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‘Fear and Unpredictability must be addressed’

The pandemic is not just a pause button for all industries but also a complete reset button across.

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The Coronavirus pandemic has adversely impacted the hospitality industry. I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime as we are fighting an invisible enemy. There is uncertainty at the municipal, state, and central level but despite that, we still start each day with renewed positivism and hope. We will be faced with a very difficult task ahead as there will be multiple challenges and different approaches and solutions to the same problems. The government has now allowed hotels to open in a gradual manner, but it will take a long time for the industry to return to pre-COVID 19 levels. But this a resilient industry and thus for those that have had to face sudden unemployment, I would urge them to look at job opportunities beyond hospitality now. At Neemrana, we have retained our entire team as our USP has been to generate local employment and to prevent rural migration to urban slums.

The pandemic is not just a pause button for all industries but also a complete reset button across. Organisations will have to rethink their strategic approach and internal processes. Every aspect must be investigated. 

Be Conservative

During these unprecedented times, maintaining a routine and being disciplined are key for mental health. For those working from home, it is essential to remember that they are not to put pressure on themselves. It is a new situation for all and therefore this must be looked at compassionately. This is an ideal time to go through old emails, information, and best practices that were implemented at various points of a company’s growth and journey.

This is a time to motivate the team members that may be going through their own internal crises. From the perspective of an organisation, this is a time to conserve cash and plan for a long battle ahead. The entire sales approach must be flexible and original. To ensure a healthy balance sheet, each organisation should be conservative. Whilst immediate future expansion plans may have to be put on hold for some time as they require investment, this is also a good time to identify key projects that may yield positive results in the future.

The travel industry will always be in demand as man is a traveller and will always have the quest of discovering new places and experiences. Gradual and planned expansion is always recommended. But there must be a proper analysis of the market before companies decide to add to the existing demand in established locations. Tier-II and tier-III cities and exotic destinations can of course be looked at in the future too. 

Road to Recovery

Each hotel/organisation must convey and flaunt their USP – for instance, Neemrana has pioneered in the heritage segment and in providing clients with magical destinations located in the countryside, by the riverside and the mountains. There must be a greater focus on training – it cannot be done in a haphazard manner. The new protocols for the industry must be ingrained in each staff member.

The hospitality industry has various bodies that have their set of unique goals. There must be a unified approach that keeps the interests of all stakeholder’s paramount. People are our biggest strength – treat them well through the crises and they will dedicate their life to our organisation. Organisations should endeavour to manage by reducing salaries and protecting as many jobs as possible. There will have to be a greater focus on enhancing efficiency and productivity with limited resources to combat the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Larger companies will have the opportunity to consolidate and grow. How much capital is going to be available in the market is the key. There will have to be a renewed focus on aligning cost structures with current cash flow and cash available to keep the company solid, people to room ratios will also have to be looked at carefully. Service and product offerings will have to be relooked at as hospitality is a people intensive industry.

Government’s Role

Unfortunately, hospitality has not received any of the reliefs that were requested to the government for which included a GST holiday for the entire travel and tourism industry for the entire fiscal year 2020-21. However, State governments can still waive off annual license charges and statutory dues which will help hotels survive through these tough times. 

Although, Incredible India will bounce back stronger than before. The Honourable Prime Minister’s initiative of encouraging Indians to discover at least 15 destinations within India by 2022 will play a key role in the revival of the tourism industry. How many Indians can proudly claim that they have travelled to each and every State and Union territory of their country?

The moment of Great Truth

In India, we are fortunate to have a civilisational wisdom which we can rely on where the humane, authentic and real win over all the false contraptions that the hospitality industry may have contrived in its race to outdo each other, by constantly escalating standards. The moment of great truth has arrived, so let us offer that which is our true strength, which the Indian heart always knows. Neemrana is counting on our guests to be won over with core Indian values – the mod cons come one step away.

There may be cases of employees and guests getting unwell on the premises. There is fear and unpredictability now and thus this must be addressed. This is a larger issue as it can happen anywhere and in any industry. It can happen to any hotel and any brand, no one can guarantee 100 per cent level safety. We are resilient and mature as an industry and thus this will have to be handled in our stride. The bigger focus will be to coach our colleagues to ensure that they are following all hygiene and sanitation practices and taking care of our employees and our guests in any kind of situation. 

People’s perceptions are already changing. The ownness to ensure that we follow all protocols after that is on us. We must be frank and honest with everyone concerned. But this is manageable, and we will have to take this in our stride.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Aman Nath

Aman Nath is an Indian writer, hotelier, and architectural restorer. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Neemrana Hotels.

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