Family travel leads pent up travel demand; surge in bookings for curated weddings, workations: Kerrie Hannaford, Accor India & South Asia

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December 9, 2020 4:00 PM

Kerrie Hannaford, Vice President Commercial - Accor India & South Asia, talked to The Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, in a candid interaction.

She further added that technology is being embraced by Indian hotels and guests are also preferring contactless services.

With more Indians keen to explore the tantalizing prospect of traveling and enjoying a leisurely stay, the green shoots of travel and hospitality seem to be an emerging trend. “The pandemic has severely impacted the hospitality sector across the world but Indian hospitality segment is robust with the domestic marketing being a key sauce with many innovative implementations and will recover gradually,” Kerrie Hannaford, Vice President Commercial – Accor India & South Asia, told The Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, in this candid interaction. She further added that technology is being embraced by Indian hotels and guests are also preferring contactless services.

The second half of the year, in particular, has witnessed the triumph of pending family vacations, travel with friends and workcations once the lockdown restrictions were eased across the country. Highlighting the importance of strict safety and hygiene protocols, Kerrie Hannaford said, “In India, we have also been working closely with our sanitation partners ‘Diversey’ along with local medical and government authorities to ensure even more regular cleaning protocols to protect the safety and well-being of our guests and staff. We have implemented stringent and comprehensive outlines of measures that all hotels must follow including frequent cleaning of public spaces, regular sanitation of high-touch points such as elevator buttons and public sitting areas and enhanced cleaning processes for rooms.”

What is your outlook for India’s hospitality segment for 2021 as compared to the rest of Asia?

The ongoing trend of leisure travel will keep prospering in India especially for weekend getaways, staycations, drivecations and celebrating special occasions. People want to step out of their house to simply relive the joys of travelling and relax. The overdue pent-up demand to travel has further resulted in a rise in the number of bookings from the leisure segment especially the family travellers.

What are some green shoots of recovery in terms of bookings and increased demand?

On the MICE travel front, 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 properties, we have witnessed a rise in demand for curated weddings and keeping this trend in mind, we have recently launched ‘Vivaah by Novotel’. This aims at enhancing the contemporary virtual wedding experience in the new now.

Moreover, organisations prefer venues that can provide good food and beverage services, and are technologically well-equipped, so that the meeting can be streamed live to all their team members or customers across the globe.

Long pending family vacations, travel with friends, workcations have been a major source for the revenues. There have been many sold out dates especially for the leisure locations and with the upcoming holiday season, bookings and enquiries are looking encouraging.

What specific strategies are you using for ensuring implementation of sanitation and hygiene using the ALLSAFE initiative that you have rolled out? Are there specific safety compartments you can elaborate on?

At Accor, we have always had stringent measures of hygiene and cleanliness, and now, in this new normal, we are taking additional precautions to provide a safe environment to our guests. During pandemic, considering safety and hygiene of our guests and employees a top priority, we have launched ALLSAFE, our new cleanliness and prevention label, in association with Bureau Veritas.

We have developed the ALLSAFE label certification, our 16 guiding principles and commitments, keeping cleanliness and safety at the helm of our policies. The ALLSAFE label consists of over 35 actionable guidelines and 200 SOP’s – the safety, security and comfort of our guests and employees is at the very heart of who we are. The ALLSAFE label provided assurance that these standards are met by our hotels in anticipation of the reopening of our hotels across regions. Every hotel has an ALLSAFE Officer to ensure all protocols are followed.

Let’s talk about the latest campaign ‘For the love of travel, for the Love of now’ and what is the driving passion that guides this campaign?

Our recent campaign ‘For the Love of Travel, For the Love of Now’ aims to rediscover our guests’ love for travel. Towards the beginning of September we thought that the last quarter would be the perfect time to reignite love for travel and this is the strategy we followed while curating our campaigns and offers with safety and hygiene as prerequisites. This three-month campaign from October to December consists of several exciting offers for guests to enjoy world-class experiential hospitality across Accor’s 52 properties in 23 cities in India and South Asia.

Can you elaborate on the ‘Missed Celebrations’ offer and what it entails for travellers?

In the last few months, we have initiated several campaigns to bring back guests to our hotels and ‘Missed Celebrations’ offer is one of them. This offer is a part of our umbrella campaign ‘For the Love of Travel, For the Love of Now’. It encourages guests to celebrate all missed occasions and milestones during the lockdown such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc. Through this offer we encourage our guests to celebrate life and all its achievements to the fullest. We want our guests to enjoy, savour and relish an array of cuisines and celebrate the special occasions with their loved ones and friends.

Through this offer, guests can earn vouchers equal to 30% of their spend while celebrating any occasion at restaurants and bars at any Accor property in India and Sri Lanka. Accor Plus members enjoy an additional 10% discount. The offer is valid from 1st October to 31st December 2020 and vouchers can be redeemed till 31 March 2021.

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