The hotel industry is betting heavily on local stays and weekend getaways with young travellers searching for trips to nearby destinations after being locked down in their houses for over two months.
The sector, which came to a screeching halt amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, has started to open up in a phased manner since June 8 under the government's ‘Unlock 1.0’ plan.
From investing heavily in workstation setups to ensuring zero-contact check-ins, hotels are ticking every box in order to cash in on the early wave of opportunity.
With work from home becoming the new norm, many youngsters are looking at making beaches or hills as their next destination to work from.
"Youngsters are looking to book accommodations for long stays as they want a change from the work from home module. Offices also don't mind if employees are coming online from a beach in Goa or from home. So work and leisure is likely to get mixed here," said Rahul Chauhan, founder of corporate hotel booking portal, RoomsXpert.
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Hostel accommodation service provider Zostel has already started investing in new workstations and robust internet connections across all its properties.
"We are experiencing a surge in the queries for long term staycations. Gen Z is getting increasingly comfortable with working in a gig economy and are likely to opt for staycations more, while remote working has given corporates the flexibility to travel and work on the go with virtual collaboration," said Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, co-founder and chief executive officer of Zostel.
Hotels are planning to offer just 50 percent of the total occupancy in order to adhere to the government’s social distancing norms.
Amsterdam-based travel booking platform Booking.com has been promoting 'close to home' travel. "Start by exploring destinations close to home and enjoy a refreshing weekend in a cosy cottage or a villa surrounded by nature," says one of its recent ad-mailers.
"With countries at different stages of the pandemic, exactly where and when travel will fully return is difficult to predict, but we expect to see people opting to stay closer to home at first, with local travel returning to begin with," Ritu Mehrotra, country manager - India, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Booking.com told Moneycontrol in an email response.
The company had recently launched a wish list travel campaign which reveals that the top domestic destinations for Indians are Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi, Lonavala and Bengaluru, suggesting that people have been looking forward to sunshine and beaches after weeks of confinement in big cities.
While hotels account for 42 percent of all properties wish-listed by Indian in terms of the types of accommodation, resorts account for 18 percent.
Destinations where travellers can reach within three-four hours will be preferred as people would be able to drive to these places easily.
"People won't be comfortable for a while (to use public transport). They would not bother to sit with someone because there social distancing cannot happen. But people will travel and it will start with destinations closer to home where you can drive together as a family," said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice-President of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI).
On hospitality firm Oyo’s platform, a significant demand is driven by young travellers followed by those from corporates and small business owners.
"With most people opting for personal means of transport, bookings trends so far show guests’ preference towards same-city travel," Oyo’s Spokesperson said.
The company is offering sanitised stays with minimal contact-based check-ins.
The Centre had allowed reopening of hotels in non-containment zones from June 8 as the country emerges from the over two-month long nationwide lockdown, meant to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic