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‘Hotels need to make sure they exceed expectations at every stage of their guests’ stay’

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In an exclusive interview, Julian Ayers, area vice president – North India and GM, Hyatt Regency Delhi shares his insights on the industry dynamics and why he feels the future of hospitality is connected to technology. By Steena Joy

What are your insights on the dynamics of the hospitality sector in India, especially in the north of the country?
Hotels and hospitality industry is driven by consumer behaviour and demand. The needs and desires of guests have led to the emergence of trends in the industry to improve guest relations and stay competitive. With the number of travellers increasing substantially every year, the hospitality industry is catering to a diverse range of guests and with the advent of technology, people are drawn towards services that meet their technological demands. Thus, to keep up with these demands, hotels have adapted to these technological changes.
Additionally, consumers tend to prefer hotels which offer exclusive experiences and a majority of these consumers are loyal to certain brands. In order to earn the loyalty, hotels need to modify their offerings and change according to customers’ expectations.

How does Hyatt as a brand fit into this scenario?
The hotel industry is constantly evolving these days. The future of the hospitality industry is connected to technology and its application as well as creation of personalised guest experiences. The evolution of technology continues to transform guests’ experience and enhance the overall hotel experience. Both customers and businesses can benefit from improved communication, reservations and guest service systems. There also has been a noticeable shift in recent trends in room and hotel design. At Hyatt Regency Delhi, we combine design and functionality to present unique concepts to the guests. We also endeavour to make the experience of the guest less of a hotel and more of a home.

You are overseeing operations of nine Hyatt properties most of which are in Tier 2/3 cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar, etc. We believe that these cities are the future growth engines for hospitality in India. Your comments.
Yes, definitely, we believe it is very important to expand our footprint into these cities. We want to play an important role as these communities continue to grow and thrive,

The importance of sustainability in the hospitality sector. Hyatt’s initiatives?
Plastic waste has become a major issue for our environment. From causing harm to the planet and clogging up the oceans to affecting wildlife, plastic waste is a serious problem. The hospitality industry is a major contributor to plastic waste, so it becomes imperative for them to look into ways to combat this problem. Along with contributing towards the wellness of the environment, reduction of plastic use by hotels also helps in portraying the hotels as conscious and sustainable. A lot of the times, guests prefer to stay at sustainable hotels in order to do their bit for the environment. Another advantage is the decrease in waste produced on a daily basis. The alternatives to plastic can be reused and recycled in turn reducing the amount of waste.
Hyatt Regency Delhi has recently launched its own in-house water bottling plant, making it one of the first few hotels in India to take this stride. The fully automated water bottling plant at Hyatt Regency Delhi endeavours to eradicate approximately 1.08 million plastic bottles a year, by making the switch to reusable glass bottles! This process saves 28 tons of plastic waste every year.
The chefs at Hyatt Regency Delhi have adopted several ways to ensure sustainability in the kitchen. Purchasing for food supplies is an important aspect of the hotel’s processes. A lot of thought and attention to detail is involved as some ingredients are sourced locally and the others are sourced from various other countries. The rule followed at Hyatt Regency Delhi is to buy only as much as is anticipated that will be needed at that point of time to reduce wastage to whatever extent possible. We believe the key to having a sustainable food supplies it to minimise waste.
Additionally, we have a contract with a government approved vendor to collect dry waste for its correct disposal, and for wet waste we have installed Biogas plant of capacity of 500 kg/day. The kitchen equipment does add to the hotel’s sustainability. Being truly sustainable is not just a matter of reducing food wastage, it is also about reducing overall wastage and trying to support local communities that our hotel is part of.

What are the challenges of satisfying the new age guest/traveller?
The hotel industry, driven by customer expectations when it comes to hygiene standards, exceptional service and customised personal experiences, faces a vast set of challenges. Combined with increasing competition, hotels need to make sure they exceed expectations at every stage of their guests’ stay. A few of the challenges faced by hotels on a regular basis include cleanliness, technology, sustainability, meaningful experiences, etc. Efficient housekeeping teams, innovative use of technology that benefits customers, and meeting the challenges and expectations of the guests in a sustainable way can ensure long term growth and loyalty amongst guests.

What is your people/management mantra?
Happy team, happy guests!

Future plans?
Hyatt Regency Delhi has been a pioneer in F&B in the city. This year the hotel is celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Italian specialty restaurant – La Piazza. Next year we will be celebrating the silver jubilee of TK’s Oriental Bar & Grill. We will be building on this legacy with the launch of our new outlet, which is going to be a modern Middle Eastern restaurant. Hopefully, it would be another gem under our culinary belt.

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