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Changing face of Chandigarh hospitality

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 17:21 Hrs  [IST]

One of the best examples of a well planned, urban city, Chandigarh is governed directly by the Union Government. The hotel industry in this beautiful city is going through a rough patch and is struggling to balance the demand and supply ratio. Chandigarh is home to luxury hotels like JW Marriott, Taj, Hyatt, Radisson, The Lalit and many more. Hospitality Biz brought together hoteliers from in and around the city to discuss the trends and developments in hotel industry in Chandigarh at the eighth edition of the Hospitality Leadership Forum.



Chandigarh, famously known as ‘The City Beautiful’ serves as a capital to two Indian states – Punjab and Haryana. This Union Territory is designed by the famous French Architect, Le Corbusier and is considered as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture of the 20th century. The hospitality landscape of Chandigarh has evolved since the last 10 - 15 years. Ecole Hoteliere & Hospitality Biz together organised a Hospitality Leadership Forum in Chandigarh on March 22 at JW Marriott Chandigarh.

CURRENT BUSINESS SCENARIO
The occupancy rate in the hotel industry has increased marginally in Chandigarh. The average annual occupancy rate in the budget and mid-market segment is about 70 – 75% and 60 – 65% in the up-market and luxury segment all round the year, informed the participants at the forum. But, while the occupancy rate has increased, the average room rate (ARR) has decreased. The forum brought to notice that the reason behind this is, over supply of rooms and comparatively lesser demand.

Many hotels have come up in Chandigarh, and many more are in the pipeline as the government had announced various infrastructural projects, IT parks and other industries that would come up in Chandigarh. Eventually, these projects that were supposed to come up in Chandigarh got cancelled by the government itself, but the hotel projects were not shelved and hence, this led to the oversupply of rooms.

Participants also said that since the last couple of years the Indian Premiere League (IPL) and projects like the new airport and roads coming up in the city have been a game changer for the hotel industry in Chandigarh. Hotels under the luxury segment record occupancy of around 90% from travellers who have come for business purpose and 10% for leisure purposes. Hotels under mid-market or budget segment get occupancy of 60 – 70% from business travellers and 20 – 30% from leisure travellers.

There is no threat from AirBnb as on date for the hotel industry in Chandigarh, but it may be a threat in the future and the industry has no issues with OYO rooms, said the participants at the forum.



EMERGING BUSINESS MODELS
The participants at the forum were of the opinion that consolidation seems to be the kind of business model that will work in today’s time. Mergers, acquisitions, larger brands taking over small one’s is the current trend in the hotel industry across the globe, and Chandigarh seems to be no different. But, in the whole process of merging, the uniqueness and individuality of each property or brand must be maintained as per the city in which the brand functions, argued the participants. The forum also raised a question whether international hotel brands should merely be flagging properties in cities like Chandigarh or actually be operating them as per the standards of the brand.

Few hoteliers in the mid-budget segment with limited inventory felt that outsourcing sales of hotel rooms to third party vendors will be the best way forward.

As far as OTAs are concerned, the participants informed that one has to turn a blind eye to the average room rate and cannot worry about maintaining any set standards in discounting or a minimum rate for the sale room inventory.

The forum agreed that delivering values to the guests in terms of rooms, services and reasonable rates will work for the hotel in the long term, as this would lead to loyal customers.



EDUCATION & MANPOWER DEVELOPMENT
Hospitality institutes and colleges in Punjab impart mediocre training and education on the subject. Students who pass out of these institutes are inadequate for the desired job that today’s hotel industry demand, was the general consensus at the discussion. So, the forum notified that the hotels in Chandigarh hire these students and have to train them in order to suit the requirements of the hotel industry. Most of the students who are trained in hospitality, leave the industry and join call centres and banks as they are not required to work long hours compared to hotel industry and they are paid better. All these make it difficult to hire staff for hotels in Chandigarh. However, it is the mid-market brands and small independent hotels that face this challenge when compared to their counterparts in the luxury segment.

Participants were of the opinion that the education system in Punjab must change and the people from the industry should give feedbacks to the institutes and urge them to change the syllabus and training with the present time.

PARTICIPAPANTS


  • Nathan Andrews , Director, Ecole Hoteliere at Lavasa (Moderator)

  • Sheldon Santwan , Editor & COO, Hospitality Biz (Co-Moderator)

  • Rohan Hiranandani , VP – Enrollment & Admissions, Ecole Hoteliere at Lavasa

  • Dilpreet Singh , GM, JW Marriott Chandigarh Surinder Singh , GM, Taj Chandigarh

  • Sandeep , Director of Sales, Taj Chandigarh

  • Imit Arora , Hotel Manager, The Lalit

  • V Muthu Kumaran , F&B Manager, The Lalit

  • Vipul Mohan , GM, Ramada Plaza

  • Anmol Luthra , Director of Sales, Holiday Inn

  • Binu Mukherjee , Sr. VP, Hotel Western Court Panchkula

  • Yogesh Sharma , Front Office Manager, Hotel Western Court Panchkula

  • Varun Grover , Owner, Hotel Turquoise Chandigarh

  • Gajender Kumar , Manager, Hotel Turquoise Chandigarh

  • Raizada , F&B Manager, Golden Tulip

  • Rajesh Kaundal , House Keeper, Hotel The Tulip

  • Krishan Lal Narang , MD, City Heart Hotels

  • Gunraj Singh , GM, The Golden Plaza Hotel & Spa

  • Harsha Mehta , HR Executive, The Golden Plaza Hotel & Spa

  • Subhendu Saha , GM, Hotel North Park

  • Man Mohan S Kohli , CEO, The Aroma Business Hotel & Aquamarine Boutique Hotel

  • Dilsher Sukhija , Director, Icon

  • Jaimine Preet Singh , Chef & B Manager, Icon

  • Rajesh Chandel , GM, Velvet Clarks Exotica

  • Puja Verma , Manager – HR, Velvet Clarks Exotica

  • Ramesh Desai , Front Office Manager, Hotel President

  • Sandeep Mongia , GM, Hotel Pelican

  • Neeraj Singla , GM, Hotel Royal Castle

  • Singla , GM, Hotel Royal Blue

 


MANAGING SOCIAL MEDIA
Hotels in Chandigarh are wary of TripAdvisors and other social media platforms. Hotels are worried about how to manage social media, as reviews that appear about the properties online are quite crucial and the reputation of hotels is at stake. Participants at the forum felt that social media platforms may not be as relevant in the future as it is in today’s time.

However currently, the social media phenomenon cannot be ignored by the hotel industry and every effort has to be made to ensure that one gets a good rating and review on the various existing media platforms. This has brought about a whole new way of doing business.

 
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