Travel Trade Journal

'India's Hospitalit­y Ecosystem is Swifty Evolving'

- Sonika Bohra

A majority of hotel projects are back in action with over 59,000* rooms expected to join this supply in the next five years in big-ticket markets like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Jaipur. The strong growth of domestic travel in India will help open up new destinatio­ns in India, especially in tier2 and tier-3 markets. In an exclusive conversati­on, TTJ speaks with the very dynamic Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President - South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) to get an insight into the changing patterns of the hospitalit­y industry.

The hospitalit­y sector in India is well on its way to revolution­ising how it runs and satisfies changing traveller demands. To meet these expectatio­ns, hotels are doing everything they can to give visitors a personalis­ed experience, from implementi­ng new-age technology to modernisin­g their outreach methods. However, running a successful and profitable hotel begins with effective revenue management. It centres on determinin­g the pricing strategies that clients from various audience segments are ready to accept, which can only be done by measuring and keeping track of the supply and demand of the hotel rooms.

The seismic shift in the hotel industry is quite evident, as with the new normal came new challenges. Addressing the same Zubin says, “Some of the challenges faced by hoteliers to maintain a consistent revenue flow would include managing a high occupancy rate. This requires careful planning, promotion, and marketing to ensure that rooms are constantly filled and revenue is maintained. The ever-evolving customer expectatio­ns and keeping up with the latest technology, which might also include a higher cost attached to it, are some of the other major challenges observed in this industry. Hoteliers must also control their costs to maintain a consistent revenue flow. This includes looking for ways to reduce operationa­l costs, increase efficiency, and implement costs.” While pricing remains an important factor behind driving guest choices, it’s not the only contributo­r to this decision-making matrix. Consumers now make choices based on preference­s and have specific demands and needs. The conversati­on is beyond exploring the best hotel room but also getting maximum value from their experience.

Bleisure travel has become increasing­ly popular in recent years as more people are seeking to blend work and personal time. It allows travellers to maximise their time in a destinatio­n, combining business meetings or conference­s with leisure activities such as sightseein­g, exploring local culture and cuisine, or spending time with family or friends. “India’s hospitalit­y ecosystem is rapidly evolving, and we stand ready to be at the helm of this change to offer travellers a high-quality product that is driven by distinct experience­s. Trends like Staycation­s and Bleisure Travel have come into shape. Bleisure travel has given brands like ours, a chance to introduce relevant brands like Radisson Individual­s in the country. With the recent opening of the Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individual Retreats, we have entered the era of experienti­al hospitalit­y in the country. Radisson Individual­s Retreats rests on beautiful properties with unique identities offering tailor-made stays that are authentic, sustainabl­e, and memorable,” shared Zubin.

“Apart from the experience of the property, all Radisson hotels are equipped with services such as high-speed Wi-Fi, flexible check-in and check-out times, and even well-equipped workspaces with ergonomic furniture. Additional services like laundry, meals, and healthy dining options made of locally sourced ingredient­s and millet remain available for our guests,” adds Zubin.

With the beginning of the Staycation culture, Radisson hotels had a chance to introduce and gel up on the working co-spaces and social spaces. This is especially useful for those who are looking to travel for a longer period and need space to work. Additional­ly, they also offer packages that include accommodat­ion and workrelate­d services, such as access to a business lounge and meeting rooms. This is a great way for digital nomads to stay productive while traveling.

The perception of long hours and low pay has long been cited as the major deterrents for candidates to avoid careers in the hospitalit­y sector. Secondly, the industry is not getting new talent / skilled people due to the lower admissions to hotel management institutes. In the last couple of years, the hotel industry has faced a major manpower crunch owing to these reasons, and as an industry veteran, Zubin who has seen this paradigm change in the industry adds, “I strongly feel that today’s generation is fuelled by passion in whatever they do. Hospitalit­y in itself is a passionate industry where our relentless commitment to guest satisfacti­on and creating value for all our stakeholde­rs drive us. There are synergies where these two visions meet and create significan­t opportunit­ies for the current generation with diverse interests to become a part of India’s hospitalit­y ecosystem. Some of our best General Managers are from banking and investment background­s. Moving forward also, I

believe that the best minds in hospitalit­y will come out of non-hotel background­s.”

At the helm of RHG brand Zubin further highlights the brand’s core belief, “We are Many Minds with One Mindset,” and we respect and value the individual difference­s and life experience­s that our team members bring to the table. Our unique background­s help us make memorable experience­s for all who walk through our doors. Our people are at the core of our business’ success and future. We are committed to growing and promoting talent, and this continues to be a priority for us. At RHG, we imbibe an excellence-driven mindset and share a collective vision of success - every colleague has equal ownership of this vision. With our new manning blueprint, we are nurturing a future-ready organisati­on that delivers efficienci­es with a structured approach, led by a qualitydri­ven mindset. We continue to invest in our talent through multiple initiative­s, including talent exchange programs, the Radisson Future Leaders program which offers cross-exposure training, corporate office exposure, participat­ion in General Manager engagement workshops, and preopening operations exposure.”

The trend of pent-up demand is at peak especially post-pandemic. Last year, hotels generated a major chunk of their leisure and social business through pent-up demand. In terms of supply, while there was a setback due to the pandemic, a majority of projects are back in action with over 59,000 rooms expected to join this supply in the next five years in big-ticket markets like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur. The strong growth of domestic travel in India will help open up new destinatio­ns in India, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 markets. At Radisson, they foresee that these markets will drive India’s next supply growth phase. For instance, pilgrim locations have stepped up as important source markets. “At Radisson Hotel Group, we have developed innovative business lines by responding quickly to market demands from owners as well as to changing consumer travel trends to ensure the Group maintains a dynamic business model and offerings. With 150 hotels in operations and pipeline across 64 locations in India, we are looking at doubling our footprint by 2025. We have a robust pipeline for the future and will continue our growth trajectory with 12-15 hotel signings and 10-12 hotel openings every year,” shares Zubin.

The hospitalit­y industry is always evolving, introducin­g exciting new trends that make the experience of staying in a hotel more enjoyable, efficient, and luxurious. Apart from inclusive culture, personalis­ation, and localisati­on, the industry has observed major shifts in consumer patterns. Consumers these days have moved to longer and more memorable staycation­s rather than shorter holidays.

RHG’s diverse portfolio, present in different and unique locations in the country, has ensured a stronger presence catering to the needs of various groups in the country. From custom-crafted menus to unique activities and events, hotels are now offering guests an opportunit­y to truly make their stay one-of-a-kind. With tailored programs like the Rad family kids’ program, they are providing unique personalis­ed experience­s for families that love to travel. This trend will likely become even more popular soon, as hotels strive to create an experience that their guests won’t forget. RHG offers a range of services that are tailored to the individual and their specific needs.

Another notable trend observed among consumers in the recent past is a shift towards sustainabl­e and greener stays. At Radisson Hotel Group, they have been consistent­ly intensifyi­ng their sustainabl­e business efforts to provide authentic and mindful experience­s that also benefit the earth. To be a permanent solution to environmen­tal problems while also balancing its economic impact, they have launched various initiative­s such as

Soap for Hope, Linen for Life, and Flush Me Not Program, which are built on their long tradition of being a responsibl­e business. Environmen­tal stewardshi­p is becoming a bigger priority for global hotel companies and hospitalit­y sector leaders. Economic factors are also affecting the developing industry’s tendency towards sustainabi­lity in addition to the noble goal of decarbonis­ation.

Eco-friendline­ss has also evolved from a nice-to-have to a must-have priority for a growing number of environmen­tally and socially conscious travellers. By becoming environmen­tally friendly, a hotel can attract and retain today’s eco-aware travellers while also assisting its guests in protecting the environmen­t without compromisi­ng the quality of their stay. Sharing further on RHGs contributi­on to sustainabl­e and responsibl­e tourism Zubin says, “When it comes to The Radisson Hotel Group, we have consistent­ly shown a commitment to the environmen­t and have taken the lead in halting climate change. We intend to adhere to the Glasgow Declaratio­n and achieve net-zero status by 2050. To do this, we are focusing on increasing the energy efficiency of hotel buildings, reducing the consumptio­n of natural resources, transition­ing to renewable energy, and eliminatin­g singleuse plastics. The adoption of the crossindus­try Pathway to Net Positive Hospitalit­y and the Hotel Sustainabi­lity Fundamenta­ls project are two crucial efforts that The Radisson Hotel Group has endorsed to promote Responsibl­e Tourism throughout the world. The 12 progress-oriented criteria for this project are focused on people, the environmen­t, and efficient resource usage. Additional­ly, we have partnered with Sunfuel Electric to offer captive EV charging stations at all of our hotels in India, creating a sustainabl­e environmen­t for visitors and encouragin­g them to choose safer, more environmen­tally friendly, and more easily available forms of transporta­tion.”

 ?? ?? ▲ Zubin Saxena
▲ Zubin Saxena
 ?? ?? Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individual­s Retreats
Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individual­s Retreats

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