hospitality industry: hotel chains gearing up for good business in the aftermath of the global pandemic

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Hospitality chains are expecting a bumper quarter this summer after two straight years of washouts in the wake of Covid-19. March, which marks the start of summer in some parts of the country, is already seeing strong bookings, indicating bumper gains in “revenge tourism” in April and May.

The nationwide lockdown in 2020 meant no business while the devastating second wave in April last year swept away all booking prospects.

A note shared by JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group with ET showed that the Omicron wave earlier this year caused a slowdown in demand for overnight stays, also triggering cancellations or postponements of wedding functions and other events planned for the end of winter.

“Many of these events are now scheduled for the upcoming wedding season between late March and early May. Hotels are starting to receive requests and confirmations for large weddings, some of which will host 400 to 500 guests,” said Jaideep Dang, Managing Director, Hotels and Hospitality Group, South Asia, JLL.” Some leading city hotels are even reporting higher demand volumes for the wedding segment in Q22022 compared to Q22019. As the third wave of the pandemic began to subside, hotels began to hold senior management meetings, sales and revenue meetings,” he added.

To be sure, industry occupancy levels across the country hit a 12-month low in May 2021, falling below 20%, JLL’s rating showed.

Puneet Chhatwal, MD and CEO of Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) said last week that bookings for the March-May period this year exceeded pre-pandemic levels of the same period of 2019.

Zubin Saxena, MD and Vice President of Operations for South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, said that with the easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of normal office routine, there is an increase in bookings for in-person conferences, weddings and corporate events in leisure destinations, especially in Tier One and Tier Two cities.

“With the resumption of international flights, we expect strong demand from the wedding and business segments between April and June,” he added.

Nikhil Sharma, regional manager for Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said all hotels in the chain had sustained business demand on the books for April and May.

“All markets saw positive growth in terms of occupancy, with metropolitan cities (such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Udaipur, Goa, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh) seeing increases in ADR (Average Daily Rates) occupancies,” Sharma said. . “We are now seeing a steady return of international travel from markets such as South Korea, with most sectors encouraging hybrid working, which is supporting the return of business travel,” he added.

March occupancy rates are over 90% and above for Mahindra Holidays & Resorts, Managing Director and CEO Kavinder Singh said.

“This despite the fact that we added 465 rooms last year and are closing this year, we will likely end up with 4,500 rooms in our inventory. Looking ahead, April and May are looking very good We have business on the books in the range of around 85-87% occupancy,” he said. In March 2022, at least 15% more nights were booked compared to March 2019 according to RateGain data, but what is more interesting is the impact of the resumption of international travel on room rates Average daily rates in March in India according to RateGain were in the region of Rs 5100-5500.However for April, they increased by almost 50% to reach between Rs 8000-8400.

This contrasts sharply with previous years where the industry would see lower rates between April, May and June compared to March, the company said.

Puneet Dhawan, senior vice president of operations, Accor for India and South Asia, said there has been an impressive recovery and a substantial increase in bookings so far this quarter, particularly in the metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.

“Due to the easing of regional travel restrictions and the resumption of scheduled international operations, we are optimistic for the coming months and expect queries to begin to have relatively longer booking windows,” said Dhawan. “Stay and work inquiries have resumed for April and May to domestic leisure destinations and we are also receiving inquiries for small-scale social events.”

Dhawan said that with the restart of catering services, the food and beverage sector is seeing notable growth.

“With business travel gradually rebounding, we expect the MICE segment to be a contributing factor in driving demand for the second and third quarters of 2022,” he said.

Last week, the Union Home Office decided to end its Covid-19 containment measures from March 31, and said there may no longer be a need for invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

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