‘The Order Of Relief Should Be People, Assets And Companies’

BW Hotelier talks to Nikhil Sharma, Area Director Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts about the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry.

The Indian hospitality sector is one of the worst hit sectors by novel coronavirus. BW Hotelier talks to Nikhil Sharma, Area Director Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts about the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry. He sheds light on the way forward for the industry.

What, in your view, would be the impact of the COVID-19 on the industry?

The coronavirus continues to create unprecedented circumstances for the hospitality industry, as well as for countries all over the world. While these are extraordinary times, we know they will pass. We remain confident in the strength and resiliency of our industry and our business. As we enter a new era of travel, the key priority is to ensure that we play our part at restoring guests’ confidence in travel and do everything we can to make them feel safe and welcome.

Do you think there is a reset of the global order across industries and does it mean the fittest and sharpest will come back sooner than the others?

The fittest and sharpest will be better positioned to see a rebound and at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, we have already started deploying various initiatives for our hotels to help ensure the smoothest transition possible when travel gradually resumes. Outside of travel, all industries will need to be agile and adaptable to meet consumer needs in this new normal.

The industry has been in an expansion mode, what is your take on that and message?

The hotel industry as a whole has been in expansion mode over the past several years. More specifically, in India and across the rest of the Indian-subcontinent, we’ve seen rapid growth, across existing and new destinations in the region. This growth is in line with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts' mission to make hotel travel possible for all. Earlier this year, before the lockdown measures started in India, we opened three additional hotels and signed five development agreements. The travel industry will inevitably rebound, and when it does, we will be there, ready to welcome travellers back through our doors.

Your message for the industry professionals: How best must they efficiently utilize this crisis and lockdown period from a review and planning standpoint?

This time allows for unique opportunities for industry professionals. Opportunities to enhance skills, build team rapport and show support to owners and employees. It also affords the opportunity to work on personal goals, such as fitness and personal betterment. Most importantly, it affords the opportunity to construct a well-rounded plan for recovery.

What steps do you suggest for the industry's recovery and in what horizon?

Put health and safety first - for guests, colleagues and staff members. This is absolutely key.

Develop a practical and innovative approach to sales.

Adapt to new work environments and educate yourself on how best to help your hotels—particularly as they run with limited resources.

What relief measures do you suggest for the industry leaders that they must go to the Government with, for the industry’s recovery?

The order of relief should be people, assets and companies. It is important to first look after our workforce, then minimise non-performing assets and after this assist with keeping the lights on in companies.

Your thoughts and advice on how should the industry be promoted post-COVID crisis?

Our belief at Wyndham is that guests, team members and hotel owners need to know they can count on us to always put their health and safety first. We need to build guest confidence while showing unwavering support for hotels and their owners. This is at the heart of everything we do and will continue to do.

Outside of our own efforts, the focus on domestic travel in India will continue to be key and drive the country’s travel recovery. The Prime Minister’s message of visiting at least 15 destinations in India by 2022 is particularly relevant to promoting tourism and shows the kind of thinking that will help pave the way for the revival of the industry. 

Any other pearls of wisdom to cheer up the industry? Share some positive pointers for better times ahead.

Although there is a high level of uncertainty surrounding our industry at this time, the travel sector has repeatedly proven to be strong in the face of adversity and we remain confident in its strength and resiliency when travel resumes once more. The industry will be changed but we will adapt and prevail. While reaching pre-COVID-19 levels will take some time, there is a particular silver lining for the Indian hotel industry: 85 per cent of travel will be driven by domestic tourism and the expected re-direction of 25 million international travellers to domestic destinations in 2020 or early 2021.


Around The World