With several states easing lockdown restrictions hotel chains are luring guests with a bouquet of offers in a desperate attempt to shore up room occupancy levels that took a hard knock following the second wave of Covid-19.
Hoteliers are hoping to benefit from another round of revenge travel – a phenomenon that represents compulsive travel to beat boredom brought about by the lockdown. The term was coined in China.
Premier groups and chains like Taj Hotels, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Marriott, The Leela, Oberoi Hotels, and The Lalit as well as mid-market chains like Lemon Tree Hotels, Choice Hotels, Golden Tulip, and The Park Hotels have rolled out guest offers across properties at holiday and city destinations.
Tata Group-controlled Taj Hotels and Resorts, for instance, has rolled out ‘Innergise’ which offers a package involving three immunity booster meals every day, spa therapies, and consultation with wellness coaches. All these are included in discounted packages which are priced around 50 percent lower than their usual rates.
Marriott, the world’s biggest hotel chain, is offering buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, early check-in and late checkout, 25 percent discount on food and beverages, free WiFi, and free airport transfers in the discounted package where rooms are sold at half their ideal prices.
The Leela is offering a complimentary fourth night for a three-night stay which includes daily breakfast, all-day dining, free stay for parents aged above 60 or kids up to age 12, private car transfers. Likewise, Oberoi Hotels is selling the second night at its properties Agra, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata at a 50 percent discount.
Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said, “As the situation in India stabilizes, we have seen an improvement in consumer sentiment and a significant rise in enquiries as well as bookings, in the last couple of weeks. With people looking for quick getaways, the demand for weekend staycations is also on the rise again. Our hotels in Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata have seen occupancies increasing consistently, and our hotels in metro cities are seeing an average weekend occupancy of over 50 percent while some of our hotels have even crossed 80 percent occupancy recently.”
Destinations that are closer to home and can be reached within a few hour's drive are preferred by guests, say hoteliers. Such personalised mode of travel, they add, is considered safer by guests than taking flights or train journeys. Guests have started to pre-book their holidays for the July-September period.
Vivek Khanna, Chief Operating Officer, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India said, “With increasing vaccination, and ease of restrictions in some states, people have now started to travel again. Most of our resorts are receiving a favourable response. There has been a steady rise in bookings over the past two weeks for our July to September quarter. While there is a visible demand for our newly launched resort in Netrang – Gujarat and Alibaug – Maharashtra, our resorts in Himachal and Uttarakhand remain popular in the North.”
Though pan-India hotel occupancy levels are around 20-30 percent across segments and brands, Patanjali Keswani chairman and managing director of Lemon Tree Hotels believes that the industry should witness a strong pull back in demand before December by which time a substantial chunk of the population is expected to get inoculated. Guests who had to alter wedding arrangements due to the lockdown are looking at new dates under the relaxed norms.
“With an improving situation and the recent easing of restrictions across markets in India, we are once again receiving enquiries and bookings for weddings and social events. Typically, Indian weddings are organized on a large scale, however, given the current circumstances, we have adapted to create more intimate and safer weddings,” Jain added.