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Last Updated : Feb 01, 2019 04:50 PM IST

Even for CEOs, it’s more about 'a good deal than a preferred hotel chain'

Homestay major, Airbnb, raked in over $296 billion in revenue from corporate travels in the US; this is a testament to the changing landscape in the field of hospitality


Since the advent of BnBs, which offers tailored experiences in a streamlined and standardised fashion, the way people travel has changed significantly.

Homestay major, Airbnb, raked in over $296 billion in revenue from corporate travels in the US; this is a testament to the changing landscape in the field of hospitality. A recent Morgan Stanley research revealed that the primary reason corporate travellers use Airbnb is due to price (53 percent) followed by location (35 percent), authentic experiences (33 percent).

The data also suggests that the cost of lodging is 8-17 percent cheaper in Europe than a regional hotel’s average daily tariff.

The trend is now catching up with India’s corporate professionals as well.

For further insight, we caught up with Ajay Bakaya, the managing director of Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, one of India’s fastest-growing hotel management companies, to not only understand how he prefers to travel but also how his company is dealing with the sudden influx of demand on specific experiences. Under his leadership, Sarovar brand has implemented several initiatives ranging from energy efficiency to reduce-plastic policy in all hotels.

To stand out from its competition, Sarovar strategically plans its yearlong calendar of offers and deals including Advance Purchase Offer, direct booking discounts, up gradation of rooms, flexible check-in and check-out and takeaway breakfasts among many more.

With the responsibility to manage over 80 hotels in 50 destinations across India and Africa, Bakaya certainly has his plate full, but he still manages to seek respite despite the strenous scehdule.

Annual vacation

"For me, one vacation has to be 10-14 days in length, which is generally considered long. Of course, I fit in two-three shorter ones ranging from 3-4 days. The longer vacation that I take is mostly an international trip. The timing of this vacation doesn’t really matter. It can be anytime. In terms of company, it may be either friends or family", said Bakaya.

Preferred international destinations

"Talking about destinations, Sydney is one of my preferences. I have lived in Sydney for quite a few years. Otherwise anywhere in Europe tops the list. It may be Paris or Amsterdam. Again this is because I have stayed at both of these places. Another place I absolutely love is Portugal. It’s a beautiful place and there are plenty of personal experiences to be had in each of these places."

Preferred airline

"For leisure travel, it has to be Emirates. It’s not just because of the good service but also the convenient connectivity they offer."

Activities

"I can’t walk too much on strenuous stretches. It’s nothing health related but walking is out of the question. So it has to be cycling. I would go out meet my friends who stay in those cities. I am not a big shopper so I don’t shop around. But when I need to I do some shopping."

Next travel plan

"My next travel is planned in April this year. I shall be traveling to USA. That’s again a vacation. Basically, it’s a family wedding that I am turning into a vacation."

Traveling solo

"I like solo traveling. But that’s not beyond 2-3 days. My solo trips are purely of spiritual nature. I have my retreat in the Himalayas, where I keep going from time to time. These solo trips are mostly roadtrips. But these also involve a little bit of walking as well."

Personalized ways to experience each new place

"I love cycling but certainly not on the roadtrips to the mountains. I do cycling on the weekends. When I travel around the world, I prefer cycling in most cities."

Balancing work and vacations

"I have always worked in the organization, where getting a leave was difficult because of the responsibilities. There will always be work. But it’s important to switch off your work at some point and travel. If you don’t do that, you are a donkey. And that’s what we encourage at Sarovar as well. We have never said no to anyone taking a leave. You can go away and come back, the world doesn’t change. I think you need a break after working."

Preferred destinations in India

"In India, I would say, anywhere in the mountains would be my number one. But when I say that, I mean anywhere beyond the cities – beyond Shimla, beyond Nainital and beyond Mussoorie. Let’s say anywhere in the height of 7000-10000 feet. And then it has be Rajasthan. There are Jodhpur, Udaipur and so many other places that I love traveling to because of the special experiences I can garner during those trips."

Selecting stays"It completely depends on what’s the best value at that point of time. I am in the business of hotel for a long time. So I would reach out to friends and say, ‘Can you get me a good deal?’ It’s more like a good deal scenario than a preferred hotel chain. Occasionally, I would switch from hotels to Airbnbs, especially when I travel with family of 6-7 people. Airbnb offers much better value compared to hotels."
First Published on Jan 31, 2019 04:22 pm
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