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‘There is a significant gap in the Indian market in terms of leisure properties’

Aiming to deliver unforgettable holidays to the travellers through its unique boutique properties, Gaurav Jain, MD, Aamod Resorts in an interaction with Akansha Pandey outlines how leisure properties today are lacking imagination, basic standards and professionalism

Friday, February 17, 2017, 12:34 Hrs  [IST]

Q How do you see the experiential travel trend evolving further? How has the hotel industry been shaping itself to attract this growing travel segment?
As the broader segment of the population is frequently increasing its appetite to travel for leisure, it becomes more demanding and discerning with increasing exposure to quality options. However, there is a significant gap in the Indian market in terms of leisure properties with expensive five-star deluxe properties at one end of the spectrum and small properties lacking imagination, basic standards and professionalism at the other end and a handful of options in between. Our model is to deliver unforgettable holidays to our guests through unique boutique properties which would fulfill the promise of a stay experience spent in total harmony with nature, our culture and our history.

Q How are you attracting a bigger pie of the MICE and social event cum wedding segment?
In 2016, 30% of our business came through Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) and 70% from leisure travel and our endeavour is to capture more and more of the potential MICE, social event and wedding business in future. What is important is the timing through the week and for holiday destinations throughout the year, due to seasonality. Therefore during holiday season and weekend, we aim to drive our revenue through Free Independent Travel (FIT) business. During the off-peak season, the objective is to gain as much as possible from the corporate and event business.

Q What will be the company’s marketing strategies for this year? How do you aim to attract your target audience further?
We have been witnessing an average occupancy of around 60-70% with an average room rate of INR 6000 in the last year. Going forward, our primary marketing strategy is to build a set of loyal customers by offering a quality product with a fulfilling and experiential holiday with exceptional service. Aamod is eyeing 20-25% business growth for the current year. However, there has been a negative impact of the economic slowdown which has impacted both corporate spending as well as family leisure budgets.

Aamod at Bhimtal, Nainital

Q What are the expansion plans of Aamod Resorts across resort, villa and farm house category for the current year?
We are continuing to expand rapidly. We started off in 2009 and our first property - Aamod Shoghi came up in May 2010. Till date we have seven properties operating under the Aamod brand name. Lat year, we have added properties in Ranikhet, Goa and Rishikesh to cater to our leisure audience. By the end of 2017, we plan to increase at least two more properties and over the next five years, we aim to add at least 8-10 resort locations. Our target is to double the revenue every year. These comprise mainly popular leisure destinations such as Kerala, Rajasthan, the tiger trail across Central India and Sri Lanka.

Recently, we have added 15 more properties to create a pan-India footprint.

Q As a hotelier what challenges do you confront in conducting your business and what better role you think the policy makers can play in promoting the hospitality sector?
One initiative that we would like to work on more aggressively is the rain water harvesting, renewable energy and recycle of kitchen waste. But they are often (ironically) restricted by local laws or in some cases lack of buy-in from property owners in the case of leased properties. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that this is and will change over a period of time with improving understanding and awareness of environmental issues. The government can play a better role in facilitating such initiatives.

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