DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore has hosted several celebratory functions post the lockdown: Subhabrata Roy
Subhabrata Roy- General Manager, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore shares how the hotel is steadily seeing a pent-up demand for people to travel. He further elaborates on how, more than room occupancies, the demand for events and weddings, has considerably gone up
Are you receiving any guests into your hotels now after the lockdown? Where do occupancies stand right now for your hotel vis-à-vis 2019?
We all know covid-19 is the worst crisis of the century and hospitality industry has been among the worst hit in terms of declining occupancies and cancellations. Of course, 2020 occupancies are nowhere close to 2019 or 2018 levels, but we are steadily seeing a pent-up demand for people to travel. After the staggered unlocking in Bengaluru, our hotel has witnessed marginal improvement since July 2020. We understand that in the current environment, there is a hesitation among guests to travel but when they are sure, we are ready to welcome them in the new normal. More than room occupancies, the demand for events and weddings, however, has considerably gone up. Today everyone is considering 5-star hotels when they are planning a celebration and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore has hosted several celebratory functions post the lockdown.
Hotels are running with lesser staff and lesser guests, how are you managing to maintain the ambience as well as buzz, keeping in mind social distancing and hygiene protocols? Where is the ‘warmth’ in hospitality?
Hospitality industry in general is a very high-touch point activity-based industry, and the way services are being offered have been completely reworked. Teams have redone SOPs, changed the way they used to operate etc. by incorporating social distancing guidelines. At DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore, we have embraced the totally unique programs from hygiene standpoint with the launch of our Hilton CleanStay and Hilton EventReady with CleanStay initiatives. Contactless dining is a trend that is being followed where there is minimal interaction between guests and servers. This has changed the entire experience of a guest dining at a restaurant. We are anchoring on our communication strengths and going that extra mile to develop new content on Social media platforms, which is real, relatable, and attainable. From optimizing new call to action buttons to recording new videos and giving a virtual tour of the hotel to our guests, we are trying to create warmth and stay connected through content that entertains and adds value.
What kind of ancillary revenue streams are you exploring for your hotel in the current scenario?
When the times were good, no one really thought of ancillary revenues. However, all of a sudden when the country went into a strict lockdown, Food Deliveries was a great opportunity, which literally was activated overnight in a big way, thanks to the already existing food aggregator platforms. We have repurposed hotel areas by transforming few guest rooms into workspaces, offered multiple workstation configurations such as open desk, private cabins, remote office space, presentation-ready rooms, etc. As we now move into the festive season across the country, gifting options and Curated Dining Experience is also something we are looking at to deliver incremental revenues. For non-resident guests, we are offering our versatile banquet spaces for special occasions and laundry packages to make it revenue generating.
Any plans and hope from the upcoming Diwali season?
We have observed that consumers look forward to the festive season. We saw a surge in demand for festive packs during Raksha Bandhan and Friendship Day. Now as we move into Diwali season, we will be happy to generate 60 -70 per cent from what we made last year. Gifting in the form of hotel vouchers, unique DoubleTree Hampers, pre-packed options or customised options is something, which we are looking to endorse in a big way. We are also hoping that any deferred or cancelled event from the earlier months of 2020 will be reactivated considering the restrictions have eased in most of the areas in Bangalore.
The biggest challenge for revival of the hospitality industry as per you?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected global economy and particularly, travel and hospitality industry in ways we could have never imagined. There will be conscious awareness of safety and sanitation by the consumers in the post pandemic world. It is inevitable that a ‘new normal’ is on its way post the virus. Most MNCs have cut down on non-essential travel and have allowed their employees to Work from Home (WfH) until early next year which means reduced MICE spending and lower room occupancy for the hotel. It is, therefore, essential to expand operations and services with regard to the changing requirements of the present.
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