Accor has creatively launched unique concepts such as staycations, movie screenings at their hotels. This has been complemented with enhanced dining experiences like Saturday night live barbeque, traditional thali and drive-ins at some of their hotels. In a conversation with TTJ, Rohit Chopra, Regional Director – Sales & Distribution, India & South Asia, Accor Hotels shares more about the recovery of MICE business in the hospitality and the brands’ lucrative new concepts.
As the lockdown guidelines continue to relax across the country and states, we are witnessing several trends that are driving occupancies. However, hotels that implement the highest health and safety standards and are recognized as trusted brands will enjoy significant traction.
With the increased number of domestic flights, amid continued international travel restrictions, we foresee growth in domestic travel. Additionally, we are already seeing optimism from guests who are seeking staycations and weekend travels. As remote working conditions continue, guests are also willing to work from hotels and therefore workcations are becoming popular. Rohit adds, “While business travel is still impacted, we do expect it to return in the short-medium term as well. Weddings, especially in India, is a resilient segment. Even during the pandemic, with a limited guestlist, weddings is one segment, which has shown a lot of promise. As the restrictions on guestlists have eased, we are hopeful that we will be hosting many more weddings and related events. Across all our hotels, irrespective of the brand, we have hosted weddings and continue to receive more queries as well. Our hotels are extending curated customised wedding packages to match the evolving requirements of the guests.”
Under the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, the government has allowed events (social, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious academic and political). “We expect MICE to gain significant momentum with the easing of restrictions, as events can be hosted with 50% capacity of the event area with a maximum of 200 people. We anticipate that large-scale weddings, small and mid-sized conferences, product launches, training programs and sporting events (domestic leagues) will resume over the next couple of quarters. In fact, at several of Accor’s hotels, we have witnessed a rise in demand for curated weddings and are expecting an increase in bookings of small meeting rooms as various organisations would like to conduct their meetings in premises, which can offer a safe and hygienic environment. Moreover, organisations prefer premises that can provide good food and beverage, and are technologically well-equipped, so that the meeting can be streamed live to all their team members or customers across the globe,” shares Rohit.
The majority of Accor’s properties are well equipped to cater to events across varying budgets, number of guests and services. Their specialised event teams at various properties provide unique ideas and tailor-made services that adapt to the ever-changing and latest trends in the MICE industry. Additionally, the group has trained its hotel staff to understand the guest requirements along with being mindful of all safety and security protocols. To do this effectively, Accor has implemented ALLSAFE, their global cleanliness and prevention standards, developed with and vetted by Bureau Veritas, ensuring a ‘contactless’ experience yet retaining the warmth that is the very essence of the Accor experience.
The pandemic has resulted in businesses thinking out of the box and exploring newer revenue avenues. The team at Accor believes in innovation with hospitality to offer their guests safe and enjoyable experiences. The new normal has a number of opportunities in store and their initiatives are well designed to cater to the demands of our guests. Sharing further about the alternative revenue sources that Accor hotels have dished out to attract their guests, Rohit says, “We have initiated lucrative campaigns and collaborated with like-minded brands to better enhance our offerings. We are currently driving a campaign ‘For the Love of Travel, For The Love of Now’ inviting travellers to live in the moment and rediscover their love for travel. As a part of Accor hotels ‘For the love of Travel, for the love of Now’ campaign, we have launched the ‘Missed Celebrations’ offer encouraging our guests to celebrate every special occasion that was missed during the lockdown. The offer provides guests to dine at any of our F&B outlets across our 51 hotels and earn a 30 per cent discount voucher. This voucher can be later redeemed at rooms, restaurants, spas including all other in-house hotel services.”
With a continued focus on the food and beverage segment, Accor has offers enabling guests to enjoy their favourite foods such as takeaways, deliveries and have even curated DIY food kits for their guests. Rohit adds further, “We have also creatively launched unique concepts like staycations, movie screenings. This has been complemented with enhanced dining experiences like Saturday night live barbeque, traditional thali and drive-ins at some of our hotels. We also have seen a gradual rise in the number of diners and small meeting requirements, which is a positive sign. To ensure we continuously provide experience to our guests, we are collaborating with key brands. We have partnered with IndiGo’s 6E Rewards Program across India as the preferred hospitality brand. This partnership offers Accor and Indigo’s guests the opportunity to earn rewards while enjoying world-class hospitality and impeccable food offerings at Accor’s extensive network of Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Mövenpick, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, ibis and ibis Styles hotels in 23 cities. Additionally, we have associated with Vistara Airlines for our ‘Welcome Back Program’.”
As for the upcoming festive season, most of the brand hotels will be offering a wide selection of curated gift hampers across different price points.