If you think Indian startups blindly copy their western counterparts, here’s an innovation from a startup that could’ve only happened in India. Budget rooms aggregator Oyo Rooms has introduced a feature on its app that only lets you view hotel rooms that are friendly towards unmarried couples.
Laws around unmarried couples staying together in rooms are hazy in India. Until recently, Oyo’s terms and conditions stated that hotels could deny unmarried couples who wanted to book a room, but implementation is often lax. This led to an uncertainty around whether a particular hotel would be accommodating of unmarried guests, and often caused users to make awkward phone calls to the hotel beforehand to ascertain their stance.
Enter Oyo Relationship Mode
Oyo has added a (rather cute) purple heart to the UI which activates the “Relationship Mode” and only shows a filtered lists of hotels.
In order to popularize the initiave, Oyo is offering a 20% discount on these rooms until 30th September.
This isn’t the first time that a hotel chain in India has used the relationship angle to court guests. StayUncle, a Delhi based startup is founded on the entire premise of letting unmarried couples find a room, with a tagline of “Couples need a room, not judgement”. But Oyo is a significantly bigger brand than StayUncle, with over 70,000 rooms available across the country.
While whether unmarried couples should be allowed to take hotel rooms is a debate that will take cultural and moral tones, one thing is certain – for Oyo to introduce such an initiative clearly shows that they’re a demand for such rooms. And the nature of startups is to fill gaps in demand. When society doesn’t move fast enough, capitalism sometimes needs to give it a push.