Happy days will be back! Weekend getaway destinations, mid-size venue demand may witness revival post lockdown

The year 2020 is undoubtedly the worst year for the hospitality industry and all of us need to start again from ground zero.

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The biggest challenge will be to regain the trust of the individuals about safety and hygiene.

By Akaal Manchanda

 The year 2020 is undoubtedly the worst year for the hospitality industry and all of us need to start again from ground zero. More than 40% of our colleagues in the industry have lost their livelihood to the pandemic which translates to roughly about 35 million people. These numbers could escalate if the downward spiral of the coronavirus does not begin fast. Many are facing pay cuts up to 40%. Mostly, all sectors in the hospitality industry are still out of business and some might not even make it to the end of the tunnel. The hospitality industry globally has never seen such a downfall before.

While most economists and analysts currently expect the global economy to regrow, by some measure in the latter part of 2020, nobody can still determine the exact timeline until the virus is contained across the globe. This pandemic has hit us very hard.

This time the industry came to a sudden standstill and the losses can’t even be compared to the 2008 financial crisis or the series of terrorist attacks that have happened across the globe in a decade or so. We are looking at a deficit in revenue by INR 1.2 – 1.4 lakh crore compared to last year and a direct impact on 90 million people employed in various sectors of the industry. Average daily rates (ADRs) have and will go for a toss by a minimum of 20% to 30% and to match the ADR’s of Jan, Feb-20 will take nothing short of 2 years from now.

Demand for weekend getaway destinations may rise

As we have entered Unlock 1.0, the pre-opening stage for the whole industry, I would count ourselves lucky if we could achieve the budget for 20-21 in 21-22. Travel is expected to start in a staggered manner where fellow people will hopefully start driving down to destinations close by (200 km from the base ) and then, in a span of 3 to 4 months when the cases subside, hopefully, domestic travel (by air and other means) should start picking up. Business and International leisure travel would take some time to pick up its pace.

The biggest challenge will be to regain the trust of the individuals about safety and hygiene. This is the phase where all hospitality units would take utmost precautions beginning with the staff and for the guests as advised by the WHO and Health & Welfare Ministry. With all guidelines being followed ethically, there is not much to be worried about. Perfect communication will hold the key to winning the trust of our guests.

Psychological wellbeing and safety will be a priority

Most hotels /resorts offer facilities and the space for psychological wellbeing which could be used to our advantage. After being in psychical captivity due to the lockdown people would love to venture out and we need to do everything to make sure they feel good about it and they are as safe as their homes as our moral responsibility.

MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) may take longer to revive

The ratios of the business sources will change drastically as MICE the backbone of the industry will take the maximum time to come back to “normal” till then this is the “new normal”.

Earlier the concept was ‘the bigger the better’ where one could host the grandest of weddings, host the biggest of conferences. However, now there are limitations on everything, the gathering for public events will reduce drastically for the predictable future. The mid-scale hotels (40-80 keys) will see a surge of demand slowly as things start returning to normal as clients would prefer to book out complete venues be it for an event, wedding, or a corporate conference to attain the peace of mind of not having strangers around.

Happy days will be back for our industry and we must do what we love to do soon to ensure our guests feel safe.

The author is Founder, Zuper Hotel Solutions. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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