Hozpitality Interview:- Atul Upadhyay, Sr. VP Pride Hotels explains the concept of Drive-cation in India
When everyone else is still talking about Staycations, Pride hotels have recently launched Drive-cations, guests can book a stay in any of their properties in various parts of India, with pick up and drop off facilities included in the package
At present, the hospitality industry in India is considered a 'Sunrise Industry' which means it has a huge scope in the near future. It is considered one of the most profitable industries which also accounts for over 8.78 percent of the total workforce, creating almost 15 million jobs in the past five years. In India, the tourism industry plays a significant role in generating employment and earning revenue from foreign exchange. The hospitality industry has been amongst the worst hit by the outbreak of ... The food services business in India is estimated at $61 billion. Indian hotel industry dips 18.5% in RevPAR in Q1 2020.
In this article, Hozpitality Group discussed the news normal of 2020 in the hospitality industry with Atul Upadhyay, Senior Vice President of Pride Hotels and Resorts in India. Pride Group of Hotels resonates with true Indian Hospitality. Pride Group of Hotels Incorporates the Five sense of traditional Indian welcome namely, fragrance, music, ambiance, regional Indian paintings and frescoes, and mouth-watering Indian Cuisines. "Pride Group has always kept an employee-first attitude. With the COVID-19 pandemic situation today, it has become more crucial to stay close to our team who has ensured never letting us down. Our team has proudly showcased care and enthusiasm daily: checking guest requirements, personal and social circles each in their way. We've designed this fundraiser for them", says, Atul. Where everyone else is still talking about Staycations, Pride hotels have recently launched Drive-cations, guests can book a stay in any of their properties in various parts of India, with pick up and drop off facilities included in the package.
Hozpitality:- Hospitality Industry was among the 1st ones to experience the extreme effects of Covid-19, what are your thoughts in the current Pandemic situation and a way ahead?
Atul:- In the past, the hospitality industry has bounced-back from the crisis created by an epidemic or even from the financial crisis of 2008 but the effect of COVID-19 has been heavier than any of them. Now, globally carrying the status of a pandemic, Coronavirus has put the entire industry in a tight spot. Many hotels that have never experienced a deserted lobby had been left with minimum or no occupancy in some of their properties.
As the industry has slowly started operation the recovery will be gradual because of the travel restrictions around the world. People will be cautious about the destinations they will be traveling to. Hence, it's safe to say that we might see some revenge tourism happening in India but not immediately. Destinations, which were once the crowd-puller, may not get too many leisure tourists. However, we do expect to see a demand in the market for staycations at places which are a short drive away. The domestic market will pick up faster than the international market as the local travelers will be looking for a safe weekend getaway. To help the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry to bounce back the Pride Hotels have launched a new campaign called 'India Dekho With Pride'. This campaign is our attempt, as a responsible industry partner- to assemble exhibit attention for domestic tourism and also cater to a wide range of travelers with their travel needs post lockdown.
Hozpitality:- In your opinion what will be the long-term effect of Covid-19 on the Hospitality Industry? And how long will it take to bounce back to Normal?
Atul:- Looking at the present scenario we believe that the impact of the pandemic can be seen for a few more months. And, we are expecting to see very low occupancies for the time being. However, in case of the COVID 19 cases are controlled and lockdown is lifted completely then the industry is expected to revive itself by 50 %. ARR could be marginally lower due to the slowness of demand. Also, MICE will take a little time to recover but once it does the industry will see higher demand as some of the international events will get shifted to India.
Hozpitality:- The World is coming to terms with the Covid-19 outbreak, how do you suggest leading a team during the period of crisis and uncertainty?
Atul:- Presently, we are conducting training sessions for our employees so that they can adapt to the changing trends in work practices. The employee wellbeing has been put even higher in the priority list. These training sessions are also focused on awareness and understanding of the emerging world post-Covid. It will not only help our employees to take care of the guests, but they also will be able to help each other.
We are ensuring that our teams are up to date with the new cleaning practices and hygiene standards as advised by the government. So, it becomes a way of life for them when we start our operations in the new normal.
Hozpitality:- Considering the Unlock India Phase, how are you taking care of Hygiene levels at your hotels?
Atul:- We have launched the Pride safety assurance initiative to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) across all our hotels. The initiative is curated for creating a safe and hygienic environment for our guests. All the necessary equipment like alcohol-based sanitizer, temperature check via a thermal gun thermometer, hand gloves, and face masks will be used by the Pride Hotels. Apart from that, all essential cleaning supplies such as a disposable duster and cloth, sprays, and phenyl disinfectants will be utilized.
We are ensuring that our teams are up to date with the new cleaning practices and hygiene standards as advised by the government. And we are also following it so that it becomes a way of life for them as we are starting our operations in the new normal.
Hozpitality:- What is your expectation from the Government? To what extend Government intervention are needed in the hospitality industry to recover?
Atul:- The hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit industries as compared to the other industry in the segment. We welcome the government's move to offer a moratorium for three months loan. No doubt it will help us but the problem is the period is too short.
The measures, that we want the government to take include conserving cash flow, GST withholding, and compulsory directive to be given to the banks to extend principal interest payment for 2 quarters. Also, some tax credits for payments and other measures to uplift the industry.
Hozpitality:- What are the factors that may impact customer needs and hotel industry response to it?
Atul:- This new normal era is one of its kinds and hasn't been witnessed before. It's quite transformative for our industry as well as for our guests. However, in the post-COVID era, the guests will give priority to contactless services and a safe hygienic environment. And there is no other way to move forward rather than adapting to it and re-skill ourselves.
Hozpitality:- Given the current pace of change, what are you doing to make your brands future-ready?
Atul:- Due to the current scenario of social distancing and for the safety of our staff and guests, the hospitality industry needs new solutions to meet the requirements and yet stay competitive. At the Pride Hotels we have rolled out enhanced technological measures like contactless check-in check-out facility through apps to avoid unnecessary contact; contactless billing facility, and mobile-friendly dining menu. Other measures that have been taken are marking the floors in the lobby area for people so they maintain social distancing at all times and all the key touch-points area in the hotel are sanitized every half an hour.
To provide our guests with an enhanced safe and hygienic environment we have deployed technology at every aspect of our services. New energy-efficient equipment like ATCS, VFD chillier, HPN, Lighting control, auto dosing system cooling tower, STP water utilization, etc. has been installed to elevate customers' experiences.
Hozpitality:- Every breakdown brings new learnings, what can we learn from Covid-19 crisis?
Atul:- Life doesn't come with a guidebook and there are no certainties in life, neither as a person nor as an entrepreneur. And building reserve in good time always pays off, especially in uncertain situations like now.
Hozpitality:- Any news, information, announcement, or anything else you would like to add?
Atul:- We have launched a few initiatives to keep our operation engaged and relevant. These initiatives are created for supporting the government. With the post lockdown phase like Co-Working Corporate Spaces desks, the alternate office space for working professionals. 'India Dekho With Pride', to boost domestic travel, tourism and hospitality industry which has been overall deeply impacted by COVID-19. Moreover, we have launched our first-ever 'Holiday Bond' for future travel to welcome our patrons in the new normal.
The future of the hospitality industry is threatened by the pandemic, Hozpitality Group hopes the recovery will be faster than expected.
Non Promotional interview by Vandana Raj Bhatt