Goldfinch Hotels is one of the brands of MRG Group with its presence in Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Mumbai and Faridabad (Delhi NCR). MRG has collaborated with luxury hotel chains Marriott and Hilton to launch Courtyard by Marriott Hebbal in Bengaluru and Double Tree by Hilton, Panaji in Goa. In an exclusive interview, Gaurav Shetty, managing director, MRG Group, talks about taking the Goldfinch Express to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and launching his own luxury brand .
How will COVID 19 change the hospitality landscape in India?
The hospitality industry has been amongst the worst hit not only in India but globally, and the impact may unfortunately not be too short-term. The year started on a great note, but the revenues have declined whilst the next quarter will share an upward movement. Being one of the biggest employment generators, the industry will see pay cuts and layoffs in the coming months which we as MRG group do not wish to inculcate into our work culture. A lot will depend on the request for relief on taxes, loan interest, etc, the FHRAI has requested the government as well. The hospitality industry has been there for decades and as it is the second oldest profession. We have seen many ups and downs. Though COVID 19 will change the industry as we know it, we are here to stay and this time too shall pass.
What is your brand’s future growth strategy post-COVID 19?
MRG Group was in the phase of expansion, which might slow down a little given the post COVID-19 market scenario. Post lockdown and the resulting onset of business and domestic travels, we are expecting our occupancy to increase. In our efforts to re-assure and address the existing fear amongst people, we are implementing new systems and processes for sanitisation, laundry and screening to ensure complete safety of our guests and staff once things resume.
We will evaluate the situation after the lockdown is lifted and people start moving out without fear. Once the market stabilises, we will also continue with our plans of bringing flavours of our coastal speciality restaurant Sana-di-ge to Mumbai.
What measures can hotel brands adopt to ensure an adequate cash flow/back up in such exigencies?
This has been a two-pronged effort for us. While as an industry that is vastly affected I am sure the government will have some favorable guidelines rolled out in the form of waivers which will definitely help the cash flow. As an organization we will be very aggressively looking into different and new avenues for optimizing our revenue as much as possible whilst at the same time creative sales strategies to promote our hotels and offer contact minimised stays and meals.
How can hotels motivate their associates/ teams in these trying times?
Due to the employee understanding of the situation, there is obviously a lot of concern in the minds of employees regarding layoffs. In these unprecedented times, it is very important to first acknowledge that the industry will revive and secondly that when it does we will need our skilled workforce to cater to the demand. Transparency is key to their understanding and it is important to talk to them and help them understand that every employee needs to step up and be more responsible in curbing unwanted expenses, and how they can support the company during this time. We try and work with our team and together find possible solutions to tide this unfortunate time.
The future footprint for Goldfinch Hotels?
We are optimistically working on the expansion as we have few hospitality projects in the pipeline across India. We will be opening up Goldfinch Express in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with an aim to provide personalised yet affordable hospitality to these cities. We are proud to announce the emergence of our own luxury brand under Goldfinch Signature along with the existing list of DoubleTree by Hilton-Panjim, Goa and Courtyard by Marriott – Hebbal, Bengaluru, Marriott- Vashi Mumbai. We have also signed up with two more properties with the Marriott International recently.