‘We expect 2024 to be better over last year’

Acknowledging the burgeoning demand within the market, Jai Chugh, General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Gurugram Baani Square, feels there is room for adding more inventory in NCR by 2024

“Our commitment to service and a culture of care is what sets DoubleTree by Hilton Gurugram Baani Square apart. Our guests can enjoy a memorable experience with DoubleTree’s celebrated approach to hospitality, starting with the brand’s signature, warm DoubleTree cookie,” says General Manager Jai Chugh. The hotel is known for its refined aesthetics, modern interiors, fine cuisine, exceptional venue spaces and warm hospitality. Situated in Sector 50, the hotel has established itself as an ideal destination for business and leisure guests with its close proximity to Baani Square’s shopping boutiques and restaurants, Good Earth City Centre, Golf Course Extension Road and Unitech Cyber Park. Its well-appointed 201 rooms and suites offer high speed wi-fi, 55” HDTV, a work desk, seating area and a safe along with accessible rooms for the specially-abled. The hotel has four spacious meeting rooms, two indoor and two outdoor venues fully equipped to host social and corporate events. Not to forget, a rooftop infinity pool that offers stunning skyline views of the city.

Excerpts from an interview with Chugh:

You played an instrumental role in converting Hilton Garden Inn to DoubleTree by Hilton, what were the learnings and challenges in the process? 

Rebranding, while fostering innovation and creativity, presents notable challenges. As a prominent figure in the global hospitality landscape, Hilton maintains robust brand standards and a dedicated support infrastructure, facilitating a smoother transformation process than initially anticipated. Throughout the renovation and enhancement initiatives, including the elevation of room aesthetics and the incorporation of Smart 55-inch TVs in guest accommodations, alongside refurbishments of food and beverage outlets, the hotel has transitioned to a full-service model, marking a significant milestone.

Amidst the evolution, my tenure as the hotel’s General Manager has been characterised by both valuable insights and formidable obstacles. The initial two years were primarily dedicated to steering the establishment through the turbulent waters of the pandemic, necessitating substantial investments of time and resources into fortifying hygiene and safety protocols, as well as fostering the professional growth of our team members. Concurrently, we successfully navigated the transition from a focussed service to a full-service paradigm, orchestrating strategic enhancements to various service areas while maintaining business continuity.

This transformative journey has been instrumental in honing my leadership skills and refining my understanding of effective time and task management, underscored by the imperative to optimise resource utilisation. Embracing the challenge of reshaping the hotel's image through comprehensive service improvements has underscored the importance of proactive engagement and strategic foresight in driving sustainable growth and excellence in hospitality.

How has been 2023 for Indian hospitality sector in general and for your property in particular? Do you see opportunities to add new inventory in the Delhi-NCR? 

Last year that is 2023 our hotel witnessed remarkable success, which can be attributed to a diverse array of contributing factors. Notably, increased demand from business travellers, MICE and the wedding segment catalysed a notable 32 per cent increase in the Average Daily Rate (ADR), concurrently elevating our market share index to 6 per cent compared to the previous year. In response to evolving guest preferences, our hotel has transitioned away from standardised offerings, opting for more personalised hospitality. Embracing smart technology has helped us personalise guest experiences by leveraging comprehensive data analysis from previous visits. Consequently, this enhanced level of personalisation permeates all facets of the guest journey, spanning from promotional campaigns to service delivery and in-room amenities, thereby cultivating memorable experiences and positioning us distinctively amidst competitors. Furthermore, acknowledging the burgeoning demand within the market, we feel there is room for adding more inventory in NCR by the year 2024.

The domestic market has grown manifolds in importance post-pandemic. How is the segment contributing to the demand at Hilton Gurugram Baani Square? Do you see a revival in inbound tourism growth which has been in comparison slow to recover? 

Hospitality industry, prior to pandemic, was heavily dependent on Inbound business, however, the pandemic period brought to light the immense potential that domestic tourism holds, not just in India but globally as well. In 2023, we witnessed string demand from business and corporate groups that have long term negotiated rates.  This segment grew by 15 per cent in the year. We are expecting 2024 year to be better with a higher share of occupancy and RevPAR over last year with mice segment taking the center stage. We being a business hotel receive major share from corporate clients, MICE and weddings as key revenue contributors. There are other factors which leads to a successfully hotel segmentation i.e. Length of stay, day of week, source market, leisure and business travel.

With a diverse portfolio of F&B outlets, how is the segment contributing to your overall revenues? 

The hotel boasts a diverse array of dining venues, comprising four distinctive outlets: Glasshouse, an all-day dining restaurant featuring both à la carte and buffet options; Pose – The Fashion Bar, an elegant and trendy fashion bar offering indoor and outdoor seating; Vibe – The Sky Bar, Gurugram’s premier rooftop bar, ideal for corporate gatherings and social engagements; and Café O Lait, a charming patisserie renowned for its freshly baked delicacies, sumptuous cakes, pastries, and assorted beverages.

Given that the F&B division contributes significantly to the hotel’s overall revenues, constituting approximately 30-32 per cent, it is imperative to continually innovate and offer compelling offerings to our discerning clientele.

We consistently explore untapped opportunities within our existing F&B infrastructure, aligning our business strategies and implementing innovative tactics to enhance F&B operations. Through meticulous efforts, we identify various avenues to drive revenue growth and integrate new business opportunities within our F&B model. Notably, our specialisation in corporate catering has yielded substantial incremental revenue, reflecting a commendable success.

Furthermore, in response to the preferences of patrons who opt for dining experiences within the comfort of their homes, we have introduced the ‘Delivering Happiness’ home delivery menu, extending our culinary offerings directly to their doorstep. We also extend exclusive benefits to our esteemed Hilton Honors members, allowing them to enjoy savings of up to 25 per cent off dining expenditures, in addition to earning 500 Bonus Points on eligible spends at any of our esteemed restaurants.

What makes your MICE facilities different from other competitors? What is your strategy to court the wedding and MICE segments?

Despite the lingering repercussions of the pandemic, our steadfast focus on health and safety measures has significantly bolstered corporate confidence in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) travel. At Hilton, we recognise the importance of aligning meetings and events with sustainable values, thereby benefitting both stakeholders and the environment. Through initiatives such as Carbon Neutral Meetings, we actively support sustainable development projects, reduce carbon emissions, and contribute to environmental preservation as part of our comprehensive Meet With Purpose programme.

What distinguishes our MICE facilities is the unwavering commitment of our dedicated team of experts, who meticulously oversee every aspect of planning, execution, and delivery. However, securing MICE and wedding business mandates a strategic approach, necessitating a thorough understanding of client requirements, competitive package offerings, and the delivery of unparalleled service. By tailoring packages to meet individual guest needs, offering competitive pricing, ensuring prompt responsiveness, and showcasing our track record of past successes, we strive to cultivate enduring relationships and foster meaningful networking opportunities within the industry.


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