‘Hotel market evolving from a mass-tourist industry to a more refined and mature one’: Shruti Shibulal

The CEO of Tamara Leisure Experiences speaks about the hotel’s expansion plans and the revival of the corporate segment.

Corporate travel has been in a slumber since the pandemic hit. With the threat of third wave looming large, the future of corporate travel seems uncertain. Sharing similar sentiment, Shruti Shibulal, CEO, Tamara Leisure Experiences, says that their business hotel brand, O By Tamara, for whom corporate business is one of the most profitable segments, had to deal with far fewer occupancy contributions from the corporate and MICE segments during the pandemic. “Going forward, their focus will be on creating demand for these events through the weddings vertical,” she says. 

On which segment of business generates the maximum revenues and profit for the group, Shibulal says that they have seen a significant shift in the contribution from retail in the last year-and-a-half, with direct retail increasingly forming over 52% per cent as compared to 39% last year, adding that most of their guests book experiential holidays at the resorts. “The other complete shift is the domestic market. Domestic leisure has always been an essential part of our strategy. This is a clear sign that the hotel market is evolving from a mass-tourist industry to a more refined and mature one,” she says. 

On the aspect of the ratio of business from third-party travel portals vis a vis their own bookings, Shibulal says that it depends on the business. 

At Tamara Resorts, our direct business is almost double that of third-party travel portals. So we have about 56% of our revenues coming through direct business while online travel agencies contribute to about 28%. In contrast, at our business hotel brand O By Tamara, we rely on third party partnerships for 55% of our accommodation revenues while direct accounts for only 30%,” adding that one reason for this is that they have been seeing a decline in the corporate segment over the last 15 months,” she explains.

Despite slow turnings of corporate travel, expansion is on the cards for the group. Shibulal says they plan to expand their portfolio and launch an Ayurveda focussed wellness resort in Alleppey and a Lilac Hotel in Guruvayoor, both in Kerala. 

We consider our growth to be a great achievement, considering the pandemic’s impact on hospitality. This can be attributed to our positive and long-term commitment to building a world-class institution built on a foundation of responsible and memorable hospitality,” she concludes. 

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