From Oberoi to Oyo: A compelling account of India's burgeoning hospitality industry

'From Oberoi to Oyo' by Penguin is a comprehensive account of the growth of the Indian hospitality industry. The author, Chitra Narayanan, who has been covering the Indian hospitality and tourism sector over the years for business media, makes it a refreshing and unputdownable read by packing in the incisive account of an industry watcher as well as sharing a series of personal experiences

Sanjiv Kataria Feb 19, 2020
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Author Chitra Narayanan
Rs 399 paperback
Rs 215 Kindle edition
319 pages

'From Oberoi to Oyo' by Penguin is a comprehensive account of the growth of the Indian hospitality industry. The author, Chitra Narayanan, who has been covering the Indian hospitality and tourism sector over the years for business media, makes it a refreshing and unputdownable read by packing in the incisive account of an industry watcher as well as sharing a series of personal experiences.

The book brought alive my own experiences of having stayed in government circuit houses, tourism department guest houses, YWCA hostels to many iconic properties of the Indian hospitality pioneer Taj Hotels, ITC and the state-run India Tourism Development Corporation.

A chapter that I particularly found interesting was a graphic account of character and style of hotel chains run by women leaders, in particular, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group run by Jyotsna Suri, and The Park Hotel chain run by Priya Paul. 

A chapter on the role of general managers on their role in making the property outshine others spells out the personal leadership qualities needed in addition to the qualities of head and heart. A touching account of how Karambir Kang, the hero of Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai 26/11/2008 terror attack saved lives of hundreds of guests while he lost his wife and two young children, who stayed in the property.

During a recent visit to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Mumbai I was reminded of Karambir Kang’s ‘duty before self’ spirit on sighting the memorial wall with names of those who perished in the 2008 terror attack. Names of Karambir Kang's wife Neeti and sons Samar and Udai stood out.

This is a must-read book for those looking to make a career in hotel management. The book provides insights into the exciting, glamorous and tough life and the disruptions the industry is currently facing. Be it the domination of foreign hotel chains, the emergence of online travel agencies or the arrival of young upstarts, the disruptions faced by the legacy hoteliers are well documented.

What a change from the days when I booked YMCA Ooty for our honeymoon in early 1980s by sending an advance of Rs 25 via postal orders over snail mail.

I hope this book inspires a new generation of young Indians to pursue a career in hospitality services and follow the dictum of providing personalised service experience to guests—so much lacking today in many new hotels. I also hope the author includes an index in the next edition of the book.

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