Leading the way to survive, revive and resurge

The Indian hospitality industry stalwarts came together at the 5th edition of BW HOTELIER Indian Hospitality Summit and Awards 2020 to share some of their key learnings and the way forward for the industry.

The Indian hospitality industry is currently witnessing a massive shift in its market trends, customer patterns, new demands and implementing improved health and sanitisation protocols. While ensuring all these the industry also needs to make sure that it stays competitive and progressive.  

Hospitality industry stalwarts came together at the 5th edition of BW HOTELIER Indian Hospitality Summit and Awards to share some of their key learnings and the way forward for the industry.  

The panellists for the first session, of the first day, on leadership included: Prabhat Verma, Executive Vice President- Operations- South India, International and Ancillary Businesses, IHCL; Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts; Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and VP Operations, Radisson Hotel Group; Puneet Dhawan, Senior VP Operations-India and South Asia, Accor; Neeraj Govil, Senior Vice President- South Asia, Marriott International; Sunjae Sharma, VP Operations, Hyatt India and Anil Chadha, COO, ITC Hotels. 

The engaging panel was moderated by Mandeep S Lamba, President (South Asia) HVS ANAROCK.

In his opening comments Lamba of HVS ANAROCK reassures investors, hotel owners, people who are trying to make their careers in the hospitality industry and all other stakeholders. He says, “This is a temporary hit and two-three years down the line there is going to be a huge bounce back that the industry will witness." 

In the past couple of months, the hotel sector had to think on its feet and come up with the most out of the box ideas to maintain the cash flows. Neeraj Govil, Marriott International stated that during this process they have opened several new revenue streams. He added, “The entire gamut of operational costs today, be it fixed, or variable is under intense scrutiny. Lowering of costs will have to have industry wide applicability or the business will struggle in financial terms.” 

As far as the design of the hotels is concerned Bhatnagar, Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts mentions that there are certain transformations that are happening. He says, “We are looking at repurposing the public spaces and coming up with different kind of efficiencies that we can implement in our restaurants, ball rooms and more. When you design a hotel, you need to be mindful of what you are delivering in terms of value to all stakeholders.”   

Prabhat Verma, IHCL informs that they are nearly operating just 50 per cent of their hotels including the international destinations as well. “The customers expect full services even in these circumstances only because they trust you fully,” he adds. 

The panellists agreed that the pandemic has presented an opportunity to bring the industry in position of strength for the longer term.   

Adding to the discussion, Zubin Saxena, Radisson Hotel Group says, “Our fixed costs should be in line with the global standards and should attract more investments consequently leading to growth of the industry.” 

Speaking about ancillary revenues, Saxena says, “The value chain is not restricted to only the F&B part of the business. The new revenues have to be scalable and large enough for the business to be able to focus on them.”

Emphasising on the great opportunity to utilise technology into the business and implement changes as per the guest behaviours, Puneet Dhawan, says, “It is not a unilateral decision that we can make as brands or hoteliers to use technology. We have to do it as per the acceptance of our guests. Listening, engaging, and interacting with the guests is essential while we design the services for the future.” 

It is paramount that the Covid- 19 pandemic has redefined the hygiene standards and standards of service for the hospitality industry. Commenting on the new normal Anil Chadha, ITC Hotels says, “The new normal will be built on health, hygiene and safety. The customer is very nervous, with the 'new normal' and upgraded hygiene standard we need to reassure the customer. Perception is especially important in our industry; we not only need to eliminate the germs but also the anxiety.” 

Sunjae Sharma of Hyatt India believes that hoteliers need to start learning from history and then realign their services. “We are in the aspirational business and need to rewrite what we provide according to the new normal,” he adds. 

The session presented great learnings and viewpoints from the world of hospitality and was gripping till the end. In the short term, the pandemic has certainly presented a blow to the industry but eventually it will not be able to hamper the warmth and the smile of Indian hospitality.  


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