“The modern day business travellers are looking for a well curated blend of work and life”

Shuvendu Banerjee, GM, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okhla spoke to BW HOTELIER about the Delhi/NCR hospitality market, segments that will continue to drive the hotel’s performance and the changes brought about the pandemic.

Congratulations on your new assignment! You are back in Delhi after your 5-year stint at Crowne Plaza Kochi. How do you see the Delhi/NCR hospitality market now?

Delhi has always been home for me and I am extremely delighted to kick-start my new assignment at the South Delhi’s business and dining landmark – Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla.

The modern day business travellers are looking for a well curated blend of work and life. This means they will want to focus not just on the state of the art infrastructure such as seamless Wi-Fi, video conferencing facilities, meeting spaces etc. but also watch out for means of rejuvenation in the form of invigorating bar experiences, live performances, de-stressing massages, fitness regimes, experiential activities and much more to unwind.

As a Crowne Plaza brand, we have been a driver of this transformation with our ‘We’re All Business, Mostly’ strategy. Today, work is more digital, more connected, more mobile and more flexible and we strive to offer the pre-requisite infrastructure to our guests. The ‘mostly’ is a wink and a nod to the recognition of the fact that we give guests ample opportunity to relax and recharge.

At Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okhla, we have curated several experiences such as Theme Breaks for meetings, Walk In wine cellar, barbecue nights, regional cuisine themed dinners, unique dining experiences, food challenges, Chef’s table and many more over the time to offer exhilarating experiences to our guests.

What have been the changes in the traveller's preferences?

In the current scenario, the guests are looking for safe, comfortable stays near their houses. Due to this, ‘Staycations’ have emerged as the most popular trend of the year. People who have been working from home are looking up for changed settings for creative inspirations and work-cations have seen popularity like never before. Wellness segment has become an industry of its own and guests are open to splurge over signature massages and healing therapies followed by curated meals.

If I talk about the non-resident segment, the discerning guests with evolved palates are looking for great food, instagram-able ambience, novel cuisines, innovative concepts, personalised attention and off course top notch hospitality. The regional cuisines, home chef pop ups and heirloom recipes have caught the fancy of the millennials. Even for the weddings, the couples are looking for more personalised and intimate experiences right from theme to food and beverage offerings.

What are the top USPs of Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla that you would like to highlight in its promotions?

We swear by our brand promise of ‘Making Business Travel Work’ by blending work and life together in our culture. It is not just about what we do but about how we do it. Be it dreamy wedding set ups with our ‘Pheras By The Poolside’ concept or an intimate romantic dinner set ups with our ‘Dine Under The Stars’ offering, it is all about the level of personalisation that creates the magic.

What drives Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla’ business more apart from room occupancy? What are your plans to re-energise the business?

Since the domestic market and wedding business have witnessed the maximum green shoots during such extraordinary times, food and beverage is the game changer as far as revenues are concerned. The guests are well travelled with evolved palate; hence food becomes a basic consideration while choosing a venue for staycations as well as get-togethers.

Health and immunity have been the buzzwords of the season. Keeping this in mind, we have set up a ‘Wellness Counter’ at our all day dining restaurant Edesia which offers Ayurvedic drink Kadha, health teas, immunity booster shots and much more. We also reach out to the guests via our Food Takeaway and Home Delivery services such as Zomato and Swiggy. We have crafted meal combos across cuisines to cater to diverse set of palates. We also curate occasion and festival specific meal boxes and ‘thalis’ on advance orders. Soon, we will be launching our ‘Brunch on the wheel’ and ‘Kids Party Boxes’ on popular guest demand.

What are the changes the pandemic has brought to the hospitality sector in terms of doing business?

The hospitality industry has evolved owing to various emerging trends during such extraordinary times. This includes a new set of target groups seeking Staycations and Work-cations experiences, digitisation of communications in terms of QR Code based menus and collaterals and digital payments, revamping of cleanliness protocols and hygiene measures, alternate revenue streams such as Office Spaces, outdoor catering, packed lunches and chef at home experiences and many more. Fortunately, hospitality industry has been on the most agile and adaptable to adjust itself in the new normal.

What according to you would be critical for the industry’s revival? Which segments are going to drive the performance of hotels?

The promise and delivery of highest level of safety standards as well as guest experience will be the major driver of the industry going forward. If I talk about segments, food and beverage experiences and intimate weddings are the areas to watch out for. Gradually, MICE business will also open up which would a positive sign. The hospitality professionals have worked like front line workers during such unprecedented times. Now, I urge the support of our guests as well as travel and tourism fraternity so that industry goes back to its golden days.

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