The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the hospitality industry. In an interview with Voyager’s World, Subroto Banerjee, Founder & Principal Consultant, Kratos Hospitality, talks about the revival of the industry.
With general hotel demand depleting with the Covid-19 scenario, how do you see the Indian Hotel Investment market in the short term?
The year 2020 started on a disastrous note for the hospitality industry with the spread of the COVID-19. In the short term, the hotel development is very likely to be impacted negatively. Hotel investors and real estate developers would prefer to secure their capital investment and cash flows and see off the Covid impact.
Promoters at the time of submitting the proposal to the financial institutions should bear in mind
the following. They must keep a cushion in terms of repayment of EMI with an extended moratorium period.
There will be a long gestation period. Hence it is important to plan the resources needed for operations and to service the loans.
Do you see more traction in tier 2 and tier 3 cities?
Certainly, considering the relatively lower. The maximum number of brand signups are happening in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The average key signed per hotel is 90 and 75 in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, respectively. Across both domestic and international operators, tier 3 cities signups formed the major share of their geographical preference.
Domestic chains dominating these cities are no longer the norm. International chains have gained enough experience across Indian markets, with a more focused and flexible product offering to cater to the specific requirements of such markets. This means a more flexible approach on minimum hotel inventory as well as a more customised approach to F&B.
Commercial destinations dominate signups, while leisure destinations have seen strong traction as well.
Careful thought should be given to the marketing strategy and enforcement of Covid safety guidelines. The industry in India is generally very proactive in adopting new practices.
In terms of quicker gestation periods, most new city-based projects are going in for mixed-use facilities. What are your views on it?
The idea is to reduce expenditure in all areas of operation and look for new avenues to add to revenues. These are measures for survival. Government support at this stage would be much appreciated.
How important is F&B to the hotel revenue structure in India? How do you assess the F&B scenario for hotels for creating unique F&B brands?
In the current scenario, it is vital to increase F&B revenues for survival. The focus is shifting from room-centric hotels to a hotel offering a range of F&B services. Creating an F&B brand within a hotel should be given great importance. A well-positioned unique F&B brand would help get the required footfalls and popularise the hotel. The GOP percentage may drop, however, the overall revenue would increase.
What are the new trends in F&B dining experiences in India?
The impact of the novel coronavirus has been devastating. The restaurant industry in India today bears witness to one of the most challenging times it has ever faced, the extent of which can be understood by the fact that its mere survival is at stake. During the pandemic, prioritizing personal hygiene and public health is critical.
Hygiene ratings with detailed hygiene information, regular hygiene checks & usage of the mask and disposable gloves by waiters are likely to be the new standard, with diners expecting service personnel to sanitize tables & chairs at frequent intervals.
UV sanitizers before and after operating hours should be inducted.
Menu`s with ‘authenticity’ sub-regional cuisine; ingredients taking center-stage, and the rise of fast-casual are some evolving concepts.
F&B dining experience is always in a state on the continuous change that should be aligned to evolving customer requirements. This is the largest retail consumption category in India.
Apart from the usual, fine dining, casual dining, QSR, ice cream parlors, gourmet food trucks, and cloud kitchens. Etc
New additions are home cooks, highway restaurants, more varied quick-service restaurants.
Return to the root’s cuisine coupled with artistic plating techniques. Recreating grandmothers’ recipes and adding finesse in cooking and state of the art plating is being adopted, among others.
Health foods, organic, immune boosters, vegan foods will see a demand. Foods free of additives and non-processed foods. Sous vide cooking may see a resurgence.
There is a steady move from the standard curry towards fast-casual street food in the restaurant industry in India. Desi fusion is also in demand whether it is fast food or fine dining. Mediterranean, Pan Asian, Korean, European, World cuisine, etc all have a scope to be explored further. A team of creative artistic chefs can create magic.
Another interesting concept is the All Day Breakfast!
The breakfast menu has come up in a big way, and it is going to be the future of the restaurant industry in India. From waffles to Dosa or Sushi. An all-day wholesome breakfast buffet may see an introduction in hotel buffets.
Do you see hotel management brands offering more flexibility for new property owners?
Most certainly, this is a symbiotic relationship.
Hotel management companies are certainly sensitized to the Covid-19 situation and are more flexible in their approach for a win-win situation for both parties. This is imperative for a long-term association.
How do you see Kratos Hospitality adding value for greenfield projects in the hospitality sector in India and nearby countries?
Our panel of expert consultants is equipped with skills to offer specialized services, customized for the place and location.
Given the wealth of knowledge, expertise, and ethical approach, we, at Kratos Hospitality, advise and guide clients to make appropriate choices and correct decisions.
Our services are guaranteed to satisfy our clients’ requirements.
How important is choosing the right consulting partner for a new hospitality investors?
It is critical for an investor to take the correct decision of going to the right consultants. A good consultant is a catalyst for an organization that delivers top-class services. The consultant helps in the improvement of the revenue stream by thorough business analysis, by pinpointing the pain points and course correction.
Consultants with good educational background, extensive industry experience, and market credibility should be considered.
It is certainly a make or break decision. One should choose wisely.