Levelling up with Disruptors: Changing Rules of the Emerging Hospitality Market

"For hotels, it is extremely important to deliver on consumer expectations," said Benita Sharma, Area Manager (Luxury-North) and General Manager, ITC Maurya.

DURING THE 4th BW Hotelier Indian Hospitality Summit and Awards, a General Managers’ Round Table was hosted where various eminent panellist discussed the changing rules of the emerging hospitality market. The panellists for the session were,  Benita Sharma (Area Manager Luxury-North and General Manager, ITC Maurya), Varun Chhibber (General Manager, The Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel & Residences), Nitesh Gandhi (General Manager, JW Marriott, New Delhi Aerocity), Kanika Hasrat (General Manager, Taj City Centre, Gurugram) and Gautam Anand (Founding Trustee, Cuisine India Foundation), Srijan Vadehra (General Manager, Conrad Bengaluru) and Samrat Dutta (General Manager, Taj Palace, New Delhi)

The conversation revolved around the changes expected in the hotel industry as a result of disrupters changing the landscape. The importance of technology and enhanced consumer experience were stressed. Here are the excerpts:

Benita Sharma, Area Manager (Luxury-North) and General Manager, ITC Maurya stated that the customer is looking for protection and consistency from the brand. Certain values are associated with the brand, which the consumer expects the brand to deliver on. For hotels, it is extremely important to deliver these expectations. She further stated that hotels too should we be taking the FMCG route to diversify and have a multi-brand strategy. From a multi-brand strategy would develop product flanking and brand extension, which would help hotels develop their product line.

Samrat Dutta, General Manager, Taj Palace, New Delhi was of the opinion that Airbnb tops the list when thinking about disruptors in the hotel space. Even though it operates in a different space as compared to luxury hotels, it has made hoteliers think about innovation.

According to Varun Chibber, General Manager, The Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel & Residences, in the future, technology will play a major role in the hotel industry with convenience and comfort remaining the key focus areas. According to him public spaces in hotels will be used to build communities. Whether it is a lounge in the lobby or an anteroom, the focus of most public spaces would be to generate conversations and therefore, revenue will a byproduct of these communities. Community building will be the focus of future hotel spaces.

While all the panellists agreed on the benefits of the technology they did stress that technology would not be able to replace human touch in the hospitality sector, which is essential for an industry focused on consumer experience.

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