In his book The Spirit to Serve, Marriott’s Way, JW Marriott, Jr. wrote, “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” In that sense India’s hospitality industry has made huge progress in the past ten years. We have seen it grow, evolve and consolidate. We have seen changes in hotel ownership and management, emergence of branded budget and economy hotels, growth and development of online reservation systems, an educated and well travelled Indian customer and the proliferation of lodging alternatives like Airbnb, Oyo, Zostels which have altered the hospitality landscape, bringing new complexity to the industry. Even in the restaurant space, Swiggy and Zomato served up success stories flying high on cloud kitchens. Wifi became a necessity as Millennials carried their own devices when they checked into their hotel rooms. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), Social Media, Big Data and Blockchain became the buzzwords coupled with Sustainability and Farm to Fork in hospitality’s new dictionary. But even as the changes moulded the industry, India’s homegrown brands created their own niche by offering their guests immersive experiences like heritage palaces, culinary trails and community connects.
As we move into the next decade, this ability to think differently, being alert and open-minded enough to adapt, addressing challenges and/or seizing opportunities, will determine which brands will become history and which ones will thrive. An example of differential strategy is Odisha which has just launched its Glamping initiative, the Marine Drive Eco Retreat. In his exclusive interview with us, Vishal Dev, commissioner-cum-secretary, Odisha Tourism, says that the concept of Glamping i.e. Glamorous Camping has caught on with not only the current generation, but also people of different age groups. Adapting to change has also been the differentiator for Express Food & Hospitality – we recently debuted our new initiatives – the Atithi Devo Bhava Confex Series and the GICC Live Series. We all need to move out of our comfort zones to grab market opportunities.
In our Cover Story, we asked industry leaders from GMs to VPs of leading hotel barnds and association heads to share their insights on the coming year. One of the observations was that highly customisable options such as the hyper-personalised room could be one of the big changes on the hospitality horizon. Another view was that we could also see a surge in the bookings from our guests residing in Tier 2 and 3 markets – with digitisation on the rise, guests are looking out for Insta-worthy experiences, something that they can brag about to their peers. The emergence of secondary and tertiary cities and the growth of micro-markets will add to India’s one billion opportunity appeal.
Express Food & Hospitality