Opinion by Chris Franzen, Area vice president – west India and general manager, Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences

The year 2021, a new page has opened in the book of time for us to write our success stories. 2020 was an extremely difficult and challenging year for our industry and for many of us also on the personal front. We were shaken up, stirred and taken completely unaware. We learnt the essence of our mere existence, what mattered most and took vows to rescript our future making it more meaningful. If there is one important lesson we have learnt from the wisdom left behind by 2020, it would be to cultivate an immense sense of gratitude for everything in life. Gratitude to our families for their continuous support throughout the pandemic. They deserve special recognition being the silent backers of our successes.

Our industry is barely recognisable from only nine months ago and we’ve made it through 2020. But not without a lot of mental scars, pain, frustration, and in some cases pure exhaustion. The human toll is tragic. Losing colleagues and friends not merely by attrition but by the pandemic and having to accept a new economic reality on sustaining our livelihoods.

But we have also learnt to embrace a more positive mindset, spending more time with family at home, re-establishing relationships, finding joy in focusing inward reflecting upon ourselves – taking a breath, taking stock and appreciating the simpler things in life.

Bygone realisations 

If I had to choose only one word to describe 2020, it would be “intense”. We have had the full spectrum from exhaustion, anxiety, sadness, saying our goodbyes to colleagues and friends, to joy and rediscovery. All very intense! Having gone through other crises, I am nevertheless hopeful! We as an industry are extremely resilient. We always bounced back. And that should give us hope for the future!

On the business side, with a short term outlook, good times are ahead for us. We are staring at a soft Q1 beginning followed by an improved Q2, a robust Q3 and strong growth in Q4. It is because our political and economic climate is improving steadily and a determined strategic drive is being felicitated towards inoculating the country. The economy was never the problem, the virus was and remains the primary obstacle to economic recovery for the hospitality industry.

Guests expectations 

Guests will continue to want a contactless environment going forward. Digital check-ins, QR Code Menu, strictly sanitised fitness centres and a renewed focus on sustainability will go a long way in pleasing guests.

The trend of guests booking hotel’s luxury apartments on short-term rentals for families staying with kids studying and working remotely, will continue another six to eight months. In light of this, Hyatt also has recently launched the Hyatt Delhi Residences in the strategic location of Aerocity catering to this growing demand. Campaigns like “The Great Re-locate” to drive long stay rentals with minimum 30 days length of stay, will be dominating the marketing spends for rooms and apartments across the digital and social spectrum.

Destination travels to drive-down locations will also see a surge in leisure travel to some of the exotic locales like Hyatt Place Hampi, Alila Bishangarh etc. Local staycations will continue to drive demand for city hotels like Hyatt Regency Kolkata, Chennai, Lucknow and Ahmedabad as great weekend escapes.