Hospitality Industry: Ready for a ‘Revenge’ rebound post-pandemic – Dr. Ruchita Verma

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    As #RevengeBuying #RevengeSpending become a trending topic of discussion, Hospitality Industry has all the reasons to be bullish on 2022-23

    Over the years, one thing we have learned is that a crisis breeds the ground for higher innovation and opportunities if monetized efficiently and resourcefully. The pandemic has elevated the need for reminiscing the softer tone of life charred with higher adoption of technology. The need to flatten the COVID-19 curve, led to some hard-hitting measures such as community lockdowns, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, travel, and mobility restrictions, resulting in a temporary closure of many hospitality businesses and a significant drop in demand. However, now as we are slowly returning to normalcy, the legacy habits of dining and traveling are spurting across the industry. The pent-up demand from the past two years is shaping the recovery path for the hospitality industry.

    There are obvious signs that the industry will continue to improve in the coming years. By 2028, the Indian tourism industry’s contribution to the GDP is expected to reach US$ 512 billion. The hotel industry is expected to reach a valuation of INR 1,210.87 Billion by 2023. Further, the travel market is projected to reach US$ 125 billion by FY27. Moreover, the Indian government allowing 100% foreign direct investment in tourism construction projects, development of hotels, resorts, and recreational facilities, will act as a driving force for the development of the sector.

    The industry is witnessing a stronger rebound in leisure than in corporate travel. The current trend to work remotely accelerated the growth of this segment allowing combining both business and pleasure travel. As per the information available from many universities abroad in an article sponsored by the Les Roche Global Hospitality Education, the simple human desire to reconnect after months of lockdowns is expected to drive increased leisure trip spending. People will travel to compensate for their missed vacation time. According to a 2022 trends survey by Booking.com, 79 % of travellers are now more receptive to varied sorts of vacations. While the hospitality sector is slowly rebounding, the COVID-19 situation continues to have a significant influence on how businesses operate in the hospitality industry to safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees and customers.

    Enabling Technology-Driven Experiences

    The rapid expansion of the industry in India and throughout the world can easily be connected to the revolution brought about by digitalization and technological innovation. In the hospitality business, online reservations and technology-enabled hotel management systems have already established themselves and currently, technological developments in customer service are accelerating substantially. Reduced human intervention for a seamless check-in and check-out, as well as minimizing interactions at restaurants, will be extensively embraced in addition to the benefits of technology. Indian consumers are growing more tech-savvy, which will aid the advancement of technology in the industry.

    Recovery to Domestic Travel

    International travel will likely start up slowly, but domestic travel is already picking up rapidly, as people look forward to unwinding after the consistent lockdowns. Domestic travellers’ willingness to visit more of the country will help the industries recover from the effects of Omicron, at least until international travel returns to normal. Domestic hotels and homestays are appealing most to the hybrid workers, stay-cationers, and business and leisure travellers who demand accessibility, affordability, connectivity, and comfort. ‘Revenge Tourism’ is also becoming a strong facet, especially with the vaccine rollout.

    Enhancing Experiences with Safety and Sustainability

    Unique and unexplored experiences have been popular for a few years, and this trend is continuing even now. Due to the pandemic effect, people have grown more cautious about the hotel’s hygiene and sanitization. Travellers are willing to travel great distances for a safe location that offers an earthy, even rustic, immersed delightful trip away from the throngs of major sites. If hotels in tier-2 and tier-3 cities can provide safety and amenities, they would be able to embrace more visitors. Even simple services, such as pet-friendly hotels and sufficient safety precautions for Covid, will attract a rising number of tourists.

    Author : Dr. Ruchita Verma, Dean, NMIMS School of Hospitality Management

    The hotel industry demand has recovered at a sharper pace post-Covid 2.0 restrictions. The Indian hospitality sector has a critical role to play in the post-pandemic economic revival and has been announced as the fourth pillar of the Indian economy.