'Hoteliers must align their priorities to address the new aspirations'
In an exclusive conversation with BW HOTELIER, Amandeep Grover, General Manager of Hilton Goa Resort talks about the new opportunities and challenges faced by Goa as a market currently. He also highlights Hilton's unique guest experiences to create a 'home away from home'.
What changes do you think this pandemic has brought or I must say forced the hospitality sector in terms of running a hotel?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every industry, and the hospitality sector has altered the way it functions and operates. As domestic travel has started to pick up after the easing of lockdown guidelines, the industry has resolved to innovative measures to cater to the evolved demands and expectations of guests in the COVID era. Foremost being the increased responsibility towards ensuring guest safety and introducing the highest standard of safety and sanitization protocols along with cognizant social distancing measures. For this, Hotels have introduced significant design changes along with digital technologies and solutions to facilitate their services and functions to run smoothly. What we have tirelessly worked towards is to retain the brand ethos and its signature hospitality to keep the spirit of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts alive. Experience remains central to our offerings and we are committed to prioritizing and enhancing guests' stay every step of the way.
During such challenging times, Hilton has launched a new property. How do you plan to function seamlessly in the new world order?
We have opened doors to our property in line with the Government guidelines and after having all safety protocols in place. Hilton is the pioneer in the contactless check-in with its Digital Key initiative, which was introduced much before this became a norm. At Hilton Goa, we have double-down on our award-winning technology to extend a contactless arrival. We understand that guests have great expectations from their travel. After being homebound for most of the year, they are looking for family travel destinations, safe stay options, and new experiences that also include staying in new and different properties. Our unique hilltop location gives us an edge over other properties in Goa as it offers extraordinary views of Goa and experiences relevant to family travel. The focus has been on making the in-property experiences stronger as we understand guests want to spend more time inside the property. Looking at this trend, we have curated activities for guests across all age groups. From culinary workshops, cocktail/mocktail sessions, @ Your Balcony experiences, curated local Goan experiences, kids interactive classes and many more where guests can learn and also unlearn a great deal at Hilton Goa.
What are the challenges and opportunities that Goa as market presents currently?
Goa is an all-year-round property that is abuzz with tourists. Goa has seen a huge uptick in demand as travelers across the country prefer Goa as their post lockdown travel destination. Also with International travel yet to pick up we foresee this demand to remain strong till March next year. We are also seeing an increase in business travel as people are opting for work from hotels and combining work and leisure. So the opportunities are massive for established brands like ours. However, amidst the new normal where Covid still poses a challenge, the ever evolving Government regulations across states are a deterrent for the hospitality industry that discourages travel.
We understand that you are the champion for sustainable initiatives. Can you let us know the sustainability aspects and initiatives that the new property exemplify?
I am very passionate about sustainability issues and have been part of the Travel with Purpose team for the past 4 years. As part of this initiative during the lockdown we in India contributed 1000 relief kits across 4 states (Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra). The relief kit included essential supplies and Covid-19 safety protection kit. We have now joined hands for Hilton Goa Resort with Tribal Threads India which is a new fabric and sewing initiative. This is of one of the development initiatives that are deep-rooted and truly meaningful for our beneficiary communities in the tribal villages of India. The product includes a set off three hand stitched facemasks. The revenues generated from this will be given back to the rural tribal community.
How different is the guest today? What sort of guest-facing initiatives launched?
The guest today is impacted and influenced by COVID-19, thus, what was relevant yesterday in pre-COVID times now needs to be attuned to meet their changing needs. Hoteliers must align their priorities to address the new aspirations, around safety, health, and experience, which in turn will foster stronger guest relationships and loyalty.
As guests prefer staycations and short-haul trips, we have launched our staycation package with Great Small Breaks that includes complimentary breakfast, resort credit, a unique Goan Masterclass experience, and a 20 per cent discount on food and beverage and laundry. With guests looking to spending more time in the comforts of their room, we have introduced @YourBalcony experiences to bring all the distinct experiences right on the balcony of your guestroom. This includes wine tasting, yoga sessions, BBQ, cocktail making, and culinary masterclasses curated by the expert team at Hilton Goa. Extending flexibility, through the Hilton Honors app and award-winning Digital Key technology, we offer our guests the option for a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key, and check-out using their mobile devices through the mobile app. These and many more initiatives have been introduced to address guest expectations and requirements in times of COVID.
Restaurants and fine dining have been a must-have for any hotel of good standing, but now it seems in-room dining will be preferred by in house guests. How do plan to run the operations smoothly keeping the new norms in mind?
Hilton Goa Resort offers three unique destinations for food and beverage options. Guests can relax at @Saipe, the all-day dining multi-cuisine restaurant offering a pool view. There is Doce which is our coffee lounge and Coco is a transformative high-octane bar and restaurant that features a Mediterranean- inspired menu. All these options are distinct and offer a great dining experience. Having said that, an equal focus is laid down on enhancing the in-room dining experience, and our culinary team on request craft extraordinary food events as part of @YourBalcony experiences. We also have deployed strict guidelines for contactless food delivery for complete assurance of a great in-room experience.
Which all new technology and innovation have the hotel adopted to maintain social distancing?
We understand that our guests’ expectations for cleaning and disinfection have changed. Towards this Hilton globally has partnered with RB, makers of Lysol® & Dettol®*, to help deliver the highest standards of cleanliness to our guests with the creation of the Hilton CleanStay program. The program provides complete peace of mind to guests when staying at Hilton Goa Resort. All common areas and public access rooms promote social distancing and require guests to wear masks. We have also customized and deployed contactless temperature screening and hand sanitizer stations for effective management. We also disinfect all guest luggage on arrival and have Hilton CleanStay signage’s at prominent locations across the resort. All team members strictly follow all safety protocols.
What are your plans for the hotel?
We are excited to launch the flagship resort for the brand in Goa and are confident that guests will be delighted to experience our distinct hospitality. We have received tremendous response from our guests thus far and we will continue to weave in curated experiences with the signature Hilton Hospitality. We are looking to create a Home Away from Home for our guests.
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