Hospitality Industry Plough Through For Better Future
In a webinar panel discussion organized by BW Hotelier, industry experts point out the prevailing challenges one by one facing the hospitality sector and addressed possible solutions for smooth transition post lockdown.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt on every operation in the hotel industry for the past few months. Since late March, the central government prohibited all operations in hotel and hospitality services except those that are extremely necessary for healthcare workers, police, government officials, and people stuck due to travel restrictions. After more than two months now, resuming operations are in order from the second week of June. With the lockdown apparently coming to an end, the hospitality industry is gearing up to welcome guests again at its premises with abundant care and safety.
Among the major challenges, the hospitality industry has struggled with the employee layoffs in the prevailing critical times. Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts addressing the issue stated that it is important to be frank and honest about it rather than sweeping the truth under the table. He shared that his company is sensitive to the situation of the people, and at the same time, not give any space to hollow promises as an organization.
Speaking on the other apparent changes that the industry is going through, Mandeep S. Lamba, President (South Asia), HVS Anarock stated that the industry is going to become contactless and many operations will be conducted online. In his opinion, the staffing level in the industry will greatly reduce. One of the key concerns in the hospitality sector is that of future investments and capital flow. To that, Lamba shared: “A lot of investment and capital flow will come into the sector. Some of the hotels will change hands. Not much in 2020, but in 2021 there will be a significant inflow of capital.”
The speakers were speaking at a webinar panel discussion organized by BW Hotelier: “Breaking the Pandemic WeBBlast: Getting the Industry Back… Hear the Honchos”. The eminent dignitaries present were Ajay Bakaya; Mandeep S. Lamba; Sanjay Sethi, Managing Director & CEO, Chalet Hotels; Samir MC, Managing Director, Fortune Park Hotels; and Nikhil Sharma, Area Director - Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The discussion was hosted by industry veteran and thought leader Rattan Keswani, Deputy MD, Lemon Tree Hotels & Director, Carnation Hotels. The industry leaders discussed the crucial touch-points to keep in mind needed to run the business post-lockdown.
It is agreed upon by many industry experts that lessons learned during these challenging times will go a long way. In fact, Samir MC explicitly pointed out that the young professionals as well as the senior leaders are learning a lot of things from the pandemic. He argued that since the young can learn and adapt fast, they will be instrumental in driving the technology forward in the industry. Similarly, Nikhil Sharma stated, “What most international brands are looking at are keyless entries, check-ins, and menus in the restaurants. All these have to be taken care of with the evolving technology. Experts agree in the days ahead, the technology will have a significant role in how business operations will be set up.
Additionally, speaking about the future of the industry, Lamba stated that there will be more preparedness and the customers will need the validation of sorts in relation to the safety aspect. He thinks there will be a lot more automation and even the presence of buffets may be in question. “The design of various things may change, nevertheless, every crisis is an opportunity. The final priority at this point will be to grow revenue,” said Lamba.
The pandemic has also compelled leaders to question the fundamentals on which the businesses are run. Keswani reinforced how the initial idea of hospitality, which is to ‘serve’ is not as emphasized as once used to. He discussed, “About how a person in this business should be willing to sit at the desk, serve food, do the dishes, as well as interact with people, and only then the fundamental concept of hospitality is utilized.” Consequently, he asserted that the idea of being a multi-skilled has become imperative and should be looked at along with specialization.
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