Saagar Panchal is the Founder & CEO at Hireavilla Hospitality Pvt ltd. – a foremost uniquely focused luxury villa rental start- up, which was established by him in the year 2016. At the young age of 21, while he was appearing for his board exams he was already ready to kick start his business venture and ended up officially launching his start- up in the month of July.
Coronavirus hit us all hard – but while several sectors took the fall, the hospitality, travel, and tourism sector experienced the worst impact. With restrictions on local, national, and international movements, the various industries under the hospitality sector witnessed downfalls and losses like no other. Several financial reports state that the hospitality industry suffered losses up to 15,00,000 crores and a fiscal setback of almost three economic quarters. Many are still losing their jobs in food and beverage, dining, aviation, cruise, event management, and other sub-industries. Other financial reports predict that the sector will continue to face setbacks despite the somewhat slow resume of domestic and inter-city travel in the country. While the various sub-heads under the hospitality sector have tried their best to adapt to the dynamic trends in traveller behaviour, they need to become even more vigilant and upscale their business models to revive the flow of revenue and contribute to the economy again. What does the future look like for the hospitality sector? Let’s find out.
Health and safety will be the number one priority.
It is no hidden fact COVID-19 has made all of us cautious about maintaining our health and safety. Due to the contactable nature of the disease and a never-seen-before rapid spread in high numbers, it is natural for people to be wary of things that heighten the risk of contraction. Keeping up with this change, hotels, bars, restaurants, and other hospitality spaces have modified their health and safety regulations. They have taken steps to maintain hygiene and minimize contact through various measures. These include regular sanitization, periodic temperature checks of staff and guests, COVID-19 testing, social distancing, contactless check-in/ checkout, changing of sheets, among many other steps. Many hotels have even recruited on-call doctors for related emergencies, cut back on the number of guests that can stay in a room, and made it a point to provide only in-room dining services. This heightened risk will translate to an increase in the number of measures the hospitality sector must take to make incoming guests and travellers feel safe and establish their reliability. Even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, customers will expect hotels to take the necessary safety and hygiene measures before they step into their premises/ rooms.
State and central governmental reforms will help the sector.
During the initial stages of the pandemic, the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector were deemed inessential. As people were grappling with their lives, going out and travelling became less of a priority. The government didn’t pay much attention to the hospitality sector and the tremendous losses in jobs and revenues. However, since the past couple of months, various hospitality authorities and associations have made pleas to the local and national governments to assist the sector in getting back on its feet. The Hotels Association of India has even made a direct appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for financial support to the various sub-sectors under the hospitality industry. The support includes the extension of loan repayment time frames, reduction of commercial tax and GST rates, stimulus packages, and waiver of all statutory liabilities, among other fund requests. The central government, finance ministry, and the reserve bank of India are yet to respond and provide relief to the hospitality sector. However, the Maharashtra state government has provided some relief to the hospitality sector within the state. Up till now, the energy and revenue departments of the state have cut down the electricity duty and non-agricultural tax. They have reduced it to the industrial rates from the current commercial rates. This has provided a lot of relief to the sector and brought down running expenditure. However, for a dramatically better improvement in the sector, the various state governments and the central government will have to acknowledge the pleas and co-operate in funding.
Adaptation to changing consumer trends will be constant.
Consumer and traveller trends have changed and fluctuated quite a lot since 2020. In 2021, things have gotten better in domestic travelling, but for a complete revival, the hospitality sector will have to be flexible in accommodating changes in demands and market trends. Currently, the hospitality sector doesn’t have the upper hand, and much of its revival depends on the potential customer/ traveller. To bring in a steady flow of income, the sector will have to be adaptable and accommodating. We have already mentioned how regular safety and health measures will have to be a core part of the industry. Changes in infrastructure and guest seating will have to be made on a somewhat permanent level, at least until the threat of another epidemic doesn’t loom on the heads of people. Food sourcing will have to become organic as more emphasis will be on consuming organic and healthy food. Online sales and deliveries will only increase to avoid crowding in public spaces, so the sub-heads other than Food & Beverage will have to somehow integrate the contactless delivery practice into their systems. This will include tying up with various food and utility delivering applications and booking websites. Business and leisure travelling, which was already a trend catching on quickly, will only rise in popularity. Hotels will have to ensure they have lag-free internet services, portable connectivity, and prompt services to make biz-cation travellers feel satisfied with their stay. All in all, customer needs will get priority even if it means making uncomfortable changes for the sector.
The bottom line:
The Indian hospitality sector will find its feet again and come back for the better. While international travel and hospitality remain off the charts, the hope is that domestic hospitality will take care of the revenue gap. The COVID-19 crisis has been devastating, but the hospitality sector has held out despite its continuing losses. With more assistance from the government and the gradual return to travel, leisure, and outdoor dining, the sector is bound to bounce back. All it needs is prompt adaptability.