Features

Interview: Sunjae Sharma, vice president of Operations, Hyatt India

31 Aug 2020 by Business Traveller India
Sunjae Sharma, vice president of Operations, Hyatt India

Currently, tech-driven operations and contactless guest experiences form a vital part of the hospitality brands worldwide. We talk to an industry expert to understand how one of the top hotel labels, Hyatt is transforming its services under the current scenario, in India.

Your views on how India’s hospitality sector can revive itself in this pandemic crisis?

The world of travel and hospitality, as we knew it, has fundamentally changed. This has transformed the way we travel, stay, dine and socialise. With a focus on safety first and wellbeing always, hotels need to innovate and implement enhanced protocols that help guests, as well as colleagues to feel comfortable. Alongside, there are various experiences which need to be reimagined for a new normal, such as:

Less contact, more care: Digital amenities through upgraded apps and web experiences will give guests more control over how they connect with a hotel. Automated engagement would reduce the number of touchpoints for guests.

Feeding the senses: Offering new dining experiences, such as private dining in a premium suite, intimate meals or ensuring physical distancing in the common dining area among others. The need of the hour is also to introduce new QR codes display menus so guests can browse options and order from their own mobile device at the hotel.

Curated with care: Using automation to avoid or minimise human contact with exposed surfaces should be a priority. Hotels could optimise guest room décor and amenities to remove some unnecessary items to avoid physical contact. Deploying smart practices to sanitise and clean exteriors are also expected to become the norm.

While attracting guests to keep the economic engines running is critical, caring for the employees is equally important. Hotels should ensure that there are strict measures in place to ensure the safety of all employees.

How is digitalisation playing a key role in the current functioning of Hyatt properties across India?

For the hospitality sector, technological innovations have always been a way of ensuring that guests have a more seamless experience.

Our hotels are introducing enhanced digital amenities through the World of Hyatt app that will allow guests to choose how they connect with us. We are giving guests and members greater control of their hotel journey and focusing on a more holistic sense of wellbeing from pre-arrival to checkout and beyond.

Through a new, exclusive collaboration with Headspace, a healthcare company, guests, members and colleagues can now use exercise packages which include guided meditation and sleep content on the World of Hyatt app, either on their in-room TVs or while on the road.

We have installed glass bottling plants at two of our properties, Hyatt Regency Delhi and Park Hyatt Hyderabad. Apart from promoting sustainability, these plants ensure complete hygiene as each bottle is rinsed, cleaned and sterilised with ultra-violet rays without any human contact.

Our hotels Alila Fort Bishangarh and Grand Hyatt Mumbai offer virtual site inspections to the guests while selecting event venues.

How is the brand catering to the rising trend of hotels offering ‘day use office spaces’ for professionals? 

We have introduced new workspace concepts across several of our hotels and brands to help guests enhance their work routines while being ensconced in luxurious surroundings.

Our hotels such as Grand Hyatt Mumbai, Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore, Hyatt Place Hyderabad  Banjara Hills are offering sanitised and personalised working spaces for business travellers.

Sanitisation at Hyatt property

With hotels opening up, how is Hyatt adapting to the changing guest behaviour/patterns?

As the lockdown is gradually lifting across the country, people are looking for indulgent short breaks, in or around their own city to reconnect and unwind.

We are reimagining guest experiences such as private check-ins in the lobby and private dining too. These new experiences also include preferences like scheduling housekeeping, choosing between pick-up or knock-and-go food orders, mobile key entry, contactless check-in and checkout and more.

Just to cite an example, at Hyatt Pune, we are converting two of our garden suites which include rooms that open to private gardens into a premium dining facility. So, guests can have a gourmet dining experience as our chef sets up a live cooking area and personal al fresco barbeque for them.

The hotel will also convert its poolside lawn into a sprawling outdoor restaurant, and the executive lounge into a Deli snacks bar with tables placed as per social distancing guidelines. This is so guests can enjoy both indoor and outdoor seating with a great city view and their personalised space.

Other new dining offerings are the buffet-style meals that are curated and proportioned for each dining table at Hyatt Place Hyderabad Banjara Hills.

How is the brand altering its rewards programme to accommodate the transition in the travel and tourism sector?

We are widening the benefits available to our members and guests through the World of Hyatt programme.

In addition to taking advantage of our flexible cancellation policies, World of Hyatt members can have a stress-free stay assured by extended loyalty benefits along with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols through Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment.

Globally, all members can earn triple points on eligible spend starting with their second qualifying stay during the offer period. Participating Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide include 17 brands such as Hyatt Regency, Andaz and Hyatt Place.

‘Bonus Journeys’ is another way for Hyatt to extend care to World of Hyatt members as they begin planning future travels.

hyatt.com

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Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
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