In every Hyatt hotel in India and around the world, at least one person is trained on the property as a hygiene and wellbeing manager who ensures compliance with the new operating guidelines. All of their hotels are currently up and running for some time. Sunjae Sharma, Vice President and Country Head, India, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, shares how the group is showing gradual signs of recovery.
What steps has Hyatt Hotels Corporation in India taken to create trust, build trust and serve customers?
Hyatt’s way forward is focused on welcoming guests and customers to Hyatt hotels and helping them relive the joy of travel. With a focus on safety and wellbeing, we’re re-imagining hotel travel with new amenities and offerings, and we’re taking comprehensive steps to implement improved protocols that make colleagues feel comfortable and secure at work.
At Hyatt, the well-being of colleagues is central to driving the care of guests and customers. In response to COVID-19, Hyatt has redefined the journey of colleagues to incorporate new work practices, resources for colleagues, and realignments to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues. In every Hyatt hotel in India and around the world, at least one person is trained on the property as a hygiene and wellbeing manager who ensures compliance with the new operating guidelines. In addition, daily colleague surveys were introduced to measure the comfort and well-being of colleagues. Hotel managers can take advantage of opportunities, make adjustments if necessary and meet the needs of colleagues in real time.
When we listen to our guests and customers, we know that we need to go beyond being clean and safe and focus on their holistic well-being now and in the future. Globally, we have announced the requirement for face coverings or face masks in indoor public areas, which include meeting and event spaces, restaurants and bars, and fitness centers, and with a few exceptions, we must move outside based on local laws or guidance. All Hyatt hotels offer face coverings for guests who do not have one.
We’ve also enhanced digital convenience through the World of Hyatt app, which lets guests manage preferences such as housekeeping planning, choosing between ordering or picking up groceries, entering mobile keys, contactless check-in and check-out, and more can. We are already seeing wonderful examples of our hotels reinterpreting the guest experience in India and around the world. This contains:
* * Hyatt Pune has converted two of our garden suites – including rooms with access to private gardens – into a premium restaurant
* * Hyatt Place Hyderabad Banjara Hills offers individual buffet-style meals that are composed and proportioned for each dining table
* * Alila Fort Bishangarh and Grand Hyatt Mumbai provide guests with virtual site inspections when selecting Hyatt venues
* * Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore, Hyatt Hyderabad Gachibowli and many others of our hotels offer a comfortable, luxurious and safe environment in which guests can relax and work by introducing a new workspace concept
* * Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya offers socially distant hammock classes
* * The Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow offers guests private dining in the suite and spa treatments in the suite
* * The Confidante Miami Beach broadcasts curated workouts from local gyms
* * Grand Hyatt Hong Kong has created a summer school with experiences for the whole family
* * The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe offers hybrid (personal and virtual) weddings
How was the revival for Hyatt Hotels Corporation in India? How many of your hotels are currently in operation?
Hyatt is in solid financial condition for the future. We have planned an extended recovery and have enough liquidity – cash plus borrowing on our line of credit – to operate for well over three years with very little demand. We believe this will give us a longer runway than many of our competitors and we expect demand to increase during the recovery period.
As the pandemic continues and a second wave of infections has risen in many regions, it is widely believed that both the travel and hospitality industries will see an accelerated recovery in hotel demand worldwide. The next few months will continue to be bumpy, but we are well prepared to overcome these times and emerge in a position of strength. All of our hotels are currently in operation and have been for some time.
To care for our local communities hit by the COVID-19 pandemic while redefining the hotel experience for guests, we launched Hyatt Loves Local, a global company that works with and promotes small businesses while promoting local culinary delights , Wellness and fashion products and art experiences for Hyatt guests.
As an international conglomerate, how do you compare the hospitality revival in India to other international markets? What lessons can India take in from other countries?
This is and was a pivotal time for Hyatt and the hospitality industry as a whole, and every experience learns. We are very encouraged by what we are seeing in China and across Asia, where case numbers have been steadily declining and utilization has been increasing at a substantial pace.
For India, too, our way forward is focused on welcoming guests and customers to Hyatt hotels and supporting them in every possible way to relive the joy of travel without compromising on safety. At Hyatt, we believe the industry is at a turning point and that our expertise and innovation could go a long way towards normalizing travel and hospitality in the new normal.
Our teams have worked with the utmost dedication and as we rebuild through recovery, we continue to focus on our goal – to care for people so they can do their best. Every business decision has been and will be made through the lens of this purpose and determines how we support and will continue to support our guests, employees and communities.
How would you like to revive business meetings and MICE events? Have innovative concepts been introduced to support this?
The resumption of domestic air traffic is a positive indicator for the hotel industry. Given that India is a large market, this could lead to a significant increase in domestic demand. Businesses are stepping up their business in the new normal, especially after the national lockdown has been relaxed. The emphasis is on welcoming guests looking for a safe, comfortable, yet luxurious stay.
We have redefined places and spaces to find the right balance between connection and space. Hyatt Hotels are exploring audiovisual technology that is providing customers with hybrid meeting options – on-site and remote – for large-scale sales events with a social distance in mind. We will continue to value the safety and well-being of our guests and colleagues. We believe technology is a critical tool in our mission to safely serve our guests. We focus on contactless menus and transactions but remain artisanal in most ways.
We also expect significant growth in the wedding segment, which we have found not to be badly affected by the pandemic. Weddings are still an important area of demand for hotels. In fact, we are very excited about the inquiries and bookings we have received for both weddings and business meetings.
What will be high on the agenda for Hyatt Hotels Corporation in 2021? What developments and challenges do you expect in 2021? Are there any new openings planned in India in 2021?
This is an exciting time to be at Hyatt. We believe the industry is at a turning point and our expertise and innovation could go a long way in normalizing travel and hospitality in the new normal. We also have the agility and purpose to take advantage of recreational opportunities. Our expertise has never been so valued and our innovations have never been so welcomed. In the months ahead, we will have the opportunity to define the next chapter of Hyatt and the entire hospitality industry. Our diversified pipeline (the number of new hotels expected to open in the coming years) provides even more confidence in our ability to weather the recovery and, on the other hand, come out stronger.
We have more than 950 hotels and over 500 hotels in our global pipeline today. Hyatt is focused on mindfully growing the lifestyle brands Alila, Hyatt Centric and Thompson Hotels. Almost 20 new hotels are expected to open in America over the next three years. Driven by the acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality in 2018, investing in our lifestyle brands fulfills our guests’ desire for hotels in top travel destinations with rich narration and upscale and intriguing programming that reflects each locale.
What do you think can be done to expand the ‘Incredible India’ brand, especially after Covid-19?
India’s appeal as a tourist destination – both for local and international tourists – is undisputed and cannot be matched by any other country. We are known for our hospitality, cultural experiences, beautiful locations and luxurious hotels. India is and will remain incredible as a tourist destination – despite Covid. The perceived reluctance to travel has nothing to do with the country, but everything to do with the pandemic. With vaccines rolling out around the world, it is only a matter of time before India opens its borders and welcomes tourists across the country to relive Incredible India.