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How the Indian Hospitality Industry Is Transforming Through Innovation With realigned strategies, innovative tactics, and a tech-first approach, the hospitality space is already making a comeback

By Pranav Dangi

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The pandemic's onset and subsequent series of lockdowns adversely impacted the entire world, and the hospitality industry was at the forefront. However, the sector has also been quick to bounce back from the initial disruptions and dip in business. With realigned strategies, innovative tactics, and a tech-first approach, the hospitality space is already making a comeback as people once again begin to travel, albeit somewhat differently compared to the pre-pandemic time.

It is said that "necessity is the mother of invention,' and the hospitality industry has proved it right. To ensure a safe, hassle-free experience, the industry is putting a strong emphasis on hygiene, safety and providing efficient customer service on all aspects: reservations, payments, lodging, and food and beverage (F&B) services. But to understand how innovation has truly transformed the industry, let's delve deeper.

The rise of backpacker hostels in India

Apart from images of picturesque locations, travel often generates images of quaint/luxurious accommodations and a relaxed, leisurely time to break free from our daily routine. However, not every traveler can afford luxury accommodations that will require them to shell out thousands of rupees each day. As the dynamics of travel evolve, travelers' preferences are also changing, with people now seeking our budget-friendly yet comfortable and safe, experience-driven accommodations. And the answer to their search has ended with backpacker hostels.

In the last three-four years, backpacker hostels have popped up in numerous locations; they are now present in tourist hotspots as well as remote destinations as people look to escape the bustling city life and avoid the tourist crowds. There are 40-50 hostels in cities such as Goa, Jaipur, Delhi, etc., summing up to 2,500 hostels in the Indian market. Offering safe, affordable, comfortable stays that cater to today's travelers, i.e., GenZ and Millennials' expectations, backpacker hostels are undeniably becoming sought-after options.

Community styled living is gaining traction

With the ever-increasing need to be more eco-friendly, preserve natural resources, and reduce carbon emissions, adopting eco-friendly practices and sustainable trends, such as community-style living, is rapidly gaining traction. People are now becoming more attuned to environmental challenges. As a result, they are seeking various alternative accommodation options such as eco-friendly villas, backpacker hostels, BnBs, zero-waste farmhouses, etc. To cater to this, the hospitality sector, particularly backpacker hostels brands, are coming up with experience-driven stays that foster a community-styled living experience for travelers.

Technology bringing the element of personalization

Although it has accelerated since the pandemic's onset, technology integration has been relatively slow in the travel and hospitality industries compared to other sectors. However, this is no longer the case. Previously, just a handful of properties had innovative technology in their rooms, but today, Indian hoteliers have begun revamping their current hotel infrastructure to accommodate COVID-related social distancing and hygiene requirements to ensure the safety of both guests and employees.

The hospitality sector is becoming smarter with the introduction of contact-less check-in, QR-based menus, multi-channel communication, which were once considered novelties. And speaking of technology, the AR/VR tour of the accommodations is one of the game-changers in hospitality as it provides a digital environment for customers to visualize themselves before booking their holiday, resulting in a flawless experience for the guests. In the coming months/years, we are sure to witness a surge in tech-enabled features to facilitate a frictionless travel experience.

The shifting focus to optimizing utility expenses

Utilities are indisputably an expensive endeavor in the hospitality space. Higher spending and unsustainable practices deplete the profit margins and jeopardize the property's financial health and long-term viability. With technological implementation such as smart equipment and smart sensors, the hospitality industry is quickly streamlining operations, optimizing costs through real-time tracking, and timely interventions in case of any challenges. From machines to food trays, the use of innovative technology can assist in managing assets and inventories in real-time, notifying personnel to service needs while also enabling long-term planning, all of which ultimately improves the visitor experience.

Bottom line

Consumers today expect a hassle-free, efficient, and convenient experience, and with their ever-changing expectations, creating exceptional customer service is an area where all brands can innovate. So, jumping on the bandwagon, the hospitality industry is well on its way to revolutionizing the way it operates and caters to customers with its innovative approach.

Pranav Dangi

Founder, Hosteller

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