OYO’s vernacular play: Taps into growing online Indian language user base, enables booking in Hindi

By: |
August 19, 2019 5:01 PM

SoftBank-backed OYO saw around 40 per cent of its booking In June 2019 come from cities including Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, etc., even as it looks to cater to tier-II and tier-III users and growing vernacular internet user base.

OYO hotels, free insurance cover, ACKO insurance, OYO partners ACKO, OYO to give free insurance coverThe Indian language user base is likely to shoot up from 234 million in 2016 to 536 million in 2021 growing at 18 per cent CAGR.

With India’s 75 per cent of internet users expected to be non-English or Indian language users by 2021, the internet businesses are ensuring a smooth experience for such existing and upcoming regional language customers to penetrate deeper into the semi-urban or rural market with increasing adoption of smartphones and affordable data. Following companies like Paytm, Amazon, etc., now global hotel and home accommodation company OYO has expanded its services in the Hindi language for customers booking on its app and mobile website. The company has also included other languages including Bahasa, Arabic, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

SoftBank-backed OYO saw around 40 per cent of its booking In June 2019 come from cities including Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Indore, Dehradun, Patna, Bhopal, Ghaziabad etc.the company said in a statement as it looks to cater to tier-II and tier-III users and growing vernacular internet user base.

“Vernacular language support helps you build credibility and confidence among people. Certainly, getting things in the language they are comfortable also gives users a sense of assurance and belonging. This is the right move as the problem with most of these (e-commerce) apps is that they don’t have a call centre for regional languages,” Navneet Nagpal, Principal Consultant and Founder at hospitality consulting firm Spectra Hospitality told Financial Express Online.

Even though unlike content-focused apps such as news and social networking, e-commerce apps involving discovery, browsing and ordering of goods might not have language as a key barrier for growth, but “there are terms and conditions, cancellations, reservations rules, which if available in the regional language, gives a certain level of assurity. This additional level of comfort needs to be arrived at if you are looking to cater to the next millions of customers,” said Nagpal.

The Indian language user base is likely to shoot up from 234 million in 2016 to 536 million in 2021 growing at 18 per cent CAGR vis-a-vis 175 million English language users in 2016 growing to 199 million in 2021, according to a 2017 study by KPMG and Google. The majority (201 million) of users would belong to Hindi followed by 51 million in Marathi, 42 million in Tamil, 32 million in Bengali, 31 million in Tamil etc.

“Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India and we believe that the language support makes us more accessible to our customers in tier-II and tier-III cities,” said Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology & Product Officer, OYO Hotels & Homes. The growth comes amid protests from hotel owners across the country over the past few months with recent protest from hotels in Pune over pending payments.

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