Emerging Travel & Hospitality Trends in India Post Covid

Having completed his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, Chander has been associated with Royal Orchid Hotels for over 22 years now and has been at the forefront of the company’s success story so far. Siliconindia recently got the opportunity to interact with Chander, wherein he shared his insights on the current travel & hospitality scenario in India and various aspects pertaining to the industry. Below are excerpts of an exclusive interaction

What are your thoughts on the current hospitality industry in India? Tell us about some of the latest trends such workcations, staycation and few others

Despite the onslaught of the Covid pandemic, the travel & hospitality industry in India is now witnessing steady growth and is on the way back to its former glory. Two trends that are seeing massive traction among the country’s working population are workcation and staycation. As a result, hotels and travel agencies have now started offering stay options on a long-term basis for these young millennials to work and simultaneously enjoy their holiday.

With the rising awareness about sustainability and the environment and the ongoing eco crisis among today’s travellers, there has been a significant increase in the number of people opting for eco-tourism and sustainable travel in India lately. As a result, many properties are forced to adopt sustainable practices such as water conservation, renewable energy and reducing waste.

How are the Indian and foreign consumers’ demands varying post covid?

The pandemic had a significant impact on consumer behaviour not just in India but worldwide – be it travel, shopping or even purchasing patterns and demands. Post the pandemic, Indian consumers are prioritizing health and safety more than ever before. They are now more conscious of their health & well-being and even take proactive measures to maintain good health. Similar is the case with foreign tourists as well. With health and safety as top priorities, there is a growing focus on environmental sustainability and ethical practices. Guests are increasingly seeking products and services that align with their values and beliefs, particularly in relation to climate change and social justice.

Digital entertainment is the next big buzz followed by streaming services as guests spend more time at home. Remote work and virtual interactions have become the new normal, leading to an increased demand for home office equipment, digital communication tools, and other related products.

What are some of the latest technologies disrupting the hospitality industry and enabling a hassle-free customer experience?

Contactless Technology has become a critical component of the hospitality industry, wherein contactless check-in, payments and room service are being introduced by hoteliers to ensure the safety and comfort of guests. Hospitality businesses are also deploying IoT solutions to make guests’ experiences more personalized, and smart devices such as smart thermostats, lighting systems, and voice assistants are being used for automated room setting and ordering room service. Many hotel properties are using VR/AR technologies to provide travellers with a glimpse of their properties prior to booking and even showcase local attractions and activities. Additionally, hotels can use blockchain to improve the security and transparency of transactions, along with securely storing guest data, streamlining payments, and eliminating fraudulent activities.

Technology is playing a vital role in enabling hotel chains to offer a hassle-free customer experience. Customers can now book and pay for their rooms in advance via online booking portals. Hotels are now using apps to provide guests with an easy-to-use interface for booking, check-in, and other hotel services. Also, Chatbots and virtual assistants are enabling guests to get their queries solved and even check for recommendations about local activities, tourist attractions and even restaurants serving the cuisine of their choice. Additionally, technology is also being used to enhance hotel loyalty programs, providing guests with exclusive benefits and rewards based on their preferences and spending patterns.

What are some of the major steps hotel chains are undertaking post covid to maintain the hygiene among their premises?

In a post-pandemic world, hotel chains are adopting a slew of practices to ensure guests’ safety and security. Some major steps being undertaken include increased emphasis on cleaning & sanitation, contactless service, social distancing, and strict maintenance of air quality. Furthermore, hotel staff are also being trained and educated on proper hygiene practices, including correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper hand hygiene, and cleaning & disinfecting protocols. These steps are vital to restoring customer confidence in the hospitality industry in the new normal and ensuring the long-term success of the industry.

What role does technology play in maintaining the security of consumer data while they book hotels and make payments online?

The hospitality industry is one of the biggest sources of critical consumer data that is generated in the hotel booking and payment process. Thus, it is paramount for hotel businesses to have stringent data security measures in place. Some of them include encryption-enabled booking and payment options, two-factor authentication, deploying fraud detection solutions and maintaining 100 per cent compliance with all payment and data-related guidelines and regulations such as PCI DSS. Gaining customers’ confidence and trust in this aspect will assist the business in maintaining a long-lasting relationship with its clients.

In your opinion, how do you expect the hospitality industry to evolve in the near future?

The current industry trends and analysis point to the fact that the hospitality industry will continue to evolve in the near future in several ways. Some of the key areas where businesses will lay immense emphasis include an increase in sustainability practices, more personalized options, work and leisure integration, and health & wellness.