‘Managing consumer expectations is the most exciting challenge we face’
Sylvain Laroche, Director of Operations, ibis & ibis Styles, India talks to BW HOTELIER about the emerging hospitality trends and shares his plans for expansion in India
Tell us more about the ibis and ibis Style brand concepts and the respective brand portfolios in India.
ibis is a smart economy brand from the Accor stable with 19 hotels across 13 cities in India. With close to 3,500 keys, ibis operates with two brands in India – ibis (18) and ibis Styles (1). ibis hotels are social hubs with trendy interiors, relaxed bars, flexible dining spaces and a passion for music. From a welcoming mobile check-in experience, in-room entertainment to curated playlists and exclusive gigs with up-and-coming musicians, ibis makes travel easy, affordable and fun. ibis brand across the world, promises modernity, comfort and service at the best price as also ensures it innovates constantly to offer its guests contemporary comfort.
Share the initiatives you took when there was fear about the infectious nature of Covid-19.
ibis has always prioritised the safety of its guests and employees and our hotels have always had high standards of hygiene and cleanliness all over the world. All the 19 ibis hotels across 13 cities in India have received the ALLSAFE label which ensures the highest standard of safety protocols to assure our guests and reinstate their trust in travel. At all ibis hotels, we implemented contactless experiences across all touchpoints at our hotels, including check-in and check-out, payment procedures, F&B offerings at the restaurant and through in-room dining as well. We had, as much as possible, eliminated items from the guest rooms to further reduce contact.
ibis Styles Goa Calangute
What, according to you, are the emerging hospitality trends and how will your brands leverage them for business recovery?
The global pandemic has changed the way we envision the world. It has altered our lifestyle and impacted our businesses. The road to recovery for the hospitality industry is an extension of last year’s approach, through a digitally enabled frontline workforce that is able to anticipate, gauge the pulse of guests and act quickly. The industry will have to adopt lean management strategies that help reduce waste and cut all non-emergent costs to run operations efficiently. This will help them be agile in decision-making as they rebuild for the next few years. The domestic leisure market is unequivocally critical for the entire hospitality industry as outbound tourism is still far-fetched. One thing that kept the industry alive was the motivation of leisure travellers who found different ways to utilise the lockdown and yet made the best of their vacation. Needless to say, that safety and sanitisation will be determinant for people planning their travel.
What challenges and opportunities are mid-scale and budget/ economy hospitality brands likely to face in the Indian market?
With an ever-evolving consumer in this fast-paced world, managing consumer expectations is the biggest and the most exciting challenge that we face but consumer-centricity is at the heart of brand ibis. We are always listening to the needs and expectations of our consumers and evolving accordingly. We have evolved progressively as per the expectations of the modern consumer and have successfully established ibis as one of the leading economy brands in the world.
How does it feel to be awarded the prestigious Medal of Honour by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs for your contribution during the initial Covid-19 days?
I’m humbled and honoured. I’m thankful to our compassionate team for the support that they have shown during these testing times. The courage and solidarity the team has shown in these dark days have been truly outstanding. This has pushed us as a team to work more selflessly and relentlessly for the people in need and to stand tall on Accor’s style to protect and welcome our guests.
Any plans for expansion?
ibis is a smart economy brand from the Accor stable with 19 hotels across 13 cities in India. We are continuing to expand our operations with ibis Vikhroli, Mumbai which will be opening soon, along with a few properties in the pipeline: ibis Styles in Goa (second in India), ibis in Hebbal, Bengaluru, and another ibis in Thane, Maharashtra.
Your advice to become a successful hotelier.
As hoteliers, providing a personalised, caring, and authentic experience for our guests is always our highest priority. It is crucial to remember that the hospitality industry is about making people feel warm and welcome. Despite the current situation, we urge our staff that they mustn’t forget to greet our guests with a smile, even if it is from behind a mask.
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