We Are In Survival Via Revival Mode: Experts

The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the largest service industries in India and probably one of the most affected by the ongoing pandemic. The Indian hospitality industry has witnessed a sudden dip in their revenue and are working towards revival while the fear of traveling and staying in hotels remains.

To discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to trace the future of the hospitality industry in India, BW HOTELIER organised a one-of-a-kind virtual event— Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit 2020. The panel had stalwarts from the domain of hospitality industry - Sanjay Sethi, Managing Director and CEO, Chalet Hotels Ltd; Ranjit Batra, President - Hospitality, Panchshil Realty; JB Singh, President & CEO, InterGlobe Hotels; Nirupa Shankar, Executive Director, Brigade Enterprises Ltd; Omer Bin Jung, Executive Director, Hospitality, Prestige Group; Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director, MBD Group and Parikshit Sen Gupta, Global CFO & Head of M&A & Assest Management, CG GRoup. 

Starting the discussion, Sanjay Sethi (Moderator) quoted a report which revealed that people are still fearful of travelling and staying in hotels. Stressing the current dire situation, Sonica Malhotra said, "we are 90 per cent on survival mode and 10 per cent revival mode. The guests’ confidence is increasing every passing day and this proportion will change month by month as we move forward."

In regard to investment, she stated, “If you have money it is the time to actually buy the hotel”. Predicting the outlook for future she said, “Looking at the micro-economic situation of shrinkage of consumption, the segment to grow would be the budget hotels." 

When asked about the current situationNirupa Shankar said, “I also think we are in survival mode until the hotels are making losses. I do believe thing are looking better month by month. October and November months would be busy period for hotels.” Talking about the strategy, she said, “Enhancing revenue, multi-skilling staff for efficiency and containing costs is our strategy now.” 

She also appreciated the recent regulations by the Government and said, the recent regulation, regarding number of people, and liquor back in the properties will surely help in revenue and business overall. On an optimistic note, she said, "the worst is behind us". Answering a question on investment, she stated, "if I had to invest, I would look towards the wellness segment." 

Explaining the outlook for the future, JB Singh said, "it is definitely a survival mode, the economy upward movement is not going to start very soon. It is way too soon to predict the revival. We need to possibly tighten the belt more as we are getting into the new phase." 

On the policy front, he added, "we do not have enough demand drivers in India for the hotel industry. So we really need to work on policy. Also, we should work with the Government to create a conducive environment." Speaking on the investment, Singh added that one needs to focus on the opportunistic business out there. 

Focusing on the current situation, Parikshit Sen Gupta said, "In the next 12 months our priority is to save the jobs. Thereafter, the urgency will be preventing fiscal defaults and statutory defaults". On managing funds, Gupta added, "brands have big roles to play in reducing their operating cost. You can not save payroll cost by firing people at lower level. Brands can really save payroll cost by taking the top players out. We should insist ROI based marketing expense. We should not allow the money to be spent for just the sake of it." 

Speaking on the current situation, Omer bin Jung said, “Nobody imagined a world without customers. We are in survival via revival mode. He added that Covid-19 is a passing shower it is not climate change. We have not implemented any pay cut for the employees working at lower levels."  

Focusing on future outlook he said, "we need to reinvent ourselves and figure out what we need to do till the upswing kicks in. We are focusing more on holding on the right resources because we feel these are the people who will drive the revival for us. Today, everyone in the hotel is a sales person - right from the GM to the security guard." He further added, "I hope humanity has learnt its lesson on how to offer and operate ethical and environment friendly business." 

Speaking on the ongoing situation, Ranjit Batra said, We are in survival mode with a strategy to revive. While we are surviving we are doing things like keeping jobs intact, giving dignity to our people, our assets, which I guess will give us a better revival chance." He further added, “We don’t have any pressure from our investors so I consider us fortunate to not having to take any drastic measures." 

Speaking about the priorities in last six months, Ranjit said, "we were very quick to realise the developing situation and take responsible measures that are benefitting us today."


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