‘Regaining Guest’s Confidence should be the First Step in Overcoming Crisis’
In an interaction with BW Hotelier, Satyen Jain, CEO of Pride Group of Hotels, shares his views on the pandemic outbreak, its impact and the future of the hospitality industry.
What has been the impact of the lockdown on your business? Which segment of the business is most affected and why?
In the last few months, things have accelerated drastically for the industry-leading to a minimum or no occupancy in some properties. Because of the uncertainty in the lockdown period, we are experiencing a big drop in new reservations and increase in cancellations on both the business and leisure end.
In this current scenario of the outbreak, it’s hard to pick a segment that is hard hit. The reduced traffic to the hotels also has a cascading effect on revenues from F&B, MICE and other areas.
Are you supporting the efforts of the Government in all locations you are present in and how?
Yes. Presently, as we witness an unprecedented lockdown in our country due to the Coronavirus pandemic our heart goes out to the healthcare workers and police officers who are leading from the frontline. As a small gesture of appreciation towards our most deserving saviors, we have been distributing free food parcels from our seven properties. The food is prepared by our in house chefs.
We strictly abide by all social distancing and personal hygiene guidelines. And the parcels are neatly packed and distributed under the guidance of an NGO and local police stationed in each of the cities.
What are your initiatives to build confidence in your employees for regaining the glory of the industry?
Presently, we are conducting training sessions for our employees so they can adapt to the changing trends in work practices. The employee wellbeing has been put even higher in the priority list. These training sessions are also focused on awareness and understanding of the emerging world post-Covid. It will not only help our employees to take care of the guests but they also will be able to help each other.
We are ensuring that our teams are up to date with the new cleaning practices and hygiene standards as advised by the government. And are also strictly following it so that it becomes a way of life for them when we start our operations in the new normal.
What are the interim relief measures that the hospitality industry expects from the policy makers?
The hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit industries as compared to the other industry in the segment. We welcome the government’s move to offer a moratorium for three months loan. No doubt it will help us but the problem is the period is too short.
The measures that we want the government to take includes conserving cash flow, GST withholding and compulsory directive to be given to the banks to extend principal & interest payment for 2 quarters. Also some tax credits for payments and some waivers on property taxes to lift and other measures to uplift the industry.
What new protocols are you planning once the lockdown lifts across the front and backend with these new social distancing and protection norms that the world has begun to understand and fear?
To prevent any human to human and cross-contamination, hygiene checks of guests and employees will be conducted periodically. The social distancing norm will be strictly followed with an additional check on hygiene in every step of our service. Hand hygiene stations will be implemented at all the prominent areas of the hotels. The frequency of cleaning and disinfection process will be frequently changed from daily to an hourly basis for all high touch point areas.
Communication will play a pivotal role in this entire process. There’s nothing to fear. Information and precaution are available on the touch of the tip. It’s only about informing the right thing in the right way.
What is the roadmap that you suggest for the recovery of the travel and hospitality industries? Do please share some positive pointers for better times ahead.
We believe regaining guest’s confidence should be the first step in overcoming the crisis. Instilling a sense of safety in the guests will play a huge role. So, further strict sanitary and hygiene measures will need to be applied across the industry, with new practices put in place in order to monitor and control the environment in which the business takes place.
Communication will play a lead role in reaching out to the guests and needs to be done subtly. Gentle, so it reassures the guest of the safety in their decision to start planning and travelling again. As an industry, we should be ready to adapt our approach towards the new travellers who are locked safely in the confines of their homes at the moment.
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