Unlock 1.0, hoteliers heave a sigh of relief
As we sailed into 2020, the hospitality industry was a joyous face, hoteliers shared their delight discussing the profitable numbers, talking about the growth of the industry and how the year ahead looked promising; little did we know two months into the New Year and we will come face-to-face with a never seen before crisis. The humanity was brought to a standstill, the colossal hotel buildings which once wore a face of luxury and delight looked deserted, the industry which worked round the clock was languishing in the heat of COVID-19. But the enthusiasm and the industry fervour to survive and thrive was impeccable, and not only did the hotels stood strong supporting government’s Vande Bharat Mission, their undying spirit to serve the best was exemplary in every way. Glued to their computer screens the hotel industry worked tirelessly to lay down new SOP’s and strategies’ which ensured the utmost safety of their employees and guests.
As we prepare ourselves to again delve in the luxury and magnificence of hotels, we spoke with few industry leaders on their enthusiasm and zeal to welcome back their guests into this new world of new normal…
Nakul Anand, Executive Director- ITC and Chairman-FAITH
FAITH and it’s 10 founder member associations would like to thank Government of India for reallowing commencement of business operations of hotels, restaurants & other hospitality services during Unlock 1. We are thankful to Ministry of Tourism, Niti Ayog & EG – 6 for flagging our concerns and we look forward to closely working with Ministry of Tourism and with State governments for harmonizing opening guidelines and for generating domestic tourism demand during Unlock 1 and Unlock 2.
Dr Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director- Roseate Hotels & Resorts
The government’s move to open up the sector makes eminent sense. It makes sense to start hotel operations close on the heels of allowing airlines to fly. However, the state government must also act in consonance with Centre in opening up of sectors including hospitality.
It would pertinent for hoteliers to follow government – approved SOPs in letter and spirit to ensure utmost safety for our customers. As a proactive step, properties under Roseate brand have launched ‘Care By Roseate Initiative’ for customer safety and health.
Regular temperature checks of hotel staff, use of Araogya Setu App, contactless services for customers in hotels be it dining or stay will become a new normal till we get vaccinated. We are already pushed to the wall. A little more extension of lockdown would have done irreversible economic damage. We welcome the government’s move to allow us to operate.
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO- OYO Hotels & Homes
We welcome the government’s decision to reopen hotels. We are excited and prepared to host guests with the new sanitised stay experience. At OYO, our topmost priorities are maintaining health, hygiene & well-being of our guests and staff. Right from our app to hotel teams, we are working to ensure proper sanitisation of hotels as well as maintaining social distancing with the guests. We are displaying a ‘Sanitised Stays’ tag for properties that clear background audit checks for sanitisation, hygiene, and protective equipment. We along with our asset partners, look forward to delivering a safe, secure and comfortable experience for our guests.
Chander Baljee, CMD- Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels
We are thrilled to know that hotels will be opening soon. We applaud this initiative of the government as hospitality contributes heavily to our economy and provides major employment opportunities. This decision also comes at a good time as things may take two to three months to normalise. By this time, economic activity will pick up and demand will return. We’ll also be in the festive season by then, which is a great opportunity. We look forward to a good Q3 and Q4.
Harpreet Vohra, Cluster GM-Delhi NCR, Radisson Hotel Group
The recent announcement of the opening up of hotels and restaurants is a euphoric relief for the industry. The hotel industry, which was hoping for a reprieve, is still awaiting clarity from the State Government. According to the order issued by the centre the hotels and restaurants may start operations in non-containment zones with effect from June 8. The State government is yet to issue its restrictions and relaxations. We hope the government comes to the rescue of the hotel industry that has been hit to the pits by the lockdown. As we enter this era of new normal, hotels have reinvented ways of greeting and welcoming their guests with new hygiene and safety measures. Radisson Hotel Group recently announced its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with SGS.
Saharsh Vadhera, DOSM- Shangri-La Group/Sales Team
We welcome government’s decision of reopening hotels. Hospitality is embracing the change and adapting to the new normal. We are on the brink of witnessing new innovations in lines of new safety and hygiene for hospitality sector. It will be interesting to see new travel patterns and stay arrangements that will work hand in hand with government policies for pandemic control measures. Life has to get back to normal and this is the first step towards it. Human history has recorded many pandemics over the centuries but never before were we so prepared to handle it effectively due to technical advancements. Business travellers will require not only safe accommodation but also far lesser human interactions in the form of touch points. Various SOP’s have been formulated and will be put to test in coming times and will set a new benchmark for hospitality which will be part of history and may even be taught under various college syllabuses in the future. Stakes of operations are higher now where guest comfort along with colleague safety will be taken care of.
I am confident that guests will keep safety and hygiene as their top priority in hotel selection and hotel companies will be able to deliver as per the expectations.
Vinesh Gupta, General Manager- The Den Bengaluru
MHA has issued Guidelines for phased Re-opening (Unlock 1) and we are glad to see that hotels and restaurants figure unambiguously in this list.
The industry which has not seen any direct stimulus from the governments is on the brink of collapse with many workers being laid off or with reduced salaries. Opening up of hospitality should bring us some respite and much needed revenues to help support the overstretched finances.
We at The Den have been ready with our Restaurants reopening plan from May 18, 2020 with all processes and systems in place. Most important is to walk the talk – especially when it comes to Food Safety, Hygiene and Sanitation. The past two months went by reorienting ourselves and training the teams to be super conscious of health and germfree environment so that we are ready to showcase our ability of ‘Safety and Security are in our DNA’.
It takes time for people to regain confidence and start to come over again, but we strongly believe that in the coming weeks, we will see slow and a gradual build-up of demand, and the industry will be fully geared up to meet the increased business in this New Normal as soon as the curve starts flattening.
Davinder Juj, General Manager- Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place
The decision of re-opening the hotels was well awaited. The industry is now well prepared with the best of the procedures, protocols, and safety equipment to provide the guests with a safe and hygienic environment.
At Eros Hotel, we are working hard on training our team members on safety precautions and are following government instructions to manage the business in the best manner. We are also reviewing each process in-depth to ensure minimum touch points and continuous safe sanitization of all areas.
The industry has suffered a huge setback due to the pandemic including the loss of revenues, a load of fixed costs and manpower costs, expenses to keep the essential services operational in the building, completion of statutory compliances and loss due to the expiry of unutilized items. With such a huge burden, relief support along with opening the hotels was more than expected. We are all looking forward to the government to bailout the industry from the current crisis.
Hospitality Industry works on the basic philosophy of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and in the midst of all these protocols and precautions, Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place shall ensure to deliver the warmth of hospitality to all our guests with a sense of safety and security.
Pushpendra Bansal, COO- Lords Hotels and Resorts
Welcome move to oil the Hospitality Industry Machinery and it was with pleasure we received the news that hotels would now gradually start opening up. As a part of a fraternity, we are happy to see positive initiatives being done past approx. 70-75 days of hotels being closed. There is still a lot of uncertainty which I think should get cleared in the next few days over the norms and process that DOT would want us to follow as every Hotel Chain is following their own norms and no uniform guideline has been sent out.
We as both owners and operators of Lords Hotels still remain hopeful of Finance Ministry sending out some relief to the Industry to give us a much-needed booster dose as currently the industry is battered and reeling under various pressures as post-launch also we do not see a BOOM in travel in initial stages.
Satyen Jain, CEO- Pride Group of Hotels
We welcome the government’s decision and are looking forward to resuming operations within government guidelines. We are ready with our further enhanced and new safety and hygiene initiative – ‘Pride Safety Assurance’, and are glad to welcome our guests and employees back with a stronger commitment to their safety and health. Right from contactless payments and mandatory mobile check-in and check-out, we are working to ensure proper social distancing with guests. We look forward to delivering a safe, secure, and comfortable experience for our guests.
Anand Chatterjee, General Manager- Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa
I am happy how the Honorable Prime Minister of India and Honorable Chief Minister of Goa have taken a balanced, graded and scientific approach to opening the economic activities including Tourism in the last weeks.
They have alleviated the fears of state citizens by robust testing mechanism, checks on entry points and being hospitable and practicing Atithi Devo Bhavo as taught by the forefathers of all humanity in Vedantic scriptures at the same time.