Real-Estate comes Aboard the Tech Train

Maninder Gulati, Chief Strategy Officer – OYO

"Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” - many folks reference a no­tion similar to one expressed by Mr. Franklin D Roosevelt when it comes to investing in real estate. However, identi­fying and purchasing a piece of real estate, be it residential or commercial, is the simpler part of the process. Once an asset is acquired, the real work of refurbishing interi­ors, kitting the rooms and maintaining the place properly begins. While property purchase is a one-off task, mainte­nance and upkeep is a perennial, long-term activity.

The opportunity

Asset owners face multiple challenges if they seek to ensure optimal yield on the real estate investment via rental or sale value. Driving optimal yield requires strategic thinking, business acumen and financial capital. Not all individuals are cut out for this task and it is also a burden on time and resources.

This is where asset management companies can help. Unlike existing incumbents that focus solely on monetisa­tion of a real-estate asset, new-age asset-management com­panies are also able to assist with maintenance and upkeep. They undertake such services for existing hotels, real estate developers, property investors and families with second or holiday homes. If the property needs to be refurbished or upgraded, the asset management firm can facilitate access to hassle-free loans from a financial institution. The com­pany can also provide skilled workforce to service guests of the hotel/ holiday home or residents of the developer’s property. Besides being trained in the systems and processes of property management, the staff is adept in soft skills and trained in customer-service and managing guest ex­pectation.

Subsequently, the hotel or holiday home is trans­formed into an exciting, thriving space to reside, stay temporarily or conduct business in. Once the property is upgraded, a steady flow of guests is assured. In turn, bet­ter quality living spaces or modern hospitality infrastruc­ture ensures more monthly rentals or higher room tariffs.

Faster, Better, Smarter

In the entire process from audit to construction or repair and finally marketing, technology deployment ensures that tasks are undertaken speedily, professionally and at lower costs than through traditional means. For example, smart meters can be deployed in each room of the hotel or property. Regular power usage can then be monitored automatically. Electricity can be used more efficiently where required, with smart sensors switching off lights, fans, TVs, etc. in temporarily unoccupied rooms.

For hotels or holiday homes, technology again plays a major role in attracting guests and facilitating enjoy­able experiences. Apps are used to manage operations more efficiently, reception-less check-ins and checkouts of guests and prompt confirmation of booking, on-demand services and pay-on-arrival.

By deploying apps and other digital technologies, the speed of services improves greatly. The impact of technol­ogy in transforming hotels or homes and driving bet­ter returns is tremendous. Homes or hotels that may be locked or rundown can be made operational, fully func­tional and upscale. Through professional management of assets, these properties then acquire a modern, refreshing look and ambience that increases their valuations as well as visual appeal. Homeowners and hoteliers benefit from the higher revenues.

OYO - India’s largest brand of hotels, works closely with owners to upgrade their current space and establish en­hanced functional aesthetics making their properties more beautiful and comfortable through OYO Asset Manage­ment. The revenue-sharing model helps owners in receiving high returns compared to standalone rentals. There is also a dedicated representative or Captain who visits the home regularly to ensure proper upkeep and checking about the guests and responding to their needs.

Digital technologies provide real-time updates to prop­erty owners. Demand-and-supply cycles can then be ex­ploited meaningfully to compensate for lean period slumps by using dynamic pricing during peak periods. The asset management companies are also in a position to deploy Big Data in building comprehensive profiles of regular and in­frequent visitors. Data analytics can be used to understand the guest’s preferences on various parameters. Analysis of this data makes it possible for the asset management team to offer more personalised services to guests, driving greater customer satisfaction. As a result, guest loyalty is bound to increase.

Given the swift rise of technology, specialised asset man­agement companies will be driving enhanced usage of smart technologies, the Cloud, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence) for faster transformation and greater guest satisfaction in future. Indeed, modern-day real-estate talent is a combination of skilled businessmen and smart data scientists as they optimise the returns from the asset under their purview.