Think Indian weddings and vivid images of lavish celebrations spring to mind. From larger-than-life celebrations to hundreds of people gathering to celebrate together, Indian weddings seem set for an unprecedented change due to the pandemic. With the Coronavirus pandemic looming large, safety concerns rank high for all families. Keeping wedding celebrations close knitted is now a social necessity as large gatherings can be risky. For hotels, however, this presents opportunities to customize and provide customer-centric services for a close-knit celebration.
Speaking with The Financial Express Online’s Swapna Raghu Sanand, Sylvain Laroche, Director of Operations, ibis & ibis Styles India shares insights based on current trends. In his view, there is a significant uptick in wedding queries which have mostly been grand but now requires a rethink in terms of keeping it a more close knit ceremony than a lavish one.
According to Laroche, “Indian weddings have always been considered as a lavish affair and the pandemic has resulted in them becoming more intimate and close knitted. Few of our hotels like ibis Jaipur Civil Lines and ibis Delhi Aerocity offer exquisite poolside venues, ideal for intimate weddings.”
From check in till check out, what changes are you rolling out for the safety of your guests?
ibis is a smart economy brand from the Accor stable, and has always prioritized the safety of its guests and employees and have always had high standards of hygiene and cleanliness all over the world. In addition, all 19 ibis hotels across 13 cities have received the ALLSAFE label which ensures the highest standard of safety protocols to assure our guests and reinstate their trust in travel.
At all ibis hotels we have undertaken a plethora of innovations, including contactless menu and ordering software at our hotels from booking the room, to check-in, check-outs and payment procedures, everything has been made contactless. Guests receive an email communication prior to their arrival to complete check-in formalities online so that on the day of arrival, the guest collects the keys and at checkout, they can just leave the keys in a drop-box provided and depart.
However, it is important to remember that the hospitality industry is about making people feel warm and welcome.
Despite the current situation, we urge our staff that they mustn’t forget to greet our guests with a smile, even if it is from behind a mask.
What do you see as the top trends for 2021 and do you expect wedding bookings or event bookings to witness an uptick next year?
There is pent up demand due to all the weddings and events that were put on hold during the lockdown period. This pandemic has led to the emergence of small and intimate weddings over the last few months stemming from government regulations and many hotels are now offering one stop solution to guests.
Hotels that offer outdoor venues are also noticing a significant increase in queries and bookings. With restricted international travel, I believe wedding and social events will continue to lead the way for hotels.
When do you expect hotel occupancy rates to become normal?
As per studies and many industry experts, due to pent up demand, leisure destinations like Goa, Jaipur, Kochi and Kolkata are expected to return to normal occupancy rates next year. However, hotels that are driven by Corporate travel and MICE are likely to get there by mid-2022.
What are the areas of transformation you foresee for ibis in 2021?
The downtime has given us time to revisit every process through integration and the enhanced use of technology. Besides, it has also given us the time to up skill our
teams through training to ensure efficiency.
It has been our endeavour to balance the ability to demonstrate heartening levels of warmth and personalized care, the very core of what hospitality is about.