Talking hospitality

5 Jan 2021 by Business Traveller India
Novotel Vizag Facade

India’s hospitality industry is constantly upgrading its products and services to gain customer confidence in this revival phase. Business Traveller India talks to Ravi Rai, cluster general manager, Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach, Novotel Vijayawada Varun, and The Bheemili Resort Managed by Accor for insights on the sector.

In terms of room occupancy, what has been the response so far?

During the initial unlock phase, India’s hotel sector was visibly one of the worst-hit segments of the economy.

Gradually and thankfully, we have been witnessing pent up demand in hotel bookings as the travellers are now willing to step out with safety precautions laid down by the government.

Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach, Novotel Vijayawada Varun and The Bheemili Resort Managed by Accor are ALL SAFE certified properties that further help us to gain the consumer confidence as we enjoy 60-70 per cent of room occupancy currently in all the three properties.

Leisure staycations, workation, short getaways and domestic corporate FITs movements are the trends that are showing signs of an increased uptick in terms of demand whereas corporate movements are on hold due to travel restrictions.

What changes are you witnessing in the consumer behaviour/pattern?

Safety and hygiene are at the heart of any traveller looking to stay in a property. In the pre-covid world, the amenities, culinary excellency and recreational facilities offered by the hotel were the top priority for travellers except now they are more determinant about the safety protocols followed by the hotel.

The guests are now very conscious before booking a room and in terms of accommodation they earlier requested for an extra bed in the same room but now they prefer taking extra rooms highlighting their major concerns towards health and safety.

Ravi Rai, Cluster General Manager, Novotel Visakhapatnam, Novotel Vijayawada and The Bheemli Resort

How are Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach, Novotel Vijayawada Varun and The Bheemili Resort Managed by Accor regaining customer confidence?

As mentioned earlier, all the three properties are ALL SAFE certified by Accor and are amongst the first ones to get approved of the title. These safety protocols helped us to regain confidence where on the arrival of each guest, we brief them about our internal hygiene and safety audits.

To ensure that the guests trust us and are up to speed with the brand offerings, we have started conducting online classes around food and wellness. We have also started promoting wellness at-home packages, food deliveries, and takeaway that follows stringent safety and cleanliness guidelines.

For enhanced guests’ experience, the properties are also rolling out contactless experiences by adopting contactless payment or contactless menu to name a few along with various digital innovations. The hotels have received tremendous response in these uncertain times through these efforts.

Share your insights on the change of business and leisure hospitality trends in southern India amidst the pandemic?

In the current environment, discerning leisure and family travellers looking for holistic experiences are dominating the market when we talk about leisure hospitality trends.

Our wellness retreat property The Bheemili Resort is gaining momentum from local travellers for its rejuvenating experiences where the guests love the scenic break. In terms of leisure travel, the major changes are travellers increasing interest in longer stay ‘workations’ (as people are now working from home), sustainable tourism and short getaways.

As leisure is picking up, business travel is showing limited signs of recovery due to the corporate sector still managing to set up to the norms of the ‘new normal’.

Your thoughts on the hospitality industry revival, keeping in mind the ongoing scenario?

The domestic and local travel will have a strong foothold as many travellers would want to break away from their monotonous life. Domestic would also be an easier option which will further avoid the hassle of travel restrictions that comes along with international travel. The revival of the industry as a whole will entirely depend on when the vaccine will be launched in India.

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