RETAINING THE HUMAN ASPECT OF HOSPITALITY
Hotelier India|December 2020
With technology replacing face-to-face interactions, Ginger Hotels revised its SOPs to keep the human element of the business intact, albeit safely
VINITA BHATIA

When The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) announced results for its second-quarter ending September 30, 2020, the performance of Ginger Hotels stood out. The midscale-economy hotel chain from Roots Corporation, a subsidiary of IHCL, recorded improved occupancy in September 2021 reaching 51%, up from an average of 31% in Q1.

This moderate upswing is reason enough to celebrate at a time when the hospitality industry was badly battered by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown for several months. With the unlocking of the economy, business is gradually picking with green shoots of revival being witnessed in the domestic travel and accommodation segment.

Deepika Rao, MD, and CEO of Ginger Hotels tells Vinita Bhatia how taking the pandemic in its stride, the hotel chain used the time to carry out various cost optimization initiatives. Just before the lockdown, it had signed a new hotel in Amritsar, its first in Punjab.

It followed this up by signing two new properties in Chennai, one each in Patna, Odisha's Kalinganagar, Chandigarh, and Guwahati. While keeping customers at the front and center of all business plans, Rao added that Ginger Hotels will continue expanding its footprint in high-demand markets, where there is ample scope for growth.

Is there a sweet spot for hoteliers to focus on currently in their bid to increase room occupancy?

While the industry grapples to find an answer to increase footfalls and occupancies to the pre-COVID levels, there are some interventions that brands at large have looked at. These include all-inclusive pricing, staycations, hourly rates, workation, and work-out of-hotels packages.

During the lockdown, segments like self-isolation and healthcare became a major part of the hospitality business. Traditional sections like corporate travelers and leisure vacationers, which had stayed away, are now showing early signs of revival, post-lockdown relaxations in different markets. Moreover, food delivery saw a spike in the second quarter, when the lockdown was less severe.

As it opened for business, how did Ginger Hotels assure guests that their safety is the company’s focal theme?

We have launched the ‘Ginger 5G Safety Assurance programme’ to help our patrons regain their confidence in staying with us without any worries. The programme encompasses various aspects. This includes guaranteed safety and sanitization from check-in to check-out as mandated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Moreover, we have adopted a contactless environment via enhanced technology. So, guests can enjoy a non-contact experience, right from managing their check-in formalities, ordering food to their room up to check-out procedures, which includes invoicing and payment.

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