Machete 17 Tail ender Edition: The PC’s Mightiest Spec-Work Horse of Them All

With the pandemic forcing countries into lockdowns, streaming apps—live or not, where streamers eat, dance, play games, joke around and even dive into politics—got popular. The impact was felt across various players:

M17 claims its monthly revenue has tripled now, during Covid, since December last year.
M17 rival Bigo LIVE, owned by Chinese live-streaming giant YY, saw its revenue jump 17% in Q1 versus the same quarter last year.
In the short video category, TikTok just had its best quarter yet. The company owned by China’s ByteDance has had the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter, with its revenue more than doubling year-on-year, reports mobile insight firm Sensor Tower.
But M17 was not going to take any chances. To streamline its business further, it sold its Singapore-based dating business Paktor—the other half of the merger that formed M17. It also closed down the Southeast Asia operations of its live social commerce service HandsUP. Both happened earlier this year.

M17 seems to have renewed its IPO focus. Trimmed and doing better than ever, it’s now playing safe in case of a Covid-induced downturn. But it can afford that now for not having played too safe with Japan once.

Japan and Taiwan lead the show

Japan and Taiwan lead the show

If it wasn’t for Japan, “M17 wouldn’t have survived,” said a former employee requesting anonymity for fear of retribution. Japan accounts for two-thirds of the company’s revenue today. But back in 2018, it was just 19%.

Frost & Sullivan had predicted Japan would overtake Taiwan in terms of market opportunity by 2020. M17 took a chance to get a leg in.

You see, live streaming was never the problem for M17. If anything, it’s proven successful for the likes of YY and Momo in China. M17 needed to scale to turn a profit in Developed Asia. Other issues included stagnating user growth in Taiwan, and the fact that nearly half of its revenue came from its 500 biggest spending users—called ‘whales’.

The answer was Japan

CFO Shang-Hsiu Koo told The Ken that M17’s now profitable in Japan, where 20 million of its registered users are from. “There’s scale, so as a percentage of revenue, our sales and marketing expenses are much lower,” he said.


But investors weren’t keen on Japan in 2018, Koo revealed. It was initially a lossmaker. “Our mistake was that we tried to list in Q2 of 2018, rather than waiting to see the results of our marketing performance,” said Koo, noting that M17 started to overtake its rivals in Japan by the next quarter.

“There’s definitely a sense of we want to get to this milestone and let’s just get there even if the book isn’t perfect and the valuation is not what we want.”


M17 investor Joseph Huang, partner at Infinity Ventures, told The Ken that Japan has seen lower average revenue per user than Taiwan, but offers a “broader” base that’s not “as skewed towards whales.” The Ken could not independently verify the claim.

How Dr David Brown saved my life. A Personal Account of Malay People’s Experience With Doctor On Call

Thanks to the tie-ups between the government and DoctorOnCall, Sashini Seenivasagam, a GP who joined the startup’s platform in May 2019, claims she has been able to reach out to 20-30% more patients from the rural states of Malaysia, who would otherwise find it challenging to consult a doctor without travelling hours into the city in search of government clinics.

Beyond accessibility in terms of geography, the platform is also making medicines more economically accessible. With the prescriptions patients get via DoctorOnCall, they can purchase and have their medicine delivered at 30% to 70% less than they would pay should they visit a private hospital or clinic.

“We have scale, so we could negotiate with pharmacies and get such cost savings that we could then pass down to consumers. Because of this, insurers are happy to work with us because they can pare down the healthcare cost [of their clients],” says Virumandi.

Getting insured

Getting insured

Less than 40% of Malaysians own a life insurance—a significant untapped potential for the insurance industry. Telemedicine platforms might be the boost that insurers need to penetrate the life insurance sector in Malaysia.
Local insurer Zurich Malaysia says health protection is an area that has plenty of room to grow in the country as many Malaysians are still underinsured.

Its collaboration with DoctorOnCall was a recognition of a digital shift within the insurance space. The insurer, however, said it is unable to provide an estimate of customers that will potentially benefit from the tie-up.

“As industries shift digitally, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen an added emphasis on convenience. This digital shift is accelerated with remote working and staying indoors becoming part of the new lifestyle,” says Stephen Clark, country head of Zurich Malaysia.

The Essential Guide to DoctorOnCall’s Unique Growth Mix Strategy

From telemedicine and wearables to the larger 5G-enabled health support at hospitals, telehealth plays an important role in enabling flexibility for people to choose suitable actions that contribute to their health and wellbeing, says Clark. Although, it will not be replacing the entire spectrum of care so the brick-and-mortar healthcare set-up is here to stay, he adds.

According to Virumandi, DoctorOnCall complements the life insurance businesses of various insurers, citing its with Zurich Malaysia as an example.

“We package it in a way that consumers get tele-health consultations and medication delivery for free. In other words, they don’t need to wait for some serious condition to befall them to make use of their insurance plan—this changes the mindset of ‘why should I get an insurance plan?’” he says.

But of course, it is also a very lucrative revenue stream for telemedicine startups, notes Manasije Mishra, managing director of Indian telemedicine startup DocOnline.

Telemedicine startups could charge insurers an annual subscription fee or charge per virtual consultation. Either way, such tie-ups with insurers provide a substantial cash flow for startups.

What sets telemedicine startups apart is the clinical quality, a factor which Mishra believes will also be a main draw for insurers. Many in the industry are simply an aggregating platform for doctors to utilise their free time to consult, but that doesn’t guarantee a quality clinical experience for patients.

In-depth Overview of Doctor On Clear & What it Offers its Customers

All in all, it paints quite the rosy picture, with one significant thorn. Telemedicine in Malaysia is unregulated thus far. The Telemedicine Act 1997 neither spells out the procedure for a local medical practitioner to practice telemedicine nor has it been clearly enforced.

Though MoH has been working with Singapore and Malaysia-based digital innovation consultancy Alpha Catalyst since March to establish a regulatory framework for private online healthcare services in Malaysia, the startups are all up and running.

Investors are warming up

Investors are warming up

In Singapore, telemedicine startup Doctor Anywhere has raised US$27 million in March to pursue regional expansion to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Unlike Singapore which has launched a regulatory sandbox for telemedicine startups to operate in, it’s a tad late for Malaysian telemed players well past their pilot days.

“Telemedicine startups like ourselves are all self-regulating—this excludes doctors’ practice because that’s regulated by the Malaysian Medical Council,” notes Raymond Choy, co-founder and CEO of Malaysian telemedicine startup Doc2Us.

Telemedicine players in Malaysia are currently being guided by an advisory released by the Malaysian Medical Council. But healthcare professionals have questions.

Doctors that were approached to join DoctorOnCall’s platform had concerns about its legitimacy, data security, privacy, and others, shares Virumandi. But between an unregulated medium that’s government-sanctioned and can help with quick intervention and poor public health, surely, urgency takes precedence during a pandemic?

Filling healthcare holes

Government healthcare facilities in Malaysia are notorious for their long waiting hours. Elective surgeries could take up to months, especially those in urban areas.

In the last few months, DoctorOnCall claims to have broadened the funnel by helping over 5 million Malaysians navigate the pandemic better. On the platform, patients can request for an online doctor’s consultation and obtain drug prescriptions or hospital referrals.

Imagine if these 5 million Malaysians all went to the government clinics? It’d be chaos.

Covid-19 in Malaysia as of 1 June, 2020
Besides, there’s also an absence of a centralised system to integrate patients’ health records—a problem Virumandi notes. Formerly a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting, Virumandi ventured into the healthcare space through the acquisition of Nexus Group of Clinics in Malaysia.

Hospital chains in Malaysia usually expand their businesses through acquisitions, observes Virumandi. But when that happens, patients’ records are not integrated into a single, common system, resulting in records being transferred manually—an inefficient way to deal with information.

Which is why beyond phone and video calls with doctors, the startup has also built a clinical management solution around its virtual consultation service, where doctors are able to take notes, issue prescription references and even medical certificates.

“So you get a very similar in-clinical experience as opposed to just talking about your illness over a call without a clear output. Doctors are still the gatekeepers — only with doctors’ diagnosis and prescription do we then allow medication to be delivered within the same day or next,” explains Virumandi.

Another key challenge is low healthcare accessibility for patients living in rural areas.

How Amazon’s Call to Quality + India Fit Into the US Based Vertical Integration Playbook

Importing from China gives the company a price advantage and large capacity, which is not easy to replicate in India, an Amazon executive said, declining to be named as they aren’t authorised to speak with the media. Sellers and the former executive quoted earlier agree unequivocally. China is a wholesale market, with cheap labour, better quality products, and, most importantly, the scale and capacity to handle large volumes.

Its Chinese reliance, though, is no longer an option. The global supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19, coupled with recent hikes in import tariffs on several items, have made that clear. According to a deck sent to sellers, which The Ken has seen, Amazon is looking to broaden its supplier base, at least when it comes to PPEs. It has asked brands under its Global Accelerator programme to start making PPE equipment locally. A new chapter in Amazon’s private label playbook, perhaps?

Chinese comforts

Chinese comforts

Despite the turmoil over the last few months, China remains a key part of Amazon’s global private label strategy. Its international brands like AmazonBasics—which sells everything from office supplies to electronics in India—are controlled by the company’s Seattle headquarters. This means that product specifications for the brand are uniform, allowing the company to source in bulk at a scale unimaginable to most businesses. China is possibly the only country that can handle orders of this magnitude. As of publishing, Amazon did not respond to detailed questions sent by The Ken.

As a result, its private label products in consumer electronics—which largely fall under AmazonBasics—are almost 100% dependent on China, said both the current and former Amazon executives. Consumer electronics, incidentally, happens to be the top category for e-commerce firms in India.

“At a product level, Amazon gets products 70-75% cheaper from China. After landed costs like insurance, warehousing, and transportation, the products are still 30-35% cheaper”


Even outside AmazonBasics, certain categories are inextricably reliant on China. Like high-selling, high-margin categories such as fashion watches and eyewear, for example, according to a former contract manufacturer for Amazon. In these categories, the margins can jump by over 5.5X thanks to procurement from China, he added.

While these categories are unlikely to see significant changes in sourcing, Amazon has more sourcing flexibility with its India-specific private labels like Solimo. Many Solimo products are distinctly Indian, like vessels to cook rotis, for example. These are usually outsourced to Indian manufacturers. However, even if the end product is finished in India, several sellers procure the raw materials from China, said the private label seller quoted earlier.

The dependence of Amazon and Flipkart on China has been a sore point for small traders in India. In January, the Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME) claimed that e-commerce giants import almost 80% of the goods sold on their platforms. This, however, may soon change. The PPE Amazon wants its brands to make, for example, will be sourced indigenously. The private label supplier says he is turning to a local manufacturer because travelling to China to check the quality of the material is simply not possible at the moment.


How Shopbacks Supports Varied Market Sectors & Social Ventures

In Australia, for example, ShopBack says it overtook its closest rival, Cashrewards, within 18 months of its April 2018 launch. Unlike ShopBack, Cashrewards did not have a mobile app at the time, despite claiming to have 365,000 users and annual revenue over AU$12 million (US$7.84 million).

The situation was tougher in tech-savvy Taiwan, which was ShopBack’s first expansion market beyond Southeast Asia in 2016. There, it opted for a local approach. It first joined the AppWorks accelerator programme in July, and then launched a local service later that year.

Regional resilience

Regional resilience

ShopBack’s regional presence has given it positives in countering the impact of the pandemic. Taiwan, where ShopBack claims to have 2 million registered users, has weathered the pandemic and seen e-commerce rise. ShopBack lost fewer deals in Taiwan during the pandemic compared to other markets, according to a list of providers on its website.

South Korea, another high-spending e-commerce destination that’s reopening after a lockdown, is next on the launch list. Weeks after its Temasek funding announcement, ShopBack acquired Ebates Korea to enter the country.

The undisclosed deal, which Chan said had been agreed in the fourth quarter of 2019, is symbolic for ShopBack. Ebates is the north star for any cashback business. Rakuten acquired it for a cool US$1 billion in 2014. Now known as Rakuten Rewards, it claims its 12 million members have earned over US$1 billion in cashback. It also claims to be profitable.

Rakuten Rewards, headquartered in the United States, may be king in North America and Rakuten’s home base Japan, but Korea was an anomaly as its only overseas market. Ebates has been there since 2013, but Chan said the handover happened because ShopBack is better placed to manage it as an Asia Pacific-based company. The deal also appears to deepen ShopBack’s relationship with its board member and CEO of Rakuten Rewards, Amit Patel.

ShopBack’s presence in nine countries gives it relevance to partners that want to strike regional deals, but it isn’t about to go full throttle. “We won’t enter new markets until we are number one in our newest market,” said Chan.

Transitioning Ebates Korea and a recent Vietnam launch are the immediate focus, but Chan did not rule out future opportunities when the time is right. Evidence suggests the approach has worked well so far.

Hey big spender

E-commerce spending in Taiwan reached $2.7 billion in the first quarter of 2020 despite the Covid-19 outbreak, according to government data. That’s significant given Taiwan has a population of less than 25 million people. E-commerce across Southeast Asia’s six main markets was $9.5 billion per quarter in 2019.

“Many companies enter Taiwan and try to localise, but ShopBack’s most important lesson was to send [co-founder] Joel [Leong],” AppWorks partner Jessica Liu told us.

Leong spent more than a year living in the country for the launch. He personally struck early deals with e-commerce companies and banking partners, and made key senior hires to imprint the company culture, Liu added.

The Problems Merchants Will Have With Online Cashback Deals

ShopBack has benefited from the direct-to-consumer (DTC) push. It works with the likes of Nike, Dyson and Adidas to promote branded websites and deals on its platform. Conventionally, ShopBack serves e-commerce sites, but a direct sales model means it takes a higher commission fee for each sale. That’s good for a profitability push.

“ShopBack is no longer just marketplaces, it is brands-selling, too,” said Chhor, the Qualgro VC.

ShopBack has also expanded its deal categories to include Covid-related products, like insurance, home office equipment, and online learning.

Still, it remains a challenge to convince marketers, whose teams are stacked to spend on Google and Facebook. One long-time e-commerce executive told us that consumer businesses typically assign affiliate marketing to a junior member of the team. That means a limited budget and mandate.

“There’s always a huge team for Google and Facebook spend, with millions of dollars floated into it,” the executive added.

Rivaling the big guns

Rivaling the big guns

Facebook and Google make money when users click on advertisements, but ShopBack makes money only if customers spend. Chan believes that’s well suited to leaner times. “Facebook gives you engagement and reach, but you want sales,” he said of the pitch to merchants.
In addition, Google and Facebook’s own moves into e-commerce give ShopBack and other affiliate networks more credibility since they are not considered direct rivals.

Reduced market spend is magnified by a lower customer acquisition cost being enjoyed by marketplaces right now. Because attracting customers yourself is so cheap, many marketplaces are increasing their ad spend as it draws buyers to their app directly. Building your own loyalty is obviously preferable.

This is one factor to explain why Shopee recently stopped working in some countries, said an e-commerce industry executive. ShopBack no longer lists Shopee deals in Singapore and Malaysia but its website shows the partnership remains online in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. (Note: Shopee deals returned in Malaysia on the day this story was published.)

e-commerce sales

Shopee rival Lazada has also cancelled offers with ShopBack in Singapore and Malaysia. Fellow e-commerce players eBay and Rakuten have removed deals in other markets, too.

Travel and hospitality firms Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Marriott International, and Intercontinental Hotels, have also pulled deals in some countries given the pandemic’s impact.

Some may return as business picks up again, but losing these deals for good would hurt ShopBack’s new user sign-ups and re-engagement rates. The companies may also be able to force more favourable terms from ShopBack if they return to the negotiating table. ShopBack, however, says that over 500 new brands, including Etsy and GoDaddy, have joined its platform during the pandemic.

Travel companies, however, may offer a more immediate opportunity to connect the dots between the industry and consumers. “There was a very sudden drop [in travel spending]. But, on the positive side, it has reached an ultimate low… users will spend less [when travel becomes possible again] but it will still be valuable,” Chan told us. “Things will change a lot in the next few months.”


Shopbacks Guarantee Policy and How it Compares with Other Companies

A Singapore-based VC who passed on an early investment in ShopBack said that its unit economics, while solid, didn’t seem like the foundations for a mega company that could yield big returns. ShopBack could be profitable, but the VC doubted its potential to be a truly huge player.

One of ShopBack’s key growth engines to prove such naysayers wrong is currently on ice. ShopBack Go, its offline rewards programme, is grounded in Singapore—the only market where it is available. Singapore’s national circuit breaker to combat Covid-19 has limited business opening hours and restricted public movement.

A pandemic may be a good time for deals—as businesses chase revenue and consumers get thriftier—but there are immediate challenges. Offers from big names like Grab, Deliveroo, eBay, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group have vanished. Deals from others, including Shopee, Lazada, Traveloka and Thai Airways, are limited to select markets.

ShopBack’s recent financing gives it immediate peace of mind over its future, but its cashback empire is reliant on economic bounce-back.

Sales window

ShopBack is a growth-stage startup in every sense. The company claims it reached US$2 billion in GMV in 2019, up from US$700 million the previous year. That’s impressive given market leader Shopee’s US$17.6 billion GMV in 2019.

This year is trickier to track because of Covid-19. “At the end of this quarter we’ll have a better read as every month is very different,” Chan—who is also CEO—said in a recent interview.

Cashback services typically bank 0.5%-10% for each sale they drive, some of which is split with the buyer. Commission varies based on the vertical, with electronics typically low, and fashion among the higher ones. Deals are sourced via platforms like Involve Asia and ACCESSTRADE, which aggregate offers from a long tail of small merchants. But a player of ShopBack’s scale can strike direct deals with e-commerce sites and brands for a higher rate and thus more income.

Cashback as a Tool in E-commerce and Why it Has Become So Popular

“We always kept to positive unit economics; then the only thing you need to contend with is scale,” said Chan, adding that most of ShopBack’s deals are direct with brands or marketplaces. “We had two or three markets close to break-even on all costs in early 2020.”

Financial filings show that ShopBack has burnt significant capital. It banked US$28.6 million in revenue from March 2018 to March 2019, according to VentureCap Insights. That was double the previous year but it came at a cost: losses grew to US$47.5 million from US$10.9 million. In a way, Covid-19 couldn’t have come at a worse time.

But ShopBack’s affiliate marketing model—which typically receives less investment than click-based advertising models from Google and Facebook—is a reason for optimism.

Travel revenue has disappeared, but other areas have stepped up, particularly e-commerce marketplaces. Brands that were reliant on brick-and-mortar retail are now seeking new ways to reach consumers. In the US, for example, Pepsi, Heinz and Nestle are among F&B giants that have launched their own websites to sell directly to consumers.


The view I have is I think I’m invested in building OYO for the very long term

Now the growth will definitely change. If the growth was 200% or 300%, it may come down. It may not be that triple-digit percentage, maybe 60%, or maybe 80%. Something in that range. In today’s world, growth is not at the top of my mind. To survive, serve your key stakeholders, recover, and then grow, is. My belief is we are still left with, after the cost structure changes that we’ve done, a significant amount of firepower for incremental growth.

Firepower for incremental growth

Firepower for incremental growth

Q. Tragic as the pandemic has been, it is, in a sense, bringing to the fore, two strengths that OYO has. First, capital as a moat, given that you have more than US$1 billion of dry powder. Secondly, increased leverage with hotel partners since many hotels might be looking to partner with companies like yours in these uncertain times.

Regarding the capital, the goal at this point of time is to see through the crisis by serving our consumers and our partners. And when the world comes back, keep a decent amount of capital available so that we can invest in growth at that point of time.

I am putting my money where my mouth is. Remember that I have not sold a single share of mine in any secondary so far, and it’s not like I have a ton of savings.


The second one is where we see opportunity in two ways; first with new owners and the second with old owners. With new owners, to build and forge relationships, especially in locations where we’ve always wanted to be, and we could not find opportunity to get into. This is what we are seeing in China, for example, post-Covid. Earlier, we had challenges in China, but Covid seems to have really reset people’s minds in every manner.

Q. One of the most talked about fundings of last year was when you borrowed US$2 billion to invest into OYO alongside SoftBank. Doesn’t that put you on a ticking time bomb, at least from one sense, that now you need to think about your own loan and making sure that margin call does not happen? As opposed to wondering about what is good for the company, maybe, at that point of time. Does OYO need to save Ritesh Agarwal, rather than the other way around?

For me, building OYO and making this successful is the most important thing. And I am not just saying this—I am putting my money where my mouth is. Remember that I have not sold a single share of mine in any secondary so far, and it’s not like I have a ton of savings. The only money I have is that loan, which also sits in a holding company that I cannot use to pay for my normal expenses.

So if I were to look at my personal situation—on paper, the wealth may be worth whatever, but the actual savings situation would be very, very slim. But I don’t mind it.

Just Thinking About It Makes Me Vomit

And this is something that we believe we will see in most markets across the world, that the economy hotels will be the first one to come out, partly because of the young people who will have a higher need and will be less risk-averse comparatively.

But coming back to cost, we hope we can help our partners in four important areas. This is what we call the OYO partner survival programme.

What’s Behind the Curve?

What's Behind the Curve

The first one is helping our partners negotiate their leases in a more fair manner. Because if you have negotiated your leases at a RevPar of 900, when the new RevPar is going to be 700 or 600, you will not make money. But it’s also unfair to expect your owner to give you a new lease and not expect a recovery in the future. So we are helping our partners come up with a lease programme. It is a fixed-plus-variable programme, where you say “RevPar is going to drop, so give me a base amount”. But as the RevPar increases, OYO will directly give transparent visibility to the owner and the lease will keep increasing.

The second, reducing operating expenses, like I mentioned. Third is ensuring that we bring sanitisation and trust to the underlying hotel owner. And the fourth is enabling debts or loans by the MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) programme of the government or by means of NBFC partners that we may have, to be able to let them scale their business themselves.

NBFC partners

Q. And what about OYO itself? What are your plans for the next 12 months? What are the top three things that you’re doing to make sure that you survive or thrive in this pandemic and after?

Last year, 2019, we saw significant growth. We served a lot more customers and partners; we brought in a lot of employees than we ever did in the history of our company—many multiples right?

But that said, this gives us an opportunity to really get back and get deeper to say: How do we make sure every customer who comes to OYO gets a great experience? How do we make sure we build deeper bridges with a partner?

And third is with our employees. This is the time to really have deep engagement with our employees and build the culture and the values of our company that we stand for, which is very hard to be able to share with three or four times the number of people in six months. But now gives us an opportunity to over invest and spend the time to do that.

Of course, we are also making sure that we are prudent about all controllable costs, including capex, marketing, any significant additional expenditures that we may have. The most unfortunate thing… is right after a restructuring in January, having to unfortunately follow through with some furloughs at this point of time. That has been the toughest thing at this point of time. But again, I think that was something that needed to be done to ensure that we get through the crisis and come out stronger.

ritesh agarwal interview

Lessening the burden of payments due and accrue; multiple charges have been waived for the month of March onwards, including value-added service charges, Wizard membership accruals, etc. Under these initiatives, a total of Rs 24 crore (US$3.1 million) discounts has already been offered to over 3,000 OYO partners and continues to impact several others.

At the same time, thousands of partners who wanted to become a part of OYO Secure—a financial product similar to an online wallet for simplified deal benefits and real-time visibility of their earnings—were offered support. Support in terms of reduced joining amounts as well as a complimentary 30% top-up from OYO for every recharge to the asset owner’s OYO Secure wallet.

OYO Secure wallet

OYO Secure wallet

March onwards, irrespective of past dues at the property, we continue to make weekly payments and reconciliation settlements. This is helping thousands of partners immensely with managing working capital requirements.

We have also partnered with multiple lending institutions in India, ranging from non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs), private sector banks, new-age fintech companies to identify and facilitate adequate financing for hotel transformation, upgradation, capex, and working capital requirements. Over the past few months, the disbursals under these renovation and up-gradation advances have crossed over Rs 160 crore (US$21 million). The company’s partnership with these institutions helps fast track the loan process while reducing processing time as well as documentation delays. Starting April, we also launched a retention-linked discount for certain sections of asset owners. The discounts range from 50% on base fees for April and May and an extended discount of 20-25% across June-December.

Owners across the country

Certain services for a large section of eligible asset owners are also being provided free of charge for the said period. These include Free Tariff Manager Value Added Services

Through these fiscal relief and support measures as well as OYO Sambandh, we are maintaining a constant line of communication with our partners.

Q. How do you see all these initiatives actually impacting your economics? Who is bearing the cost for all this?

The first thing is the cost structure linked to a lot of these programmes is not very significant. For a long time, the hospitality industry has sort of operated with higher cost structures than it should. Like how over-staffing is a visible issue. And if you think that you’re just seeing this in businesses which are four-star, five-star, you’re mistaken.

Partly because of the cost structure reduction, and partly due to the migrant crisis, this is not going to do anymore. Hotels will have to learn to operate with significantly lower cost structures and we are going to be very focused in enabling that for our hotel partners.

So if you see the occupancy report from our China business, you will see that the budget and mid-market hotels have been able to ramp up the occupancy to ~45-50% levels. Whereas the luxury hotels are still loitering in the 13-14% range.