India's hospitality sector is facing its biggest crisis ever.
Coronavirus pandemic has caused an unpredictable market crisis that any of the sectors has ever witnessed. With leisure and business tourism coming to a standstill due to this pandemic, India's hospitality sector is facing its biggest crisis ever.
In conversation with Entrepreneur India, Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OYO Hotels and Homes, highlights the kind of changes that will happen in the business model for the hospitality industry across the world.
New hotel experiences to be observed
Going forward, the hotel experiences are going to look completely different from how they were earlier. We are going to see circles and markings while entering the hotel. We will see that hotel staff will be welcoming us with safe warmth but their smiles will be hidden behind a mask; they will try to keep minimum touch from everything as a part of our experience.
Also, when we will be entering the hotel room, we will see a sanitisation bottle kept in place, whereas when we enter washrooms, there will be stickers re-enforcing that there was sanitisation there.
Automated hotel experience
In the hospitality industry, the hotel partners are of the view that personalised experience is more important than anything else. It is believed that more and more parts of the hotel experience will get automated. For eg: The kiosk hotel check-in has been a discussion for a long time but it has not just come because people have taken longer for the transition.
Ritesh Agarwal said, “I believe that this world will accelerate it due to two reasons. One is because revenues are going to be smaller than pre-COVID, so you have to learn operating hotels at a lower cost. While the second one is that increasingly consumers will also want lesser touching or sharing products by themselves. I believe that given the combination of both of these things, we will increasingly see technology becoming the whole part of the experience.”
Consumers to travel for work or leisure
In countries like Europe, business travel is lesser and leisure travel is higher partly because it is summer season now. In the US and China, there is a lot more demand primarily for business purposes.
In India, large corporates may have zoom calls or video calls to make a lot of discussions, resulting in a reduction of business travel. However, the small business owner is not stopping his travel.
Guiding hotel partners
Today, it is a very anxious time for any business owner across the industry because they are sitting at home and don’t know when the world is going to reopen.
“In India, we have over 19K business partners so we started with massive engagement programmes. As part of this, every week we are touching base with all of our partners and we are running a ‘Sambandh’ program which is fully digital in nature. We’re also using the last three months as a bridge to be able to work with our partners and build deeper relationships with them by simplifying our contracts, our reconciliation statements, and so on. By doing this, I hope when we come out of the COVID, we can together work towards ensuring that first, we survive this crisis and then thrive and come out stronger when the world starts travelling all over again,” Agarwal further added.
Changes to see in future hotels
As the new generation of the hotel business for a business owner, it’s going to be fundamentally different from where it is today. Because, on one side, they have to spend more expenses on running their hotels and serving their customers to make them feel safe while on the other hand, they have to ensure that in some form or the other they can create disproportionate value when the world comes back.