‘2022 saw a huge bounce back, 2023 will be even stronger’
VITS Kamats Group Founder Dr Vikram Kamat speaks on what sets them apart and his plans for the coming year
When your grandfather and father are stalwart and seasoned hoteliers, choosing to be a part of the hospitality industry is most likely to be your first choice. So it happened with Dr Vikram Kamat. Carrying on the family tradition and with them as inspiration, he too became a hotelier after recognising the scope of F&B and focussed on growing the sector on highways with the Kamats brand and bringing four-star hotels in Tier II cities under the VITS umbrella. “Due to the huge gap in the market, it gained a lot of success,” says Dr Kamat, Group Founder, VITS Kamats Group.
Now, as the year is wrapping up, he looks forward to 2023 with high hopes. “The year 2022 witnessed a huge bounce back, from the lows of Covid19 to the highs of a strong recovery. It is a great feeling to make guests happy and hearing the cash register ring again. I believe 2023 is going to be even stronger with most hotels in our pipeline opening and various Kamats and Kamats Legacy also opening up,” shares Dr Kamat, who is of the view that pragmatism is the first and foremost skill required to achieve success in the hospitality industry due to the practical-skill based nature of the industry.
Kamats Legacy is premium dining space into which the VITS Kamats Group recently forayed. In Dr Kamat’s words, Kamats Legacy is all about focussing on giving authentic, varied and premium offerings to guests. “Kamats has already been the leader in the South Indian QSR space for the last 80 years and we knew many of our customers wanted more variety and more premium offerings in cities. That’s how Legacy was born, with the vision to tap into Kamats’ rich legacy of great South Indian food, from when it was introduced and became a category of restaurants in itself called Udupi restaurants,” the third-generation hotelier explains.
Being hopeful as he is for 2023, the hotelier has decided where his focus will be. “For the coming year, our focus will be on Maharashtra and Gujarat, which are our strongest markets, and we will add more hotels and restaurants here across Kamats and VITS brands,” says Dr Kamat. The brand is taking to digital transformation in the F&B sector. “Digitalisation has transformed the sector, from ordering and delivery optimisation to even better loyalty programmes and tracking. Now, being a traditional business, the teams need to get used to complimenting digital and physical world to maximise the available tools at their disposal,” he opines.
But it is not legacy alone that sets the VITS Kamats Group apart. It’s their approach to sustainability too. “While we do like other hotels’ various eco-friendly practices, what’s different about us is that our major sustainability initiatives are focussed on the sustenance of livelihood by skilling a new workforce into the industry, through the earn and learn programmes for Class 10 and onwards students. This is benefitting hugely in bridging the gap between job seekers and hospitality,” shares Dr Kamat.
Another advantage that the Group has is their diverse viewpoint when looking at hotels. Their strategy simply revolves around understanding the guests and making them happy. “Tier II and Tier III cities have equally big potential as the metros, only the hotel and restaurant formats/ configuration need to be different. Being an F&B company first, we see it as a restaurant with rooms rather than a hotel with a restaurant. So, we focus on restaurants, banquets and bar sales and have created focussed teams and programmes for the same. We also have focussed F&B brands which no other hotel chains, with the exception of ITC Hotels, has and so, in our segment, that’s a USP,” he reveals.
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