Innovation: Key to Acing Communication
The best strategists in corporate communications and marketing have been pushed to their limits in terms of patience and creativity to tide through the pandemic. As they try to hold, retain, and grow their ‘brand value’ for their respective hotel chains, at a virtual panel discussion by BW HOTELIER, we discover their mantra.
The Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented situation for the hospitality industry. Everyone has had to recalibrate their strategies with changing guidelines as the world tries to grapple with the pandemic. Keeping a positive frame of mind, Deepa Misra Harris, Founder & CEO, BrandsWeLove feels that strong leadership and great communication will see us all through this crisis. She said that the collective effort from all hotels in terms of hygiene gives a sense of security to guests. “In fact, many customers did not even realize the kind of efforts hotels have already been taking to remain clinically clean.”
In its 10th WebBlast of the ‘Breaking The Pandemic’ series, BW HOTELIER organized a panel discussion on ‘Acing Communications in the New Normal’. The enlightening discussion was moderated by Deepa Misra Harris, Founder & CEO, BrandsWeLove and Former VP - Global Sales & Marketing, Taj Hotels, and esteemed panellists present were Rakhee Lalvani, Vice President - Public Relations and Corporate Communications, IHCL (Taj Hotels); Khushnooma Kapadia, Area Director - Marketing (South Asia), Marriott International Inc; Rajyasree Sen, Director, Global Communications India, Hyatt Hotels in India; and Amisha Gutgutia, Director - PR & Communications (India and South Asia), Accor Group.
Elaborating on how one can ace communication in the present scenario, Sen said, “Brands that are handling the best, speak only when required to do so - they do not have any knee-jerk reaction, remain transparent, and handle things with empathy.” Kapadia gave her opinion that brands need to really engage and put themselves out there to do a lot of community outreach. She added, “Hotels have been able to connect with their consumers, at a fast pace. At this time, it is needed to make sure that you communicate with the right sensitivity, which has been a learning experience.”
Experts believe that brand communication specialists need to remain positive while many of them had to completely change their strategy. Lalvani shared, “Pandemic has taught me to be patient and accepting of the situation. We need to engage with all stakeholders with empathy and transparency.” Referring to online channels of communication, Gutgutia informed, “Digital channels came in and helped us to connect with clients as well as with our team. It has been a hard journey, and the hospitality industry will have a hard time recovering from it. But we will do it.”
Undeniably, the pandemic has led industry players to look for various innovative ways to revamp their businesses. Sen stated that everyone needs to think beyond what was done until now and that the innovation is the need of the hour. “Within a month of the pandemic we started home deliveries,” she shared. Taking the discussion further, Kapadia stated, “I think the hospitality landscape has been predominantly traditional but with the paradigm shift that is happening, I feel the advent of technology will be the defining factor.” Harris also shared that technology as well as marketing strategies will change with time and demand generation will be the biggest challenge. She added, “People are changing their business strategies.”
Sharing trends on where tourists are going to come from, Lalvani brought to notice, “Rebound will depend on domestic tourism from the short to the medium term. Within domestic tourism, we are witnessing trends for driving vacations.” She stated that there will be a lot of focus on health and wellbeing. “Tourism vacation hotspots will be out of fashion; secluded and safe destinations will gain importance.” Furthermore, she added that another trend likely to pick up is work from home to ‘work from hotel’ or ‘work from resort’. “The spotlight would shift to wellness, mindful travel, and sustainable travel,” Lalvani said.
Luxury with maximised hygiene
Many industry experts hold the view that double HH (Hotels as Hospitals) is likely to confuse consumers and would be wrong to make them think of hotels as hospitals. After all, no one likes going to a hospital. A question arises why customers would then want to come to hotels. Elaborating on the matter, Sen declared that it is important to start instilling confidence in guests that hotels will offer the best of luxury with maximized hygiene. “Customise, innovate, and redesign the experience for guests; let people know that our colleagues are working in the hotels and even the General Managers are living in the hotel.” “If it is safe for us to work in the hotels then it is safe for consumers to come in and let us look after them,” Rajyasree Sen stated on an optimistic conclusive note.
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