Focus on F&B, weddings, and social events to grow revenue: Lakshmanan Ramanathan

In an interview, Lakshmanan Ramanathan, General Manager, The Westin Chennai Velachery shares more on the road to recovery post the pandemic.

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?

Yes, with renewed and enhanced safety precautions and Marriott’s Commitment to Clean, we are open to welcoming our guests back at the hotel. Post lockdown, we have gradually domestic travel picking up pace and we are also witnessing high flow of footfalls on the weekend at our Food & Beverage venues including weekend staycations. Also, post lockdown, we have witnessed an upward swing in the number of weddings being hosted at the hotel. Guests are more conscious of where they go and are more informed than before with hygiene and sanitation being at the forefront for dining and accommodations.

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?

The warmth in hospitality has always been at the core of delivering exceptional and memorable experiences for our guests. Known for delivering authentic hospitality in the city, our spaces are well utilized making it alive and buzzing. We have set up two kiosks at the lobby, one for Spa and a bigger one for Diwali, which makes the entrance a welcoming one with the lobby buzzing with activities. We have also placed various digital signages at the lobby and other public areas of the hotel which helps communicating our ongoing offers, promotions as well as safety measures being taken by us. Our associates follow one of the most humble rules of ‘serving with a smile’ even if it is behind the mask.

What kind of ancillary revenue streams are you exploring for your hotel in the current scenario? 

As our hotel opened and the lockdown relaxations were implemented apart from our core revenue streams of accommodations and dining, we have also been focussing on weddings and social events. Looking at the demand for weddings, we launched three wedding packages at three different price points with different inclusions, promoting Shaadi by Marriott in Chennai.

Apart from Weddings, our home delivery programme, Marriott on Wheels and Chefs at Home are two Food & Beverage driven revenue streams that we are exploring in the city. To enhance its presence in the city, we have carried out various influencer activations, newspaper columns and social media campaigns to spread its visibility and drive additional revenue subsequently. Also, we have witnessed requirements for Laundry services from the neighbouring areas and for which we launched doorstep laundry services with same day and pick up and drop. These are few of the ancillary revenue streams that we are exploring at the hotel along with the above mentioned 

Any plans and hope from the upcoming Diwali season?

We are seeing a subsequent growth of festivals being widely celebrated in the city with more and more people looking to order food at home. We had a successful Onam season with home delivered Onam Sadhya in August through Marriott on Wheels delivery programme and we are looking forward to see the same zeal for Diwali. We have already rolled out our Diwali offerings in the city through social media and consumer specific selling strategies. Our Diwali Gifting offering is aimed at all price points and its USP is that it is customizable as per our guests’ choice and various other gifting options are added apart from  sweets, such as nuts, dry fruits, eco-friendly products, Spa, Room and dining vouchers that people would like to gift their friends and family. We have installed Diwali Kiosk at our lobby with a dedicated associate taking care of the space and engaging all guests walking into the hotel, especially during weekends. We will also be driving online campaigns to drive additional queries for Diwali.

The biggest challenge for revival of the hospitality industry as per you? 

The biggest challenge for revival in my opinion is to get the customer confidence in their minds that it is safer to step out and travel. People have been extremely cautious and conscious of travelling or even visiting their favourite restaurants.


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