REVPAR of the hotels is expected to take longer because of Lower ADR: Davinder Juj
Covid-19 has had a debilitating effect on the hospitality industry. Davinder Juj, General Manager, Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place in a conversation with BW HOTELIER talks about the market response, key learnings from the pandemic and various initiatives taken by Eros Hotel.
Tell us briefly about the market response after the reopening of hotels in the city?
The response has been very slow. Not many guests have been coming into the hotel for accommodation or dining as they are concerned about their safety and hygiene. The rates have been largely compromised and hotels are facing a tough phase. There has been a tug of war for rates in the market to secure any business for survival. But, with the ease in travel guidelines and unlocking of travel restrictions, domestic tourism has started to pick up. People are now looking forward to travelling again after being shut at homes for many months. Although there are a few business streams which will take time to pick up once International flights resume as normal. Pandemic has brought a sharp decline in the dine-in guests and considering the demand of home delivery and take away food, we have started with Home delivery option and launched ‘Eros Flavours Delivered’ following all safety measures. We are also offering flexible options for guests to enjoy meals in the room. Lately, we have seen a surge in weddings and social events also. It is expected that with the arrival of vaccine and regaining the confidence of customer, the situation shall start to revive in near future.
What is the current occupancy level at your property and when do you think that the market will return to the level of 2019?
Hotel occupancies has been slow and almost 50-60 per cent lower than previous years. However, we are seeing a constant improvement month over month and the current situation shall get better after relaxation in restrictions due to Pandemic. The major impact has been on the rates and despite the fact that the occupancies are still improving, REVPAR (Revenue per available room) has been suffering for the industry. Various reports and trends show that the occupancies are expected to bounce back after November 2021. But because of lower ADR’s (Average Daily Rate), the REVPAR of the hotels is expected to take even longer. All this also depends whether the pandemic situation is well under control, restrictions are removed and people have the confidence and trust to start business as usual.
What are your new strategies for garnering more business?
At Eros Hotel, we emphasise on creating a valuable experience for our guests, rather than just a stay. To enhance this experience, we have developed various bundled packages with rooms and other hotel services. We have also ensured to have our presence on various booking platforms for rooms, events and F&B services for better visibility. We are exploring new avenues which will help us to generate hotel revenues. This includes home delivery and takeaway services, Special long stay packages for Work from Hotel by providing comfortable, safe and healthy working conditions to our guests as well as wedding packages at exclusive rates. We are also providing flexibility in cancellation policies, peaceful and green areas for rejuvenation, contactless services, safe dining and most importantly transparent communication. We are also encouraging our team to strategically collaborate and network with corporates, NGOs and online influencers in order to increase our reach and create value offers for our guests. Apart from that, we are actively running campaigns on our social media platforms that talk about the health and safety measures being practiced at the hotel to instil the trust and confidence of our existing and potential customers.
What are the key lessons and learning that the pandemic brought with it for the hotel industry?
The biggest learning from 2020 has been that we should keep ourselves prepared, mentally and financially, to deal with such unprecedented crisis. We engaged with our team members during lockdown through various activities from home, motivational trainings, skill enhancement trainings, trainings on safety awareness and recognitions. To support our team members, we also sold groceries at a very special price. All these efforts helped us in strengthening our bond with them and lifting their morale during these tough times. We even came forward to support the community and helped people in need during difficult times. We actively ran campaigns on social media to instil customers trust in us.
Keeping health, safety and hygiene as our top priority, we revisited our existing SOPs, created new SOPs and discovered new ways of managing operations more smoothly and efficiently. Our team was trained to multitask and to take up additional responsibilities. There is one thing that kept us connected and together and that is “the power of technology”. I am certain of the fact that this period will be remembered for the contribution of technology in our survival and revival period.
How has the Covid pandemic redefined the role of technology, especially at your property?
Technology has played a crucial role in pandemic as it has helped in providing solutions to many problems. If, today, we have been able to introduce and provide contactless services to our guests, all this has become possible with the help of technology. Virtual meetings have become a trending chapter of today’s life. Digital platforms have evolved like never before. Contactless payments, contactless check-in and check-out, contactless food ordering, are all fine examples of technological change and it has kept us together and connected through the tough times.
What creative initiatives have been taken by you to maximise your F&B business?
Eros Hotel has been known for its remarkable hospitality and its cuisine. However, owing to their safety and health concerns, there are guests who hesitate to step out. Hence, to suit their needs, we launched #ErosFlavoursDelivered, our Home Delivery and Takeaway Menu. Our patrons can now order their favourite Eros food from the comfort of their home. Our team takes all safety precautions to ensure that the food is hygienically cooked, packed and delivered. At Eros Hotel, 50 per cent seating has been reduced in restaurants to maintain social distancing at all times. We are providing contactless/digital payment options to the guests. Eros Hotel has also launched Pop up restaurant concept where a room is converted into a luxury private dining venue to enhance guest experience in terms of safety and hygiene concept. We are also offering premium beverages at a very special price in restaurants and In-Room Dinning. Corporate Meal Packages and Kitty Lunches are also available.
In the current scenario, how would you see the future of business travel as well as leisure travel?
The situation is unstable and on a very slow recovery path. Seeing the current trends, it depends a lot on how well the vaccination program is rolled out which will help in restoring the confidence and trust of the customer to start travelling again, ease in the Government Guidelines on various restrictions like domestic and international flights and limit on the number of people allowed in the events.The start of regular MICE business is another key to the hospitality business. After considering all this, it seems that the leisure business shall bounce back faster and corporate business will take a little longer before making a significant impact.
What would be your message for the guests who may be making their travel plans for the near future?
We would like to wish everyone good health and safety as the first message of 2021. We want to ensure that Eros Hotel is taking all the required measures and following all the protocols to keep the place hygienically clean and safe for all our guests and team members. The hotel has taken all the steps to make the place safe for all the visiting guests. Life is becoming normal and we are with all our guests to offer them the avenue to break away from routine and have memorable moments once again. Safety and hygiene have become key part of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry which has helped reassuring the trust and confidence of travellers again. Hence, it’s a good sign that people are adapting to the change which in return help in the revival period.
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