Nurturing Travellers' Dreams
By 2025, many innovations that are just emerging today will have moved into mainstream operation and transformed the hotel sector.
INDIA IS the most digitally advanced traveller nation with respect to digital tools being used for planning, booking and experiencing a journey. With the emergence of globalisation and international hotel chains making their entries into this diverse land, the demand has increased, and the market is stabilised and caters to this demand. The industry is in the early stages of an upcycle in which occupancies have improved to 67 percent. As we are stepping in the new decade, the sector is likely to expand its horizons based on the changing needs of the guests. Having said that, every industry comes with its own set of challenges and the nature of business in India is extremely unpredictable. However, for a sustained and fruitful growth it’s imperative to keenly observe and tackle immediate issues at hand. With major airline players in the industry declaring bankruptcy, the hotel industry has witnessed a decline in sales due to escalating airfares. Another factor responsible for this is the regulatory constraints encountered at every step in the process of development of hotels beginning from land acquisition stage to approval by various ministries and frequent election announcements in different states.
But the entire ecosystem has been undergoing a major revolution, thanks to technology and the development of technology-driven business models. The next five years will witness experience-based guest services becoming the hallmark of hotel offerings. Ever expanding technological innovations, rise in MICE tourism, disruption in food and beverage segment, sustainability and the game changing loyalty programs will put the Indian hotels industry on an upswing.
Travellers’ today are seeking a holistic experience and growing ease with technology is navigating several disruptive trends. By 2025, many innovations that are just emerging today will have moved into mainstream operation and transformed the hotel sector. Robotic process automation, for instance, will disrupt hotels’ reservation and loyalty procedures in constructive ways. Check-in processes will be frictionless and chatbot services will incorporate with booking and purchasing, establishing a new notification channel for guests. Biometrics are likely to become mainstream and facial recognition will help identify guests, and fingerprint scans will offer secure access to rooms and amenities. As technology reinvents every stop on the travel journey, the on-site experience will be enhanced too. We at Accor also aim at bringing its skill of welcoming people to new fields and rounding out its offering with new technological innovations. The brand’s smart room is a perfect amalgamation of design and practicality to provide a room for all with reduced mobility. An innovative concept that will certainly appeal to its visitors - increasingly demanding flexibility, simplicity and personalization.
Owing to India’s rising middle class and increasing disposable incomes there has been a continued growth in domestic and outbound tourism. While the market is faring well and booming exponentially, there is a huge opportunity for the country to augment its MICE Tourism. The segment is expected to be a potential revenue spinner of travel and tourism economy. There is a dire need of mounting recognition from the government on the virtues of cultivating large MICE infrastructure to strengthen India’s influence as a world-class international destination for large scale events like conventions and exhibitions. Ministry of Tourism’s recent initiative to refurbish the present exhibition facility and infrastructure at Pragati Maidan into Iconic International Exhibition and Convention Centre (IECC) is a promising step towards facilitating India as a global competitor. Accor also caters to all kinds of MICE activities across budgets. Most of our hotels are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, curated food menus and event teams. We had recently launched a Novotel MICE campaign across India as part of the Novotel20 initiative to promote the 20 Novotel properties in India.
An additional factor impacting the industry is Indian food and beverage landscape which has sprouted manifolds. The emergence of multi cuisine standalone restaurants are giving a cutthroat competition to hotels and thus, the line between standalone and hotel restaurants is thus is becoming more blur. It will be fair to say that the prospects in the hospitality sector are enormous with even the foreign hotel brands acknowledging India as a lucrative tourism player and domestic hotel chains opening hotels in different segments, therefore, to expand this ecosystem these concerns need to be addressed. Farm to table concepts, using locally produced as well as locally sourced, and offering vegan options are all elements that all savvy travellers expect in our hotels today. Furthermore, guests appreciate the small yet impactful sustainable dining practices such as avoiding plastics, caged-free eggs, using non-plastic packing options and so on. At Accor, many of our properties have invested in herb and kitchen gardens and have extensively eliminated the use of plastic cutlery and plastic bottles.
Thus, environmental consciousness is emerging as a major guest preference and they are eager to do their bit for sustainability. From using solar panels for water heating to water saving equipment in washrooms and kitchens, guests are cognizant of every element at the hotel. We are in favour that the hospitality industry as whole should collaborate to share best practices and find solutions for sustainable hospitality. We are in the process of adopting ‘no plastic use’ throughout our properties, installed bottling plants and have been involved in planting trees in some parts of the country. Accor also recently introduced nursing assistance training course in New Delhi to train 40 young adult females. The course is for nine months, comprising three months classroom training and six months on the job training in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes.
Loyalty and streamlined process will be another key focus. To involve the guests and educate them, it is important to give them a platform which takes care of their needs. Thus, we believe that the key disruptor will be having a loyalty programme. ALL- Accor Live Limitless, promises to provide an all-encompassing platform which enacts as one’s lifestyle companion which integrates rewards, services and experiences throughout. With ALL, we are bringing value to everyday life whether guests and members live, work or play, elevating Accor’s relationship with clients, members and partners from transactional to emotional and inventing a completely new aspirational way to Live Limitless. Accor Live Limitless comes with host of new benefits like suite night upgrade across the luxury portfolio, spa and dining rewards, new premium status - Diamond and Limitless tiers and the new dining offer- where one can earn and redeem while dining across restaurants and bars among others. Guests can also enjoy loyalty benefits at more than 14 new hotel brands joining loyalty family- Movenpick, Mantra, SBE, Tribe, Onefinestay etc. and use the travel and trade partners across the board. Apart from improving the overall loyalty promise, there is also a new website and application, all.accor.com with refreshed features for more seamless customer digital journey and ease of booking. We are also creating memorable experiences outside the hotel stay to compliment your passion ranging from food, entertainment and sports. Our partnership with the globally renowned Paris Saint Germain football club, global events giants IMG and ticketing partner AEG are testimonies to that commitment.
It’s a given that retaining current customers and acquiring more eyeballs through experiences will be key. Therefore, it’s no doubt that 2025 will witness the industry’s contribution in the guest experience go beyond booking rooms.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '5 Years Young & Just Begun'
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