Hospitality Sector Back In Action? A Reality Check
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The gradual ‘unlock’ process of the economy has made hotels and other hospitality properties accessible. This definitely is a breather for the industry which was probably hit the hardest. So, is the pain over? To understand the situation and what the future looks like, Entrepreneur India interacted with Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, co-founder and CEO, Zostel, and Pranav Maheshwari, co-founder and head of technology and finance, Vista Rooms.
Resumption of services
From days of zero revenue to 60 per cent occupancy, this is the change witnessed by Zostel properties. Addressing consumer needs while curbing their fear to switch back to normalcy after the lockdown is the goal for Chouhan.
At the same time, restructuring the team, aligning new norms and training the staff virtually have proved to be resourceful for Maheshwari. Many green shoots are being witnessed and this phase is probably the best one for alternative accommodation space. The remote working culture provides a massive opportunity for the hospitality sector.
Trends and business opportunities
Vista Rooms has regained momentum in its business by almost 60 per cent and Maharashtra is performing the best. Other states are doing relatively better.
For Chouhan, business has bounced back up to 45 per cent and over 22 locations are operational. Most of these locations are on the outskirts of the cities which provide travellers smooth connectivity. The demand is largely driven by the remote work culture and extended stay unlike before. In the COVID phase, Zostel is noticing the occupancy up to 55 per cent which used to be over 70-80 per cent earlier. The idea is to adapt according to remote work culture to cater to new lower demand channel.
Occupancy statistics and remote work culture
People are mostly checking in with the purpose to work from Zostel rather than operating from home. The occupancy of such guests lasts up to two months. In order to cope with this need to work flawlessly, amenities such as Wi-Fi, dedicated work stations and social distancing measures are focused on as well.
Maheshwari believes that travel has not been affected due to COVID-19 after the unlock process. He further emphasized that people want to plan vacations according to the options available at present. The span of staying at Vista Rooms has increased to 4-5 nights which was earlier 1-2. A luxury property with swimming pool, spacious garden for walks and beach facing villa contribute to dream-come-true situation for people accommodating and working in the remote culture.
Prospects of hospitality post-COVID
Occupancy rate of the sector is likely to go up and recovery will be gradual. Chouhan said, “We have become considerably sales-driven unlike before wherein we focused on communities directly approaching us.” Revenue will certainly increase as the current quarter of the year is favourable for the hospitality sector. Longer duration of traveling, alternate accommodation and differentiation of customers are some of the factors which will impact the hospitality sector.
Nevertheless, maintaining social distance, sanitization and traveling when required are some of the measures which people have adapted by now. This will hopefully retain safety of customers who accommodate at any property. Maheshwari claimed that the impact of COVID is uncertain, but, imparting education about social distancing and prevention among the consumers can be adopted.