Hotels will depend on occupancy levels, but F&B will be a significant driving factor towards revenues: Amaan Kidwai

When the lockdown had closed doors to movement, ITC Gardenia was amongst one of those hotels that adapted to the need of the hour and provided the guests much-desired safety in their room. In conversation with BW HOTELIER, Amaan Kidwai, General Manager, ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru shared his views on the prospect of staycations, alternate methods of generating revenue, and future trends to be spotted in 2021 in the hospitality industry.

Enabling safe work from hotel

The hospitality sector saw a shift with the increasing focus on safety and hygiene protocols right after the lockdown was enforced last year. However, this transition was not difficult to achieve for ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru, as they were among the few hotels operating and ensuring their guests' safety during those difficult times. 

Elaborating more on this, Amaan Kidwai, General Manager, ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru said, “ITC Gardenia was one of the few hotels to be operational for its in-house guests during the lockdown. This gave us the upper hand to be prepared to welcome our guests back when the lockdown was lifted. With health, hygiene and safety garnering paramount importance and the New Normal setting in, ITC Hotels launched its path-breaking ‘WeAssure’ initiative.”

Kidwai further added, With a promise of providing optimal well-being and safety though responsible practices that are immensely relevant in the unprecedented circumstances we face today and in the tradition of ITC Hotels’ customary warmth, we identified the challenges that will be faced by our business partners.” 

Early precaution is the key to prevention, which is what the hotel did. The lockdown also introduced another aspect of life. With closed offices, corporate travellers started looking for spaces where such work could be conducted. With this newfound demand, ITC Gardenia customised their package to suit the needs of the corporate travellers. 

Narrating the transition, Kidwai stated, “At ITC Hotels, our pledge has always been to go out of our way to meet the requirements of our guests. Most offices were now closed; hence client meetings were difficult. In such a situation, a corporate traveler was looking to work from a place that gives him a sense of safety along with good internet connectivity and privacy, of course. We have enabled the same for our guest by introducing this custom made package which has the relevant inclusions of both complimentary Wi-Fi access and Boardroom usage, things that a discerning business guest is looking for.”

“This was primarily done to provide a business solution to our patrons wherein he can work at the hotel without disruption whilst we take care of his requirements, while also giving his health, hygiene, safety and overall wellbeing utmost priority in lines with our ‘WeAssure’ initiative at ITC Hotels.”

Reflecting on occupancy rates 

On the one hand, the RevPAR and occupancy rates remained low for most of Bengaluru hotels in the past. Giving insights about ITC Gardenia Bengaluru’s occupancy rates, Kidwai said, “The occupancy rates have shown a rise in the city since December. People trust brands that come with a guarantee of safety and we have successfully established that with our 'WeAssure' programme. Staycations have become a very popular trend in the city, and many people are going ahead with it rather than undergoing the risk of travels.”

Serving quality services on a safe platter 

When asked about measures taken to ensure guests’ safety, the hotel has reworked the guest experience to provide a stress-free stay. Commenting on the same, Kidwai said, “We have re-engineered our guest experiences with zero/minimal associate engagement (including digital ordering and e-payment solutions) and re-modelled hotel layout to support safe distancing. Our restaurants showcase a revamped layout ensuring safe distancing, contactless billing, and sanitised dining (crockery, cutlery, tableware) using state-of-the-art technology and disinfectants.”

He continued, “In keeping with ITC Hotels’ culinary tradition and excellence, our responsible dining initiative introduced mindfully curated menus based on the harmony of fresh and seasonal selections. Familiar flavours and inventive cuisine featuring immunity-boosting/healthy, delectable fares with 'Local Love,' and 'Seasonal Produce' welcome guests at our All-day Dining Pavilions and key signature restaurants, and as takeaways.” 

Now delivering: Premium flavoursome offerings

With the approval of vaccines for distribution, it would not be wrong to say that we can paint a future wherein people start heading out for luxury dining and spending quality time with their loved ones. Keeping the progress on the medical front in mind, Kidwai shared his opinion on the future of dining experiences, be it dine-in or home delivery via Cloud kitchens.

“Last year had seen luxury dining go measures in terms of reaching out to its target markets. The New Normal is here to stay for some time, and it will take some time for guests to head out for dining experiences confidently. Therefore, cloud kitchens are here to stay and are of key essence for the F&B sector,” he said.

ITC Hotels Bengaluru,leaves an indelible impression with its plethora of culinary offerings. Iconic restaurants like, Edo Restaurant & Bar, Royal Afghan and Kebabs & Kurries at ITC Gardenia and ITC Windsor have been instituted to offer iconic branded cuisine. Talking about the cuisines offered, Kidwai said, “Crafted with care and handled with utmost hygiene to ensure your wellbeing, our mindfully curated menus ensure unique food experiences in the comfort of your home, bringing you all-time favourite preparations from ITC Hotels.” 

He elaborated the various Menu being offered at their restaurant, “The Flavours Menu are mindfully curated menus will bring unique food experiences with local offerings from the region for diners across all major cities in India.”

That’s not all, the ‘Gourmet Couch Menu’ features the finest delectable from their signature brands and award-winning kitchens. Elaborating the same, Kidwai said, “This is a curated menu from globally acclaimed restaurants bring alive exquisite epicurean delights, with curated signature preparations to suit discerning palates.”

He further added, “Our Celebration Gourmet Couch Menus catering to groups/events which are curated menus for groups of 6 and above have been quite a hit amongst our guests. The ‘Gourmet In You’ meal kits will be an extension of premium food delivery service, Gourmet Couch. The meal kits also provide an efficient solution for discerning patrons with the shortage of time, who may store these kits in prescribed conditions for future use.” 

To amplify the culinary experience for Biryani lovers, ITC Hotels had recently unveiled the Biryani & Pulao Collection. Speaking about which Kidwai said, “It is a curated selection of simple delights that brings forward the ten gems from heritage kitchens of India. United in its Diversity, Biryani and Pulao have permeated every region with their universal appeal. The Biryani & Pulao collection embodies the dining legacy and finest cuisine offerings from ITC Hotels.” 

Tracing future trends

Discussing about the hospitality and F&B trends that one may get to witness this year, Kidwai said, “Going by the recent trends in consumer behavior, I think Staycations are here to stay. Food and beverage is also fast picking – both dine-ins and delivery.” 

He believes that domestic travel will resurrect; however, international travel will take time to return to a normal state, especially in the wake of the newfound Coronavirus strain. He added, “Hotels will depend on occupancy levels, but F&B will be a significant driving factor towards revenues.” 

Treats for 2021 

When asked about the offers in store for 2021, Kidwai revealed, “We have some very lucrative ongoing staycation offers at ITC Gardenia, we will focus on driving the same. On the food and beverage front, in the new year, we are planning new menus and culinary experiences across our restaurants.”

“For smaller events, we are launching an all-inclusive offering called Gourmet Bubble. It includes a private venue, a bespoke signature menu, select premium beverages, and our exclusive service team – all this backed by heightened safety & hygiene measures,” he concluded.

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