top. All of this will now be powered by Microsoft’s Azure Internet of Things and Oyo is transitioning to also using the Microsoft 365 productivity suite and Github Enterprise service. Pandemic-induced shifts in traveler preferences include new demand for social distancing, local travel options, greater flexibility, faster bookings and greater freedom for customization, Oyo said. The company saw its ambitious expansion plan scuppered by the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent losses and layoffs were compounded by resurgences of the virus.

Oyo operates thousands of hotels, home stays and resort properties under its brand at home in India as well as across Europe, Southeast Asia and the U.S.

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