F&B plays major role in growth of Indore’s hospitality business

In a conversation with BW HOTELIER, Ranjan Kumar Das, General Manager, WOW Hotel, Indore, talks about the recent trends in F&B, revival of hospitality industry and converting OTA customers into direct bookings

Ranjan Kumar Das was working with the Kamat Hotels in Mumbai when one of his mentors called him to offer a job. The promoter of the hotel wished to expand their hospitality vertical and wanted Das to head it. And over time, expand. Something which Das did successfully after joining WOW Hotel. Today, he heads three units – Hotel WOW (125 keys, five-star hotel with five restaurants and three banquet halls); Hotel Winway (38 keys, boutique hotel with two restaurants and banqueting options) and Ambience by Winway (a state-of-the-art convention centre and wedding lawn spread across two acres) as the General Manager.  

Strategically situated in the heart of Indore’s commercial hub, AB Road, WOW - World of Winway is one of the best five-star hotels of Indore and an epitome of luxury. Excerpts from an interview:

What are the revival plans at Wow Hotel Indore? 

The pandemic has taught us to invent and reinvent ourselves and relook at revenue-generating methods. The survival and eventual growth will now depend on how fast one can adapt to the circumstances. Certain innovative methods we designed to generate revenue during the pandemic times include innovative packages for rooms like Pamper Your Princess package; staycations customised for families; work from hotels and free upgrades for vaccinated guests. Promoting F&B was done by a new takeaway menu and offering dinner in private spaces as restaurants were frequented less by guests during those times. We converted a few rooms to private dining areas and extended special discounts for vaccinated guests. Luckily, all these ideas bore fantastic results. Of course, we had our misses too but these ideas and thoughts came in due to the new normal and unusual circumstances. Post-pandemic, the hotel is all ready to adapt as per the circumstances and make the best use of the situations ahead. 

How important is social media strategy for a standalone property like Wow Hotel Indore? 

As there has been a drastic drop in people buying in newspapers and magazines, the clientele of print media clientele has shifted base to digital media. People are buying, selling and making payments through mobile phones and laptops. Screen time has gone up by almost 50 per cent so digital/ social media marketing is a logical and cost-effective method of marketing. Be it a standalone property or belongs to a group, the reach to the client base has indeed become easier. 

What role does F&B play in getting repeat clientele for you?  

Indore is a very F&B-centric city and its residents are great foodies. Also, the city happens to be a huge wedding destination with F&B playing a major role in the growth of the hospitality business as also for our hotel. We operate five top-class restaurants and bars with almost 400 covers and boast of a first-of-its-kind Northwest frontier cuisine speciality restaurant in Indore.  

What is the most recent F&B trend in Indore? 

We are getting a lot of queries for private dining spaces, small exclusive functions and venue-based events. A huge demand is likely to be generated for food deliveries and cloud kitchens in future.

Do you have any plans to convert OTA customers into direct bookers and how? 

The clientele that frequents through online travel portals was driven by discounts and rates earlier. With time, these travellers have now driven towards hotel ratings apart from pricing. In the new normal, the guests are the actual feeders for a hotel. Hence, the hotel has a choice, either to have them come through the online channel or convert them into direct reservations in future. We, at WOW Hotel, ensure a special team is appointed to sieve out the corporates and regular travellers from the free individual ones coming through online portals. These are then followed up as sales lead to try and convert them into direct bookings. 

Your thoughts on the revival of the hospitality industry in general. 

The hotels have already started reviving and would continue to do so but it would be a slow and tiring process. The hotels are taking a major beating on the ADR front, down by almost 50 per cent as compared to the pre-pandemic times. The hotel industry would be able to come back to its glory towards the third quarter of 2022. 

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