Hotel Experiences Are Going To Be Completely Different: Ritesh Agarwal

The OYO Rooms founder and CEO is confident that the hospitality industry will bounce back, but pre-COVID practices will undergo paradigm change

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The hospitality industry is one of the most affected sectors in the current crisis led by COVID-19 pandemic. While the economy is slowly opening up and so is the hospitality industry, the pandemic will leave a long trail of disrupted methods, which cannot be reversed.

“Hotel experiences are going to look completely different from how they were earlier,” Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of OYO Rooms, told Entrepreneur India during a webinar 

The existing strategies need to be remodeled to plan for the future. The new fundamentals should not only help the industry adapt to the new normal but also help mitigate the long-term destruction caused by the virus to drive quicker upturn.

Agarwal said patrons of OYO Rooms are going to see circles and markings when they enter any of the properties of OYO, or any other hotel. “You will see that the receptionist and everybody else will have the same warmth, but their smiles will be behind the masks. They will avoid touching almost everything. When you enter your room besides the basket of fruits you will see a sanitizer bottle,” he said.

People keen to travel will do so domestically more and probably restrict to their states or nearby cities, Agarwal said. “Goa will be the next Thailand or Europe because I believe that if people need to really go on a holiday, instead of taking a flight, they will think it better to just take a car drive.”

Agarwal is confident that the hospitality industry will bounce back again just as it did after SARS in 2003 when hotel bookings and international tourism fell by 50 per cent. Here are some of the new trends that he believes will usher in post the pandemic in the hospitality sector.

Embracing Cloud Technology

Shifting towards “touch-less” experiences, investment in hygienic apparatuses, adopting telehealth and continuing physical distancing are the major foreseeable trends. The probable applications and integration of robotic machinery would be required and leaders will have to meticulously think about the balance between the roles of technology and human staff. 

Physical Redesign

Identifying new technical skills, technology and patterns should be integrated in the future layouts of hotels with least human contact. Communal places on hotel property should be heavily screened and guarded with installation of sensor systems for lighting and essential functioning to level up the sanitation levels.

Commitment of Safety

Researches form various geographical regions across the world have found diverse trending behavioral results regarding traveling. While leisure travel may be less, business travel will see enhanced emphasis on safety. Therefore customizing experience for everyone from different parts of the world will be the key.

Precautions and Training

Healthcare workers and other hotel staff should be persistently trained for cleaning protocols and exercising safe physical distance for customers to have a safe, satisfying and care-free experience. Use of anti-viral cleaning means on all demanding surfaces, personal shielding process and instruments for cleansing crews will rise. There would be hand sanitizing stations outside and inside rooms, elevators and wipes in rooms.

Change in Approach

A new world comes with new approaches are the old world outlook is unserviceable now. Restructured business models will be encouraged. Reimagining current scenarios and finding a niche with good intentions to serve the community would go a long way to ensure bankable profits.

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