Upswing in Weekend Staycations and Festive Staycations

The recovery is anticipated to be slow and gradual although we all wish it to be much faster. Lakshmanan Ramanathan, General Manager, The Westin Chennai Velachery shares more.

Do tell us a little about the current hospitality market scenario in the city of Chennai? 

Post unlock, we are witnessing most metro cities reopening rapidly, and however, Chennai has been growing gradually than the most. We are already witnessing positive steps on the recovery front on the F&B business in various pockets. With increased awareness on the new normal among the customers we are confident that this will only continue to grow. Contact less menu options with QR codes, contact less payments, safe distancing between tables, increased frequency of sanitisation, specialised training of our Kitchen & F&B Associates are some of the steps that will help build confidence in the minds of the consumer. The F&B space in hotels now have a new re-imagined face with various innovative offerings coming to the forefront such as F&B take away options, Brunch at home on weekends, boutique weddings with limited guests, etc.  Also, we at the Westin Chennai launched post lockdown, home delivery from all our Restaurants, have our Chef cook a meal at your home or curate a wedding event at the hotel keeping in line with all government guidelines. Our property is rated as one of the finest in the city with wellness being a key USP of the hotel, our guests are confident of our sanitisation protocols while delivering exceptional experiences at all touchpoints of the hotel.  

With the current booking trends in mind, when do you expect the business to revert to pre-Covid figures? 

As our hotel opened and the lockdown relaxations were implemented apart from our core revenue streams of accommodations and dining, we have also been focusing on weddings and social events. Looking at the demand for weddings, we launched three wedding packages at three different price points with different inclusions, promoting Shaadi by Marriott in Chennai. Apart from Weddings, our home delivery programme, Marriott on Wheels and Chefs at Home are two Food & Beverage driven revenue streams that we are exploring in the city. To enhance its presence in the city, we have carried out various influencer activations, newspaper columns and social media campaigns to spread its visibility and drive additional revenue subsequently. Also, we have witnessed requirements for Laundry services from the neighboring areas and for which we launched doorstep laundry services with same day and pick up and drop. We are witnessing an upswing in Weekend Staycations and Festive Staycations post unlock as more and more families, honeymooner’s and pet families are looking for a quick and easy getaway without travelling out of the city. These are few of the current booking trends and we expect major recovery in H2, between 2022 and 2023.

In the absence of big events and weddings, how do you optimise revenue in the current scenario? According to you, which segments are going to propel footfalls this year? 

Weddings and socials and more exclusivity for boutique style instead of large-scale events, close knit family style events, domestic leisure, drive to destinations, socials and weddings are few segments that are going to propel footfalls this year. We are already witnessing positive steps on the recovery front on the F&B business in various pockets. With increased awareness on the new normal among the customers, we are confident that this will only continue to grow. Contact-less menu options with QR codes, contact-less payments, safe distancing between tables, increased frequency of sanitisation, specialised training of our Kitchen & F&B Associates are some of the steps that will help build confidence in the minds of the consumer. The F&B space in hotels now have a new re-imagined face with various innovative offerings that have come to the forefront such as F&B take away options, Brunch at home on weekends, etc. The Hotel is also offering a packaged deal for weddings which will include F&B, Decor as well as stay making The Westin Chennai Velachery a ‘One Stop Shop’ in terms of your events.  Also, we at the Westin Chennai do provide home delivery of your favorite delicacies from all our Restaurants, have our Chef cook a meal at your home or curate a wedding event at the hotel keeping in line with all government guidelines and regulations.

How do you respond to customer fears and tailor your guest experience in the current situation? 

The current scenario has brought in a sea of change in the consumer behavior and expectations. The basic criteria for any customer to choose a venue depends on the highest levels of cleanliness and hygiene maintained at all touch points by the hotel. We have created an exclusive video highlighting all our steps and initiatives implemented on the basis of the new normal, safety & hygiene standards. Our teams undertake various measures to stay connected with our guests at all times and build on our customer confidence by showcasing our Marriott’s Commitment to Clean.

Navigating through this pandemic has been a learning curve for all. As a hotelier, what are your   major learnings from this pandemic?  

As a hotelier, navigating through this pandemic has indeed been a learning curve for everyone, for me it has been, to design various new revenue opportunities/verticals, managing the hotel with minimal cost structures, without impacting guest and associate guest experiences. Innovation in the realm of our customer offerings will be the key and drive the growth for our industry. The recovery is anticipated to be slow and gradual although we all wish it to be much faster. We need to work in unison with all stake holders to the benefit of the industry and come out winning through this phase to achieve a semblance of normalcy. We have to carry through our learnings for the well-being of our associates, customers, guests and the larger industry workforce for a better tomorrow.

Can you share with us your plans for 2021? 

This year is going to be all the more critical as we would be looking to re-energize and ramp up to business levels, incorporate learnings in the new normal operations in the long run, keep sanitation at the forefront and will continue to do so as earlier and for the coming times as well.


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Lakshmanan Ramanathan The Westin Chennai Velachery

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