‘Contactless Service has become the new norm’
In conversation with BW HOTELIER, Nagesh Chawla, Cluster General Manager, Renaissance Mumbai & Lakeside Chalet – Mumbai, Marriott Executive Apartments throws light upon the new schemes rolled out to ensure enhanced safety, the role of technology, added portfolio of food delivery and more.
After months of unprecedented lockdown, the hotels across Maharashtra are slowly getting back to business whilst incorporating some drastic changes across various spectrums of the hospitality business. In conversation with BW HOTELIER, Nagesh Chawla, Cluster General Manager, Renaissance Mumbai & Lakeside Chalet – Mumbai, Marriott Executive Apartments throws light upon the new schemes rolled out to ensure enhanced safety, the role of technology, added portfolio of food delivery, and more.
How do you view the state government’s order to resume operations in the hotels with 33 per cent inhabitancy?
These are unprecedented times and so we understand the predicament of the government and respect the gravitas of their decision. Though we would have wished to open our doors wide and welcome all our guests, we understand that this would not be prudent under the given circumstance. However, 33 per cent occupancy is a welcome start. Located on the scenic banks of the Powai lake we are the preferred choice for staycations and drivecations. With intercity travel still slow and people needing a getaway from home, we are confident that Mumbai residents identifying with our high safety measures and hygiene standards will opt to holiday with us.
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet, and the problem of extreme rainfall is being witnessed in Mumbai. How are you approaching handling both?
Mumbai is actually quite gorgeous in the monsoons. Renaissance Mumbai offers front row seats to the performance of the raindrops serenading the sky as you overlook the tranquil waters of the Powai lake - truly a breathtaking sight. This year the lockdown has posed a challenge as our regular patrons were unable to visit the hotel. We have used this time however to revisit our offerings and launch innovations, considering the guest and our associates’ safety as paramount.
Kindly enlighten us regarding the new contactless and on-ground plans made by Marriott to guarantee the wellbeing of the visitors with the announcement of the new staycation package.
The safety and well-being for our guests and associates has always been a top priority. To provide a contactless experience for our guests, a number of initiatives have been implemented. We have enhanced technologies including electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces throughout the property. We have added rigorous cleaning protocols. To help alleviate the risk of transmission we will be using signage in our lobbies to continually remind guests of maintaining social distancing protocols. We have rearranged furniture to allow for more space for distancing. Guests are encouraged to use their phones to check in, access their rooms, make special requests and order room service that will be specially packaged and delivered right to the door without contact. Marriott International’s food safety program includes enhanced sanitation guidelines and training videos for all operational associates that includes hygiene and disinfecting practices. We have also modified our operational practices for in-room dining and are designing new approaches to buffets.
How do you plan on implementing the new hygiene and sanitation protocols that have been rolled out?
Marriott International has been a recognized hospitality leader for decades and Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel is a part of Marriott India’s largest multi-dimensional lifestyle complex in the heart of the city Mumbai. Our commitment to quality, exacting standards and training has been commended world over. We have rolled out a multi-pronged platform to elevate our cleanliness standards and hospitality norms and behaviors to meet the new health and safety challenges presented by the current pandemic environment.The Marriott Global Cleanliness Council along with scientific advice of experts have taken a thoughtful approach to set an even higher bar of cleanliness and develop new guest interaction protocols. Our focus is not just disinfection across the hotel, but providing a holistic approach designed to take care of our guests and associates. We have used the lockdown period to equip the hotel with all the necessary equipment and apparel required under the new regulations. We have also trained our staff on the required procedures be it at check-in, during housekeeping or dining. All our staff have been apprised and well acquainted with the necessary protocol.
What new strategies will be adopted by Marriott for the way forward to garner business?
We have resorted to using our home delivery through Marriott India's IP ‘Marriott On Wheels’ and have recently started safe and contact-less home delivery to ensure that our guests are seamlessly connected with us. We have worked on garnering deals and packages on staycations to let families choose when they would want to come and stay with us, while we have given them the flexibility of booking at discounted rates with our Save Now, Stay Later offer. This pandemic has made us prioritize that our life comes first and fathom the importance of family which in our otherwise fast-paced lives was impossible. We want our guests to understand that we realize it too and want to work on it being the perfect safe getaway for them. With the opening of the hotel, we will be focusing on local businesses. We have planned several initiatives for our guests which we are sure will receive an enthusiastic response.
At the same time with business gradually picking up we will initially be looking at short-stay business traffic. Renaissance Mumbai has been, since its inception, the preferred hotel for business or leisure and we have built up a loyal client base over the years. We have been in regular contact with our guests and have kept them apprised of our new safety measures. Confident of our service, our commitment to quality, and our high safety standards we are looking forward to welcoming our guests back to our hotel.
Tourism, weddings are some of the key drivers for revenue generation in the hospitality industry. How do you plan to recover the revenue gap in those areas?
Renaissance Mumbai is the favored brand for many international travelers. These travelers are accustomed to our high standards and know what they can expect from us. To incentivize international travel, once foreign traffic resumes, we will devise attractive packages that will bring back travelers to the city and help revive the tourism business.
Also, the hotel has been known for around two decades for being a MICE Venue with the largest convention centre and meeting spaces of over 1,30,000 sq ft. with an expansive outdoor area with the beguiling view of the Powai Lake complemented by the Hiranandani skyline, ours culminates as an oasis in the city that never sleeps.
It is a given, the pandemic has impacted our revenues drastically and conventions being the major revenue-generating driver, we have faced losses; however, we have identified alternate measures to recover and build on this gap created. We focused on our prime and strongest factor - the conventions with its spaces can comply with the government norms of social distancing.
My teams have left no stone unturned in utilizing this time to gauge the possibilities of alternates in terms of Food & Beverage requirements, Theme breaks, vendor management, and aligning them complying with the New Norm regulations. We have also identified virtual tours and site inspections for guests as an option to view our majestic complex property. The R.E.N Meetings App, which is a digital Meeting Services App has been created to ensure the meeting experience is a success. The app connects you simply and discreetly to our team of R.E.N. Meetings Experts at the drop of a hat before, during, and after your event; anytime, from anywhere.
We have resorted to using our home delivery through Marriott India's IP ‘Marriott On Wheels’ and have recently started safe and contact-less home delivery to ensure that our guests are seamlessly connected with us.
Fine dining which is the very heart of hospitality is now moving towards contactless dining. How is Marriott ensuring that the glamour and sheen of it remains intact whilst the new health and distancing concerns?
While resorting to luxury even, safety plays a key role and guests will tend to prefer in-room dining to sit in a restaurant with strangers from different domains, there is a need to ensure a seamless contact-less experience. To not only regain confidence, but also assure them at the same time that we care and we will do everything in our spectrum to ensure the delivery of the same. Nevertheless, we are working on getting our restaurants completely sanitized and deep cleaning measures are being undertaken so we are ready to welcome our guests when they are ready! From social distancing in restaurants to digitized menus and sanitized cutlery, we are guaranteeing each touchpoint is reviewed to ensure optimum safety.
With no signs of Covid19 subsiding anytime soon and people’s reluctance to step out from their homes, knowing that hygiene is more critical than it has ever been, when do you expect the hotels to bounce back to normalcy?
We have resorted to using our home delivery through Marriot India's IP ‘Marriott On Wheels’ and have recently started safe and contact-less home delivery to ensure that our guests are seamlessly connected with us. We have worked on garnering deals and packages on staycations to let families choose when they would want to come and stay with us, while we have given them the flexibility of booking at discounted rates with our Save Now, Stay Later offer. This pandemic has made us prioritize that our life comes first and fathom the importance of family which in our otherwise fast-paced lives was impossible. We want our guests to understand that we realize it too and want to work on it being the perfect safe getaway for them.
As new hygiene norms and standards have come into play, what training model did Marriott devise to instill the same in the staff for their everyday working?
Marriott Internationals’ global programme, ‘Commitment To Clean’ helped in paving our path to revolutionize the entire guest experience considering the protocols to ensure a 100 percent safe environment. There are modules under the umbrella of ‘Commitment To Clean’, which are specific to the Front Office, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping and Kitchen department and few modules are applicable to all associates across all functions of the hotel. Training of these modules are conducted and implemented with due diligence for all our associates before they resume work to ensure all protocols are carried out ensuring the safety of our associates and our guests.
From the guest’s arrival experience, room hygiene to the in-room dining and restaurant dining, we have taken into consideration each department and have trained them with the guidance of a Cleanliness Champion that we have identified for each function of the property. Our priority to always keep our guests and associates safe remains the same if not more and we do not entail to deter from it the least.
During the current global health crisis, what role do you think technology plays in helping hotels in their recovery?
Our primary attention is directed towards the digital front and improvisation in terms of complying with the new normal. With contactless service becoming the norm technology is indeed playing an imperative role in making our property safer for guests. All our clients, even post the pandemic, will be sensitive to health and hygiene standards. We have already introduced new technology to enhance our facilities and make them safer for our patrons. There are numerous takes on how we can best move forward and adapt to the changing circumstances. Albeit, our core belief in hospitality has always been to focus on serving others with a smile. The more the challenges, the better the understanding of how we need to deal with them, we are taking each day at a time and for those that we have found a solution for, we are dwelling and practicing to just make ourselves better in that paradigm.
Thinking long term, do you believe that hotels should invest more towards technology in the post COVID world?
Technology will definitely play a vital role in enhancing our guest offerings, increasing our efficiency and implementing our elevated hygiene and safety standards. Digital solutions too will be amplified to expand our reach, connect with customers and spread awareness with regards to the brand.
What are some of the key lessons and learning that the pandemic brought with it for the industry?
We all need to realize that our life is extremely important and that taking care of ourselves and our loved ones needs to come first, before anything else. We have individually seen a lot, but I am confident that each one has learnt a lot too. We have identified protocols, developed and set standard operating procedures, we have minimized contact and taken up digitization which is the way forward and tried our best to incorporate it in our way of life at the hotel. There is a new perspective coming about and we have managed to stand strong through a global pandemic and we are sure to move ahead stronger. It has also helped people reconnect with their loved ones, which they never could otherwise, and it has taught us to value others even more so now.
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