Consumer Discretionary

Tourism And Hospitality Trends In India 

<p style="text-align: justify;">Spread across 32.87 lakh square kilometers, ranging from the snow-clad Himalayas in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South, India is a rich cultural and historical heritage, with ecological variation and several places of natural beauty across the country. It offers a great opportunity and potential in the tourism and hospitality sector for growth and has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth in the services sector in India.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">A lot has already been said about the consequences of the pandemic on societies and economies. The foreign exchange earnings grew at a CAGR of approx 7% up to 2019 and dipped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the two years of the pandemic, the entire world witnessed a sharp decline in all growth and resources. This period of two years has been labeled as appalling, destructive, and unfortunate by most. Some people also saw this as sobering, and an opportunity for nature to sustain itself as most of the humanity stayed locked down.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">As it is said that every cloud has a silver lining, the post covid stage has also witnessed huge growth stories and phenomenal successes.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The initial beginning was slow post covid, but various industry initiatives and government policies and programs urging travelers to get vaccinated, maintain certain precautionary protocols, and stay safe even while travelling have helped increase occupancies, especially in leisure destinations.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">While some modifications, adjustments, few improvements, and tweaks are necessary for a comprehensive overhaul in each business to get it back on track. Post covid has witnessed hospitality organizations and their managements pause, reflect and act upon significant changes.&nbsp;<br />They seek proficiency in operations and, in the process, clearly isolating what is vital for their operations from what serves no purpose. Introspection on every tenet was the need of the hour.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The hospitality industry witnessed a large number of staff reductions and layoffs. But that they chose to stay away despite the industry opening up led to a frightening manpower concern, which seemed to be getting bigger with decreased salaries, and increased workload due to an increased covid protocol, and all this resulted in most of the hospitality colleges seats remaining empty in new batches.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">This called for an immediate restoration of parity and an increase of respect for hospitality, and many hospitality management companies realized this. We witnessed how the hospitality industry was bouncing back in a big way, leading to several chains talking of major expansions, signing big deals, adding inventories, and offering fancy designations to their associates. All this is happening at a galloping pace to win the confidence of Gen-Y.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The top eight hospitality trends that seem to be emerging and are set to control the environment for a considerable time are:</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Emergence of Staycations</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Despite air travel opening up, there seems to be an inclination to choose domestic staycations between the travel restrictions in some countries. Expensive ticketing, strict covid testing requirements, complicated bureaucracies, and various related inconveniences have led to travel lovers choosing local nearby domestic destinations for their family staycations, and that has gone down well with everyone and is likely to continue.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Remote Working and Bleisure Travelling&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Working remotely is more than just a passing trend, with an unprecedented number of high-profile companies preferring to adopt a hybrid or flexible approach to working remotely. This has given rise to various hospitality spaces being used as an alternative to such requirements as hotels and meeting venues trying to capitalize on this trend are accommodating required points in their offerings to address all such needs of this emerging segment.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Technology and Digitalisation</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Various kinds of hospitality-related software and apps are increasingly becoming popular since 2020, controlling many aspects of their interactions with the hotel/facility in the endeavor of providing contactless service and has stayed on. Various tech developments like electrostatic sprayers, sanitizers, digital keys, e-concierge, e-menus, etc have assisted in dealing with the challenges.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Hotel amenities are going digital by streaming content from smartphones on the in-room TV, e-concierge, temperature and light controls on the smartphone; digital keys are now already in play.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Completely voice-activated controls may seem futuristic today but may soon become the norm, and hence hospitality organisations are finding it increasingly necessary to incorporate such technological advancements in their hotels/facilities.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Health and Wellness&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Post-pandemic, medi care, health care, and self-care are the top trending subjects, and the Wellness industry has become the trend to continue.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The wellness industry is spreading, and the hotels and hospitality, with their existing infrastructure and facilities, are catching up to claim their share.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In addition to their usual beauty and relaxation offerings, there are specially created treatment plans, created by expert medical personnel, and also sessions (Personal or In Groups) to pay attention to increase immunity, stress management, weight management, etc, and other related topics.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Talent Management and Workforce&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">With increased technology, there has been a change in the employee's tasks too, and in fact, on the workforce itself with an increased focus on the issues like health, safety, work-life balance, employer&ndash;employee relations, and human resource skills, as many other industries are now looking for employees who are already well trained in such soft skills.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Having undergone specialized trainings and worked in a totally customer focussed industry, hotel employees are a natural fit for many soft skills-oriented jobs in other sectors and industries. They have selected hospitality employees and created a talent crunch for the hospitality who now drastically need to acknowledge this, offer better Compensations, and follow good practices, which has already started in many companies.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Environment-friendly and Sustainable Practices</span>&nbsp;</h2><p style="text-align: justify;">During the recent pandemic, the entire world witnessed the role of the nature and good natural practices coming to the aid of humans more than any other medicines or accessories. Sustainability has become the top-ranked preference of all hotel and hospitality users.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Reduce the use of disposable paper, eliminate the use the plastic, reduce any food wastage, minimize elec consumptions, etc. This has become the top choices, and today's discerning guest want only to be associated with those who adopt environment-friendly practices and invest in green tech like installation of solar panels, LEED certifications, waste management, water conservation.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>F&amp;B</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Use of the E-menus, vegan choices and meat and non-vegetarian options are reduced.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The trends for hotel design indicate that art, local flavors, uniqueness, and sustainability will be the focus, and the travelers will stay in hotels whose design captures the character of the destination, either with the local art and architecture or the community.&nbsp;<br />Adopting sustainable natural practices not only helps the hotels to increase guest's satisfaction and appreciation levels but also keeps their costs down.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Travelers Preferences</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Travelers today look for newer experiences that are unique and tailor-made, which have not been experienced by others or at least not by many, which could be related to sports activities or music or Gastronmique experiences and for such experiences they would be inclined to travel where ever and stay where ever.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Solo traveling is also a mindful option being embraced due to its meditative nature, and travelers prefer to spend time alone and venture out with no regrets. Even the management is lowering the barriers between their employees and the customers to make themselves guest friendly and provide homeliness.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">So the managements need to be super adaptative to curate the unique experiences of the guests are traveling for and be prepared to go to any lengths to accommodate their guests.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Hotel Business v/s Business of Hospitality&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">With the pandemic looming above, the face of hospitality had changed, with the focus shifting from pampering the guests with often meaningless frills (that came at a high cost and added little value) to offering services that today's guest values and appreciates.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Hotels need to adopt leaner cost structures and invest in automation and technology. With increasing wage costs, it is also highly advised to evaluate our own standards to see what's required and what's not. To minimizing Capex and maximizing a flexible Opex should be the way forward.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The past couple of years has taught hospitality leaders to be focused, resilient and adaptative and to make business strategies that will help shape the industry's future, keeping in mind the learnings of the recent past and hoping that the pandemic does not spring any further surprises.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sanjay Kasal</a> </em></span></p><h3 style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</h3><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Sanjay Kasal</span></h3><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. How popular is a staycation?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Staycation is a combination of the English words stay and vacation. It has gained huge momentum in the past two years and is likely to continue in the future, which means staying locally or in nearby places rather than traveling long distances to go on vacation. Hospitality spaces have been quick to understand this and have come up with multi options for creating various promotional offers to this effect.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What are the different effects of digitalization on the industry?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Many traditional customer-facing services have become contactless to reduce the threat of the virus with contactless mobile check-in/check-out and contactless payments.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Implementation of smart technologies like IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) has helped optimize costs, improve productivity, and control maintenance.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />The hospitality industry can capitalize on features such as immersive virtual tours to create a digital environment for consumers to picture themselves before they book their holiday, a trend that is expected to rise.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. How did Covid-19 affect the travel industry?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Covid-19 played havoc with the World and brought the entire World to its knees as everything got locked down, and the Foreign Exchange earnings in India, at a rate of over 7% CAGR, dipped to their lowest ever as all tourism the World over was hit.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The entire World witnessed a sharp decline in all growth and resources. This period of two years has been labeled as appalling destructive, and unfortunate by most.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br />&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Sanjay Kasal

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