The Hotels of the Future will be Both Sustainable and Tech-Driven
The industry is witnessing heightened competition with the arrival of new players, new products and new systems, such as the room aggregators, who offer a curated list of hotels or private homes, villas and stays.
THIS IS a very significant time for the Indian hospitality industry. The demand from the market for more hotel rooms, and increasingly differentiated experiences, is large. Several kinds of guest segments have evolved: leisure, Bleisure (those who blend business travel with a day or two of leisure), business, family travel, resorts (those who travel to offbeat destinations and resorts for vacations), experiential travel (curating interesting experiences for the millennial generation, for whom luxury and holidays are all about interesting experiences), and two of the largest guest segments for hotels today: banquets powered by MICE and weddings.
There is the potential offered by the largely untapped religious tourism market. Some of India’s best hospitality brands will do well by tapping this market (right now largely served by smaller, unbranded hotels with varying service standards), which is still in its embryonic state as far as hospitality infrastructure goes.
HVS Anarock in their various predictions for the Indian hospitality industry has stated that RevPAR should grow by 9.5%, and while the demand for hotel rooms is growing by 7% annually, the supply is increasing by just about 4%. The pricing will only curve upwards. Significantly, the Indian hospitality industry’s footprint is expanding way beyond the traditional markets on the back of better road and airline infrastructure. From Guwahati to Kohima, Kolkata to Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam to Vijayawada, from states such as Jharkhand to Tripura – rapid urbanisation and infrastructure development is increasingly making these markets more relevant for hospitality.
The challenges of the Indian market are manifold. A shortage of skilled employees is one of the most crucial challenges we face. The industry has failed to retain good professionals because of the pressures of long working hours and unattractive wage packages. There is a boom in other service sectors and hotel management graduates often opt to join retail or aviation, where their skill sets are equally in demand.
I would like to mention the evolving customer demands that keep us on our feet. There is intense competition within the country, particularly for domestic hospitality brands such as Cygnett, from global players, unbranded hotels and new formats such as room aggregators. The value-driven volume customer seeks a full-service hotel. The industry is witnessing heightened competition with the arrival of new players, new products and new systems, such as the room aggregators, who offer a curated list of hotels or private homes, villas and stays. But India also has immense strengths as a market, and I see space for all kinds of hotels and hospitality formats. Our cultural and natural heritage and the increasing impetus to develop infrastructure in the country will serve the industry well.
At Cygnett Hotels and Resorts (CH&RPL), we do not believe in reinventing the wheel; but we certainly do things differently. Our vision is to build an iconic brand that appeals to all segments of the market in India & South Asia and eventually across the world. We are fostering a cultulre of living innovation with “Transparency” as our guiding mantra — it essentially means we are always open to new practices, technologies, and opportunities. Driven by the ambition of creating the hospitality of the future, we want to generate value and stimulate creativity with an approach of open-innovation.
We ultimately want to build what we call augmented hospitality - which means anticipating a customer’s every need. We aim to unlock experiences and possibilities not just in travel but the broader lifestyle experiences with activities clustered into three categories — Stay, Work, Cheers— and, lastly, "Business Accelerators". This new brand architecture mirrors our aim to bring augmented hospitality to our customers.
Keeping this vision in mind, Cygnett offers a wide range of hospitality solutions — upscale, five stars, midscale, budget and economy. CH&RPL is a dynamic, progressive and tech-savvy hospitality company with a threefold ‘Vision 2025’ strategy in place, which focuses on expansion, innovation and transformation.
Currently, we have hotels in India and Nepal; we now have ambitions of expanding our footprint across South East Asia and the Middle East, two markets that hold immense potential. We aspire to create a portfolio of 102 hotels by 2025 through the franchise and manchise route, along with enlarging our ‘COZZET by Cygnett’ portfolio of budget hotels. Besides this, we will be launching a new asset of boutique luxury wellness and lifestyle brand called VEDA.
At CH&RPL, we are assiduously working to improve our EBIDTA and introduce new hospitality concepts that maximise value for our customers and investors. As a brand, we believe in constantly going back to the drawing board even with our existing properties, to see how we can change things for the better. You can expect to see and hear a lot about Cygnett hotels in the coming days.
We are responsive to the demands of a rapidly changing world without compromising on our founding tenets of quality, comfort and outstanding service. For Cygnett, and for most hotel brands, technology will be a core enabler in the future. Cygnett deploys technology in significant ways. It is no secret that the hospitality world is changing due to digitisation and technology advancement. We are also developing new technologies. We are rapidly building Cygnett’s next-gen AI-driven technology engine, christened ‘CygnettCX’, which comprises several inter-meshed components, including an information-rich and user-friendly website, a Central Reservations System(CRS), an Online Reputation Management(ORM) and a service monitoring module, all supported by powerful artificial intelligence and data analytics to deliver a personalised experience to every customer. We will be introducing a cognitive layer to our upgraded website with tools such as robotic chat box to ease guest navigation. We will also be developing a blockchain-powered loyalty ecosystem with an emphasis on creating interesting guest experiences and ensuring the entire process, from checking-in to checking-out is seamless. Technology will play a rather large role in attracting the tech-savvy millennial generation.
However, while hotel aggregators focus on technology more than on service; at Cygnett we do the opposite. At our core, we place warmth of service. We have specially designed services to cater to a niche segment of the audience with our Cygnett Lite and Cygnett Express brand, where the emphasis is on budget accommodation without compromising the service quality. At Cygnett, our focus is also to constantly innovate to create immersive ‘Cygnetture’ experiences that go beyond the stay. The experiences are transformative culturally, technologically and even physically as far as our products go. A landmark initiative at Cygnett Hotels is to combine the best of two seemingly opposite worlds – old-world hospitality and new-era technology. Far from compromising on the foremost tenets of hospitality — which includes interacting with each guest and get to know them well — we are leveraging the latest technology to support this very core value. Technology empowers us and helps us to cater to the needs of our customers. In turn, we empower our customers to offer us valuable feedback and enable us to improve our products.
Increasingly, hospitality will have to work on issues of sustainability; the hotel industry is often accused of leaving behind a huge carbon footprint, which is not entirely untrue. While all our hotels run 'Save water' and 'Turn off the electricity while away' initiatives, our Nainital property ran an afforestation campaign by planting new trees. The hotels of the future will have to be both sustainable and tech-driven to be able to sustain the interest of the next generations that are demanding accountability on both fronts.
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