Guests are more price cautious now and they look for value in the price they pay: Arjun Kaggallu

It is encouraging to see guests willing to travel to Goa, many of them are just last-minute plans to drive down to the beach destination. Arjun Kaggallu, General Manager, Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa is hopeful that the destination will build up to partial recovery by the Diwali season.

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?

Hyatt Centric in Candolim re-opened on September 1, 2020 and we have been welcoming guests right since then. It is encouraging to see guests willing to travel, a lot of them are last minute plans to drive down to Goa. Though the demand is low, we look at this as early indication of travel fear fading away soon. Airlines are expected to increase the number of flights to Goa from October and this will further increase the demand. With these developments, we hope the destination builds up to partial recovery by the Diwali season. 

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?

Our world has changed, our Care has not. The physical distance is there for sure but we still have the same warmth in every corner of the hotel; ‘warmth’ is in smiles behind the masks our associates wear and in the extra ‘Care’ they provide while cleaning rooms and all areas so that our guests feel healthy and safe. There’s always someone around to assist guests with everything they require for a safe, comfortable, convenient and relaxed stay. 

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

Guests are looking for Safe and Hygienic handling of Food & Beverage services, so this is certainly a key revenue source. Considering the response to our F&B options from local clients, we are exploring new ways to cater to the community with food delivery or even the entire service experience in their homes for small intimate gatherings. Also, Goa remains a preferred destination for celebrations, and our newly designed event spaces have become another revenue source for us. Our guests are millennials and explorers who seek unique experiences at the destination. In the current scenario, our focus is on curated experiences indoors which enhances their overall stay experience and also gives us an opportunity to increase ancillary revenues. 

Any plans and hope from the upcoming Diwali season?

As always, Diwali is expected to bring in a ray of hope to the hospitality industry in Goa. Hotels in Goa already have business on books over the Diwali holidays and so is the case with Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa. Traditionally, certain festivals like Diwali & Christmas see a higher demand from family leisure FIT businesses. Due to current market dynamics, we expect this demand to firm up closer to the date and not in advance, as travellers are not making advance decisions. 

We are not working on any specific plan for this season but are focusing on two key aspects - Value & Delivery. Instead of saying that the current market is price sensitive, we believe that guests are more price cautious now and they look for value in the price they pay. Hence, we take the effort to know our customers and price our services correctly, so our customers see that value, this makes selling much more effective. On the delivery front, we are prepared to exceed guests’ expectations with safety and cleanliness even during maximum occupancy levels. Our best practices are developed following Hyatt’s Global Cleanliness Commitment to provide a safe environment for our guests and colleagues. 

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

The biggest challenge currently is consumer confidence and there is no quick solution here. This is related to several factors like the pandemic situation in different feeder markets in India, regulatory measures taken by different states, airline capacities etc. The early booking trends and online search patterns suggest that travellers are keen to plan their travel soon however the conversion is still very low, we believe this sentiment will get better over next few months. Meanwhile, measures taken by each hospitality player like airlines, transportation, branded and non-branded hotels will help build consumer confidence about safety and cleanliness and encourage them to travel. 


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