Hospitality Will Match India's Robust Growth

Samir MC, Managing Director, Fortune Park Hotels, a leader responsible for building on the brand's outstanding reputation and meeting its aggressive goals, says his hotel is ready to match the Indian travel and tourism sector's fast-track growth in the new decade

INDIA HAS emerged as a significant and attractive destination for travel and tourism in recent years. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) pegs India at no. 3 out of 185 countries of the world in terms of the travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP during 2018.

The country is currently witnessing a robust growth in demand from overseas and domestic travellers, alike. This demand largely depends on business travellers but tourist traffic is also on the rise because of a plethora of distinct leisure experiences that India has to offer like adventure, wellness, spiritual and eco-tourism. The rising middle-class and increasing disposable incomes continue to support the growth of domestic and outbound tourism.

The growth in domestic tourist arrivals is due to the emergence of the value-driven customer, popularisation of the weekend culture, the evolving choices of millennials, government campaigns, introduction of low-cost airline services, increased trade and a booming service sector.

Taking a cue, domestic and international brands have made significant inroads into this space and mid-market hotels are seeing a steady rise. Competition is fierce in metros and Tier-I cities, while supply is slowly growing in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. There is increasing competition from tech-startups and online aggregators, leading to entry of new users at the bottom of the pyramid.

While shortfall still exists in the overall supply, demand is growing northwards because of government initiatives like the introduction of electronic visa, expansion of visa-on-arrival, the UDAN scheme that is revolutionising air connectivity to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, identification and development of tourist sites, the Incredible India 2.0 campaign along with   their renewed focus on tourism infrastructure.

Challenges and Disruptors

Shortage of supply in the budget and mid-market segment due to high capital costs, poor infrastructure facilities, and scarcity of land and skilled staff in Tier-II, III and IV cities has been the biggest challenges so far.

While Technology has clearly been the biggest disruptor, digital innovation and automation is the new disruptor. At the same time, personalisation has become the key word, with websites showing custom reviews and virtual reality allowing a 360-degree experience of hotel facilities and services before booking and use of in-room entertainment like split-screen TVs with OTT platforms to personalise viewing choices. That being said, the key to satisfying a guest and being part of their individual universe is to offer a seamless customized and personalized experience.

Smart Everything

The hospitality industry is leading the charge in the adoption of smart technology - from operations to guest experience to marketing. Smart hotel technology is being actively used to enhance customer journey by predicting his needs and providing him personalised conveniences and comfort. Remote check-in/check-out processes, mobile room keys and smart room service systems are all enhancing guest conveniences. Adding to this are smart marketing practices that monitor the online journey of the guest by mapping his online reviews, capturing preferences on social media platforms and using big data to improve guest experience in an actionable manner.

Smart technology is also being used to reduce operational costs and exploit new sources of revenue. Smart energy and lighting solutions like smart thermostats and sensors monitor heating, lighting, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and map occupancy patterns to deliver efficiencies. They capture real-time data to track and optimise energy consumption. Predictive maintenance can also be done using sensor data and maintenance issues can be identified before they escalate into costly mistakes.

The Decade Ahead

Most domestic hotel companies would have evolved into niche hotels. Significant investment by brands in the mid-market space would lead to acquisition and consolidation. More supply will emerge in Tier-II, III and IV markets. Tier III-IV markets would become more sensitive to branded hotels. There will be an increase in leisure getaways. In key metros and Tier-I cities, mixed-use development projects comprising hospitality, commercial, residential and retail components would become more popular.

Experiential travel will rise considerably while New Age, minimalistic yet comfortable hotels will rise. Technology that adds value to the customer's journey will rule. Mobile will remain a first. The millennial, value-conscious traveller with good expendable power, who is seeking unique experiences, will drive the demand in leisure markets.

Indeed, the hospitality industry will be a key revenue and employment generator.

The Fortune List

Fortune has built a fantastic legacy in the past 25 years.   With the rising number of business travellers and millennials emphasising work-life balance, there is a huge scope in the mid-scale segment. Micro-breaks from work is a growing trend where the new age traveller is looking at squeezing in curated travel in shorter time, aided by improved transport, cheaper flights, on-demand car rentals and accommodation choices.

Fortune's emphasis will be on strengthening the brand by expanding its portfolio with the right partners in the right markets. Talent lies at the heart of our brand promise so we would like to drive leadership through our strong sales presence as well as committed teams in our hotels.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '5 Years Young & Just Begun'

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