Staycation trend likely to fizzle out with time
In a conversation with BW HOTELIER, Mansur Mehta, Managing Director, Suba Group of Hotels, talks about acquiring 35 new properties by buying a majority stake in 1589 Hotels, changes the pandemic has brought about in hospitality business, why the staycation trend will not last long and the future plans.
Suba Hotels forayed into the hospitality world in South Mumbai in 1996 with Hotel Suba Palace. Now, 25 years later, the group houses 12 hotels across India. The group focusses on creating affordable luxury business hotels of three- and four-star category under the Suba brand name and a new concept of budgeted hotels with a difference by the brand name of Click Hotels by Suba. To date, both the brands have established a strong presence across the Indian subcontinent and the UAE with 50 hotels and 2,000 rooms across 25-plus destinations.
Why the decision to acquire 35 new properties to your portfolio across 22 destinations in India by buying a majority stake in the hospitality company, 1589 Hotels when the hospitality industry is sailing in rough waters due to the pandemic?
As the Covid-19 situation started becoming clearer, we understood that the market will eventually pick up with the leisure and religious segment, followed by the Tier 2 and 3 regions and then the metro cities. While we have created a strong foothold in Tier 2 and 3 markets, we were yet to mark our presence in the leisure segment. It is for this reason that we acquired 1589 Hotels as our foray into the leisure space.
Staycations and workcations have become popular trends lately. Your thoughts on this new trend and is Suba Group planning to join the bandwagon?
I don’t think this trend will last for too long. In another eight-12 months, once the pandemic situation passes, people will eventually start missing the city and social life, friends and the get-togethers and the parties. So, the staycation trend is likely to fizzle out with time.
What changes has the pandemic brought to the hospitality sector in terms of doing business?
First, the biggest change is that hotels are focussing on health and hygiene for employees and customers more than ever before. Second, they are displaying greater financial discipline, having understood the advantages of remaining debt-free. Third, there has been a shift in the staff model as well. Another aspect is that F&B menus have become shorter than before. Furthermore, instead of the printed material that was traditionally placed in every room, hotels are using QR codes to share information with their patrons.
How do you see the hospitality market in South and West India?
The hospitality market in the South and West regions have always been very lucrative. They also have distinct challenges. At this moment, the entire hotel industry is facing a lot of challenges. However, these specific regions attract a lot of business which is why they will be the perfect avenues for our expansion plans.
Share your future expansion plans. Are more acquisitions in the pipeline?
We are planning to expand our presence in the southern and eastern markets. We have already brought some skilled professionals on board Down South who will be carrying out extensive business development in the region. And yes, we are very keen to expand in these two regions where we have a low presence. We aim to reach our target of 3000 rooms very soon.
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