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a cross section publication

Volume 2. Issue 8. September 2013. Rs 50

ALL ABOUT HOTELS & HOSPITALITY

5 STAR classification MoT proposed

The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa

guidelines indicate industry disconnect

Ahmedabad: Emerging trends in hospitality Heritage Hotels: prospects and challenges Doing more with less: an HR’s perspective The all important hotel bar: Searching for success

SPA SPECIAL Potential and challenges


EDITOR’S NOTE Dear Reader,

Volume 2. Issue 8. September 2013. Rs 50

a cross section publication

ALL ABOUT HOTELS & HOSPITALITY

5 STAR classification MoT proposed

The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa

guidelines indicate industry disconnect

Ahmedabad: Emerging trends in hospitality Heritage Hotels: prospects and challenges Doing more with less: an HR’s perspective The all important hotel bar: Searching for success

SPA SPECIAL Potential and challenges

Editor: Navin S Berry 

Managing Editor: Priyaanka Berry priyaanka@crosssectionmedia.com

Editorial: Anupriya Bishnoi, Nikita Chopra, Varalika Vij Advertising: Saurabh Shukla  saurabh@crosssectionmedia.com

Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani Hotelscapes is published and printed by Navin Berry, printed at Tara Art Printers Pvt. Ltd. A-46-47, Sector - V, Noida - 201301 (U.P.) and published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002. Editor: Navin S Berry, Tel: 91-11-43784444; Fax: 91-11-41001627. E-mail: info@crosssectionmedia.com This issue of Hotelscapes contains 64 pages plus 4 pages cover

The busy season for the industry is on hand. Traditionally, foreign groups business gets active from October. But the contours of the business in India have been changing dramatically. Foreign tourist groups have become marginal in metro cities and retain their relevance only in tourist towns and cities. Given the increase in supply, and the demand not matching it, ARRs are uniformly down. These are challenging times for the industry as a whole. This month, we look at the Spa Industry in India, that which has become an intrinsic part of hotels, is rapidly picking up and fast becoming a lucrative and innovative component of the overall business. The country’s growing importance and potential is clear as it plays host to the 7th edition of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit this month. Sallie Fraenkel, Executive VP of the Summit talks to us and highlights the allure and charm of India as the home of Ayurveda, Yoga and other natural wellness treatments. However, the spa industry is not without its challenges. We go on to interview leading hotel spas in Delhi NCR and discuss with them how they strategize and address these industry issues. In our monthly report, we look at the popular business city, Ahmedabad which witnessed an aggressive increase in supply over the past year due to its strong business profile and the fact that hoteliers find it easy to work with the transparent rules and regulations governing the industry. Next, we interview four leading players from the niche segment of Heritage Hotels in Forum of the Month that functions with its own unique set of challenges as most such hotels feature a small room inventory, with just a handful of properties of their own – making marketing a challenge. These are stand alone and manage on their own. Hiring skilled manpower is a continuous priority and issue that hoteliers deal with. We speak with Ashwin Shirali, Regional Director of HR, Accor Hotels India to ask how you can ‘do more with less’ and optimize HR utilization. In Industry report, we feature the recently released HVS Report on “Hotels in India trends and opportunities 2013” and bring you their very informative city-wise industry performance and trends. Another report released by HVS pertains to the Owners's Perspective – based on a conference organized by them at HICSA, earlier this year. Lastly in F&B, we speak with successful hotel bars and lounges across India and ask them what it takes to create the most sought after hotel bar – right from the design, the entertainment, the impressive line-up of exclusive spirits and the right paring of bar snacks.

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 1

EDITORIAL

Volume 2  Issue 8  SEPTEMBER 2013


September

CONTENTS

16 New Developments 4 Enjoying the first mover advantage Courtyard Marriott Pune Chakan

6 The Trident touch comes to Hyderabad

8 StayWell Hospitality launches its

44 28

The challenges of the Delhi/NCR spa hotel industry

Human Recources 34 Doing more with less: an HR’s perspective

Industry Report 38 An HVS Report: Long term prospects remain stable and positive

F&B 44 Creating a sought after hotel bar Design 48 Designing on a budget

first property in India

Issues & Concerns 10 5 Star classification: MoT proposed

Products 50 Mattress Special

guidelines indicate industry disconnect

Destination Report 12 Trends in Ahmedabad’s soaring

60 Movements in the Industry

Forum of the Month 16 Heritage Hotels: prospects and

Guest column

hospitality

challenges

Trends 20 Best in-room treats: luxury toiletries

Spa Special 24 Realizing and strengthening the

potential of the Indian spa industry

2 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

20

32

Guarding against food spoilage and wastage by Anil Bhandari Chairman, AB Smart Concepts

42

Leverage your online hotel reputation for better returns by Udai Singh Solanki CTO & Managing Director, eRevMax Technologies


“A Defining Moment” The Global Spa & Wellness Summit

October 5-7, 2013 ● New Delhi, India ● The Oberoi, Gurgaon The stage is set for the premier international event for industry leaders: the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, featuring over 20 high-profile speakers, new Industry Forums, the first Global Wellness Tourism Congress, new research, and an opportunity to help define the spa and wellness industry for years to come.

REGISTER TODAY AT

WWW.GSWS.ORG September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 3 GSWSIndia2013_Phase3ad_Hotelscapes81213.indd 1

8/12/2013 10:00:49 AM


NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Enjoying the first mover advantage Courtyard Marriott Pune Chakan

The recently opened Courtyard by Marriott Chakan is designed with an intention of providing business travellers with modern and essential comforts which include spacious rooms, lively dining options, a health centre, an inviting swimming pool and much more.

4 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

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he 10th Courtyard by Marriott was inaugurated with much splendour at Pune’s auto and manufacturing hub, Chakan. Marketed as a one stop destination for corporate travellers, who would like to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, The Courtyard by Marriott Chakan can also be seen as an urban resort and a wedding destination. Speaking factually, the hotel has 175 classy and spacious guest rooms and suites, including 12 residence suites, functional work spaces providing the perfect blend of upscale amenities for the business traveller.

A total area of 11710 sq. ft. meeting space, both indoor and outdoor, including four meeting rooms makes the hotel ideal for meeting, conferences and events. The hotel has been designed so simply, that it almost feels as a boutique property has been expanded to a bigger area. The most attractive part of it is the MoMo café, where one can treat himself to an eclectic mix of international and regional fare and offers a quick meal fix, within minutes, for those on the go. The guest can also laze at the MoMo bar, fitness centre or the pool side.


NEW DEVELOPMENTS

RAJEEV MENON AREA VICE PRESIDENT, SOUTH - ASIA, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC.

Chakan, Pune is an established industrial hub. Pune itself is an IT hub and neighbour to the business capital of the country. Our two existing Courtyard’s in Pune city are doing exceptionally well, hence it was only a matter of time, that we establish our presence in Chakan as well.

Having unwinded and relaxed ourselves at the property, Genera l M a n ager – R it u Chawla spent some time with us a day before the official launch ceremony.

obviously a big relevance to have moved in as the fourth property. Also, we have the comfort and know-how of how this city’s market operates. This is the third largest automobile hub in the country, and the biggest names like Mercedes and Volkswagen sit here, so someone had to make the first mover advantage. One of the primary agendas is to increase our existence in this belt because it’s untouched. A lot of homework has been done and we’re actually where the demand is. Pune has been a very good market over the years. It was close to home, since the head office resides in Mumbai. It just made sense to take it up at a location that was at the backyard really.

The biggest challenge currently in Pune seems to be oversupply. In such a scenario, how and why did you decide to set up a huge property? The oversupply is essentially in the city. If I share the Pune map with you, you would see that all the influx of hotels has actually been at one location and that is Koregaon Park, Viman Nagar etc. I think what we’re actually doing is moving towards an international model. In Shanghai alone, for example, Marriott has 22 hotels of all its different brands. China might have that kind of demand as well, but we’ve created a hub called Hingewadi. Then there’s a Pune city Centre Courtyard, which handles the hub of Magarpatta, Ranjangaon – which is an IT hub as well. Now we’ve found a hub, that is PimpriChinchwad and Chakan and we’re an answer for that as well.

How important was this project for the Marriott Group?

How much average room rate are you expecting here?

Chakan is a location, just one hour away from the main city of Pune, where Marriott has a very large presence already, so there was

Well we’re going to be in line with what most Courtyards do…anywhere between `4,500`5,000. So we will be in the upper

class, but not in the luxury zone.

How are you customizing the hotel for the business traveller? We a r e i n a b e l t w h e r e infrastructure is still upgrading itself. We have these Wi-Fi access points per room, even though most hotels share access points among 5-7 rooms. There’s also a software that ensures mobile network connectivity all the time. We do believe that a good percentage (30% – 40%) would be international traveller, and for them we have brought in a lot of local element and flavour to discover in food. To make it as comfortable as we can, we go to the individual level of customization for each traveller.

What eco sensitive is this hotel? The Cou r t ya rd by Ma r r iot t Chakan is Gold Certified Hotel by LEED. LEED is an American certif ication that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. With the certification, our hotel has committed itself to protecting the environment by reducing its operating costs gained from energy efficient practices and utility cost savings.

What do you predict can be the challenges for this property? This location is semi urban – So one of the challenges lies in blending with the society and community around. We don’t want to make them feel that we’ve come here and taken over. We’d like to grow with them. Availability of manpower can be an issue which is resolved by involving people from around. Another challenge is a mindset change. As I said, we maybe a little ahead of times at such a location.

Sooner or later, other chain hotels might

RITU CHAWLA

GENERAL MANAGER, COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT CHAKAN

Chakan being the automobile and manufacturing hub, the space needed to be filled for the luxury business traveller. The Courtyard is our answer for the same. Moreover, Pune has become a hub for MICE travel and Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan is suitably modeled to suit all business requirements.”

consider setting up their properties close by. How would this hotel stand out at the time of competition? We’re at the heart of Chakan MIDC, and in an MIDC plot that promotes hotels, so we have the first mover advantages, like tax benefits. Apart from that, as for today, we’re closest to the international airport at Pune (just 15 minutes away) which will shortly come up. ■ by VARALIKA VIJ

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 5


NEW DEVELOPMENTS

The Trident touch comes to Hyderabad with 323 rooms

L SHARAD PURI GENERAL MANAGER, TRIDENT, HYDERABAD

We want to offer discerning business and leisure travellers an oasis of tranquillity with service which is warm, caring and personalised.

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ocated in HITEC City, the hub of information technology, Trident, Hyderabad opens its doors to welcome guests this month. Based on a contemporary and modern design, the hotel boasts of 323 well-appointed guest rooms and suite, which are the largest in Hyderabad city. On this occasion, P.R.S. Oberoi, Executive Chairman of The Oberoi Group commented, “Hyderabad has emerged as a significant business destination and Trident, Hyderabad has been created with the discerning business traveller in mind. This hotel is a testimony of our vision for the Trident brand and its standards of excellence.” The dining options at Trident, Hyderabad include Amara, an all-day dining restaurant offering the best of world cuisine with an emphasis on Mediterranean and Asian food; Kanak, an Indian restaurant that serves Indian cuisine with a strong regional influence from Hyderabad. Another speciality cuisine restaurant is Tuscany serving

Italian which features an open display kitchen, wood fired oven and a wine tasting room offering a selection of fine wines. The hotel bar, Ninety Six, serves a selection of spirits, wines and cocktails. Trident meetings features state of the art facilities with a 24 hour business centre and 8 meeting rooms that can accommodate upto 14 guests. The extensive conference and banqueting facilities are spread over 13,000 sq.ft. with a prefunction area of 2,600 sq.ft. and are supported by the latest in technology. Leisure facilities include the Trident Spa, a Yoga Room and a fully equipped Fitness Centre. The reflective swimming pool with an infinity edge is a unique feature of the hotel. Describing the Trident experience, Sharad Puri, General Manager, Trident, Hyderabad added, “We want to offer discerning business and leisure travellers an oasis of tranquillity with service which is warm, caring and personalised”. ■

BASED ON A CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN DESIGN, THE HOTEL BOASTS OF 323 WELL-APPOINTED GUEST ROOMS AND SUITE, WHICH ARE THE LARGEST IN HYDERABAD CITY.

6 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


NEW DEVELOPMENTS

StayWell Hospitality launches its first property in India

A

ustralia based hotel management group, StayWell Hospitality Group ventures into India with the launch of the Leisure Inn Grand Chanakya Jaipur, Rajasthan. Speaking on the occasion, Simon Wan, CEO & Group Managing Director of StayWell said, “We are pleased to expand our portfolio in one of the biggest emerging markets in the world”. Talking on the expansion plans, Rohit Vig, Managing Director for StayWell Hospitality stated that “We are well under way to have six more properties opening in Gurgaon, Mumbai, Greater Noida, Raipur, Hyderabad and Goa within the next 9 months and aim to have 25 properties across all key cities in India by 2015”. Located on M.I. Road Jaipur, the hotel offers extensive facilities for guests with 52 well-appointed rooms and international standard services including complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, work desk, tea and coffee making facilities, 24 hour room service, gymnasium, massage room and business centre. For dining, they offer a traditional Rajasthani cuisine at Grand Chanakya, all day dining at Café Viva and rooftop dining at Arya Bar and Grill. ■

8 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


ISSUES & CONCERNS

5 Star classification: MoT proposed guidelines indicate industry disconnect

M

oT has come out w ith its proposed will be zero possibility of such false claims. guidelines for classification of hotels. The Classification was necessary in the past, as first question that comes to mind: how it was incumbent upon hotels to come to the much is classification necessary? With the chains Ministry for approvals, for grant of loans, and today, both Indian as well as international, the also for imports. Today, technically, it is possible differentiators are far too well defined. If you take for a hotel to start operations without any central an Accor or a Marriott hotel, within the chain, the approvals – land and building come essentially defining lines are sharp enough. An Indian chain within the state sector. like the Taj Group has categorised its facilities, and There has also been a school of thought that most effectively – no one is breaking them into star classification has outlived its utility – and a stars any more. A Vivanta few wise hoteliers have is understood as not being suggested just three slots – a Taj Luxury. In fact, the luxury or deluxe, standard controls are so rigid, that and budget. Every facility some of their 4 star hotels can easily get classified are assumed as 5 star in amongst these three. All the Indian context. else is redundant. Whether you are wellMeetings have been heeled, or first time or held between the FHRAI casual traveller, there is and the Ministry. Many of so much information on the grey areas have been the internet, and rates are identified. Many of the so transparent today, that provisions are not possible there is little not in the in existing hotels. So these open. are being considered for Facilities are equally hotels that come for demarcated. The service classification effectively is assumed to be common into the future. There and best in class. It is are contentious issues, the number and class of even as the Ministry has restaurants, the overall released the guidelines range of services offered – and thereby introduced International brands have distinct verticals where government classifications become unnecessary. even the budget category them as effective! is far too well orchestrated, to leave little or no room At the recent IATO conference in Kochi, the for ambiguity. first business session that was convened, and THE FIRST There could be a case for non-branded hotels, moderated by the writer, the subject was the need REACTION as they may or may not follow any internationally for the industry and government to work together. accepted guidelines. But today, given the mood of These were two sides of the same coin, and what BEING, HOW the competition, few hotels would risk positioning was underscored was the need for both sectors to MUCH IS themselves out of their context. No hotel will risk understand the scope and limitation of the other. CLASSIFICATION Arbitrary decisions will always be irritants and pose saying it is 5-star when it is just 4 or 3! It would be NECESSARY? too counter productive for it, and will lose business. needless hurdles in our growth as an industry. ■ But in the true five star, and even 4-star range, there by NAVIN BERRY

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10 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


Drawer MiniBar

New standards in convenience

Phone : +91-11-41679640 / 40910000, Cell: 9810302264 E-Mail : ajay@eagle-grp.com, ajaykhannadelhi@hotmail.com Correspondence : C-71, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase - I, New Delhi - 110020, INDIA


DESTINATION REPORT: AHMEDABAD

Trends in Ahmedabad’s soaring hospitality Ahmedabad has been recently building up its skyline with new entrants in the hospitality industry and international chains coming up with their brands in the city to serve the leisure as well as the corporate travellers. Taking a cue from these developments, we bring to you what trends and challenges do the General Managers of hotels in Ahmedabad have faced and foresee. General Trends in the Industry Few international brands have entered into the hospitality scene of Ahmedabad in last one year and many are in the pipeline. So this will help the corporate and leisure travellers to choose from an array of options available. To be different in this kind of competition, hotels have been introducing world class technologies and infrastructure along with delectable cuisines to their properties. As per the HVS 2013 report, Ahmedabad featured among the cities that witnessed one of the most aggressive increase i n s upply i n 2012/13. The city added an additional 25% inventory in 2012/13. Taking a look at the inclination towards

seasonal guest inflows, food and beverage and technology, Darius Merchant, General Manager, The Gateway Hotel, Ummed Ahmedabad says, “Because of its proximity to Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad does not have a major change in the inflow of guest, as this is pre-dominantly a business city. Except, like rest of the country, winters attract NRG’s, as they come visiting family and friends; also there is a lot of vigour during Navratri festivals. Besides, weather is good, hence business travels in this period increases. With new brands coming into the city the F&B offering and scenario is changing drastically. Today the customer knows his food and what he wants, due to so much of information available on the

DARIUS MERCHANT

GENERAL MANAGER, THE GATEWAY HOTEL, UMMED AHMEDABAD

With new brands coming into the city the F&B offering and scenario is changing drastically. Today the customer knows his food and what he wants, due to so much of information available on the net and media. Taste is not the only criteria, presentation and storytelling on the food is a must.

12 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

net and media. Taste is not the only criteria, presentation and storytelling on the food is a must. These days’ people eat more with the eyes than their mouths and are extremely health conscious. We at the gateway have a unique food concept called “ACTIVE – FOOD” which is a unique offering of low glycemic foods and super foods with anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, which have g r e at he a lt h b e ne f it s . The technology being implemented is all as per industry norms, as i-Pads and i-Phone charging docks are a must have these days. High speed net access is no more a luxury, it’s a common offering. An area to watch out is how social media becomes a tool for driving business to various brands.” The city has predominantly seen guest inf lows from both corporate and domestic leisure seg ment. Gi r ish Ga nesha n, G e n e r a l M a n a g e r, Hy a t t Ahmedabad further points out specific preferences of guests, he s ay s , “Pe ople he r e love Nonya (our Pan Asian Specialty restaurant) and especially the Sunday Buffet Lunch that we have recently started. We have received tremendous response from the local community. We have asked for airport pickup and drop to be a part of amenities and we have tied up with radio cabs to provide services which


DESTINATION REPORT: AHMEDABAD have been received well with our travellers. Wi-Fi services are very important today for the success of the hotel. Hyatt Ahmedabad has upgraded on the Wi-Fi service that makes speed access to the internet sites which many of the corporate travellers look for, we have also included Executive Lounge services during day and evening time which has got innovative F&B offers that helps to organise meetings and small gatherings.” Courtya rd By Ma rriott, Ahmedabad was one of the first international brands to come in the city, Prashant Kumar, General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad tells us that Ahmedabad is a corporate hub w ith automobi le a nd pharmaceuticals being its major sectors. The peak time for the city starts from September and stretches on till March. “F&B has a very different flow in the city due to Shrad and Shravan, and vegetarian is loved the most. In terms of technology, Wi-Fi has become a must, and is not additionally charged. Whereas, we charge them who demand higher speed, as we have different tiers of Wi-Fi that a customer can choose from. Luxury is no more about smot her i ng services; it is on you how you save the customer. There are many big hotels coming up in the city. I foresee 40% increase in inventory in the next 6-8 months. We used to have smaller hotels but now we are getting much bigger hotels too. Because Ahmedabad is a corporate hub, the slowdown of the economy is very evident,” he adds.

Why Ahmedabad? Choosing a particular city for you r prop er t y is a ver y crucial decision which involves measuring various dynamics. With so many hotels in the city, it is a note of caution for the

new entrants as there is severe pressure on room rates due to oversupply of hotels. The city is seeing continuous growth in various segments, and the government is also supportive i n the development. Vi ka s Ahluwalia, General Manager, Aloft Hotel Ahmedabad tells us why the city was a good choice for one of t hei r prop er t ie s, “Ahmedabad city and the state of Gujarat is seeing continuous growth and development on

GIRISH GANESHAN

GENERAL MANAGER, HYATT, AHMEDABAD

Ahmedabad has got lot of potential of corporate traffic, MICE segment and leisure travellers being future and we are very optimistic of this growing emerging market in India. Our F&B offerings are positioned as innovative dining experience to our guests.

various parameters over the past few years and the future looks good for business .There are quite a few new projects coming in and companies setting up business in Gujarat because of the support received from the government. It’s comparatively easier to set up business here than some other cities and states. Secondly people from here travel across the globe and are exposed to the new trends in the hospitality industry, so why not offer them the same in their backyard,” he explains. The HVS report 2013 says, “Wh i le dema nd g row t h for Ahmedabad remains strong, the impending supply in the next two-to-three years is expected to result in occupancy and rate pressures. Thereafter, as growth i n supply ea s e s, we ex p e ct market-wide performance to gradually improve.” Further to this, Ranganath Budumooru, General Manager, Holiday Inn Express Ahmedabad tells us a few points which made this city an appropriate option for Holiday Inn Express to have their new property, “Ahmedabad is an extremely dynamic city with

robust development history in industrial, textile and tourism sectors. Ahmedabad is developing excellent urban infrastructure for services economy which is largely an urban phenomenon. P re sence of ma ny busi ne ss conglomerates, an education and R&D hub leading to domestic and international travel, Consistent, fo c u s e d e c ono m ic g r ow t h, limited presence of International hospitality brands in the midscale segments, and tourism is amongst their focus sectors. All of these mentioned points h ave au g m e nt e d d o m e s t i c a nd i nt er nat iona l t ravel ; creating demand for quality accommodation. We were also successful in securing a prime site for the hotel central to key corporate business market with the right business partner, one who sha red ou r v ision a nd business interest,” he said. Supporting the same, Kumar says, “It i s ver y ea sy to do business in Ahmedabad as the permissions are easily available, the rules and regulations are very straightforward and the process is very transparent which

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 13


DESTINATION REPORT: AHMEDABAD makes it easy for any company to start their venture with no delay as per many other states. Also, the Gujarat government is very accessible and keeps the whole industry tightly intact. They also give us a luxury tax-back which encourages people to venture into it.”

Challenges & Rewards Every region while providing opportunities also brings along hurdles and challenges. The main hurdles that most of the hotels face at lot of places, is

VIKAS AHLUWALIA

GENERAL MANAGER, ALOFT HOTEL

It’s comparatively easier to set up business here than some other cities and states. Secondly people from here travel across the globe and are exposed to the new trends in the hospitality industry, so why not offer them the same in their backyard.

finding the perfect talent and staff and retaining it. Similar is the situation in Ahmedabad too. Explaining some of the prominent hurdles that they had to face, Ahluwalia says, “There were two big hurdles that we faced – first was the delay in the approva l due to the re structuring of the areas between Ahmedabad Urban Development Aut hor it y a nd A h me dabad Municipal Corporation led to a difference in their standards. Though we were not the only ones affected by the change, it definitely was a big hurdle as decisions and approvals by the government led to further delays. Secondly, getting the right talents for the hotel and retaining them was also a challenge. We are a young brand, so it is of utmost importance to find the right fit of associates to join us and deliver. Retaining them is certainly a challenge for us which we are add ressing a nd work ing on collectively.” Along with the challenges, having a new hotel in the city has its own perks too, “Ahmedabad is a growing city and people like to try new things. So once they get to know a new hotel / restaurant has opened, it would be easier for them to come and try a new place and then it

14 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

is up to the team to retain them by providing high standards of service and experiences,” adds Ahluwalia. Many believe that A h m e d a b a d i s a c it y w it h maximum number of corporate travellers i n compa rison to leisure, explaining the reason for the same, Merchant says, “Ahmedabad has grown in its stature because of a stable and well managed administrative machinery, the vibrant summits and other initiatives have drawn interest and over the years a lot of corporate movement has increased besides diplomatic missions.” Hosting some of the leading exhibitions in town, Ganeshan tel ls about h is st udy of the cl ient ele, “We have s e en a study flow of South East Asian corporate companies visiting Ahmedabad. We also have local high end jewellery exhibition, tex ti le ex h ibition that ta ke place in the prominent clubs in Ahmedabad that invite many domestic group travellers. I am confident that this segment will further grow with industrial economy and tourism economy.” Ahmedabad certainly holds promising and encouraging opportunities in various sectors.

RANGANATH BUDUMOORU GENERAL MANAGER, HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, AHMEDABAD

India is our priority market with third largest pipeline. We are delighted to bring the Holiday Inn Express brand experience to Indian travellers – who are evolved, value quality and are SMART travellers. We view Ahmedabad to become a high profile city with strong future.


DESTINATION REPORT: AHMEDABAD

“India is our priority market with third largest pipeline. Opening of Hol iday I n n E x press has increased our footprint in the Indian market. We are delighted to bring the Holiday Inn Express bra nd ex perience to Ind ia n travellers – who are evolved, value quality and are SMART travellers. We view Ahmedabad to become a high profile city with strong future,” says Budumooru. Another very interesting point mentioned by Kumar, is regarding the challenges in terms of food and beverages. He says, “As Ahmedabad is a dry state, serving alcohol becomes a problem. With expats travelling for work and leisure in the city,

this is a part of their culture and it hits you on your face when they expect to have it. Also, during the buffets, we need to separate our vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections as just marking it with a red or a green dot is not sufficient.”

Future Plans & Growth Potentials After going through all the challenges and coming out with a bright phase, Merchant tells us how they are positioning their property, what growth potential does the city holds and their future plans, “We do have plans for expansion as unlike other hotels we have a lot of space which we own and at the right time we shall do the needful. We are a 5 star business hotel located just 1 kilometre away from the airport; and we are the safest location in the city as we have the army as our neighbour and share our boundary walls with them. More hotels are coming in, an already overcrowded space but we all need to look at our own segments and constantly innovate. Brands and loyalty programmes will drive business, growth will continue as there are yet some investors who do not understand the complexity of

hospitality and would risk enter in to the same.” Talking about the growth potential of hospitality industry in the city, Ahluwalia says, “The city is seeing additional supply of room s bei ng adde d w it h most of the major international hospitality chains like Starwood setting up hotels. This will add on to the competition within the industry and will certainly keep us on the toes to maintain and improve our standards and offer the very best to our guests. And this in turn will make our guest delighted…” Further to this, Ganeshan tells us about the expansion plans of Hyatt Hotel Ahmedabad and the prospects that the city holds. He says, “Hyatt Hotels Corporation that has planned opening of many hotels across India and Gujarat state is a prominent place for more g row t h a nd opportunity. Ahmedabad has got lot of potential of corporate traffic, MICE segment and leisure travellers being future and we are very optimistic of this growing emerging market in India. We are positioning our property as most preferred hotel for corporate a nd lei su re t ravel lers f rom rooms located around beautiful surroundings of Vastrapur lake

PRASHANT KUMAR

GENERAL MANAGER, COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT, AHMEDABAD

It is very easy to do business in Ahmedabad as the permissions are easily available, the rules and regulations are very straightforward and the process is very transparent. They also give us a luxury taxback which encourages people to venture into it.

and one of the largest mall in the city. Our F&B offerings are positioned as innovative dining experience to our guests.” “Barring this little slowdown, there is huge potential in the city. With metro coming up on the Gandhinagar – Ahmedabad route and the Mumbai – Delhi Industrial Corridor Project will bring in vast opportunities to the city. It is just the matter of time; we need to pass through this difficult period with patience,” Kumar adds on. ■ by NIKITA CHOPRA

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 15


FORUM OF THE MONTH

Heritage Hotels:

prospects and challenges It takes an artistic yet business bend of mind to find possibility of a palatial heritage hotel in some of the oldest building stock of the country. While these masterminds have succeeded in doing so and have converted those once viewed ancient deteriorating money pits into the most impressive accommodations for travellers, they also do face some challenges that are very atypical to ones the usual luxury hotels confront. Small inventory of rooms and disputes in marketing heritage properties…astronomical costs…finding skilled manpower in the remotest of areas… these and many more concerns are being faced head strongly. Saving astronomical costs It was a roaring discussion at the recently held 17th regional convention of the Hotel and R e s t au r a n t a s s o c i a t i o n o f India (HRAWI) too – when the exorbitant costs of maintaining a property couples with the ego hassles of an Indian hotelier, the return on investment suffers heavily. And especially when it comes to managing a heritage prop er t y, t he ow ner s leave no stone unturned to create a

structural design and interiors that takes the guests far back to grandeur of the earliest ages. Say s D e e p a k Oh r i, C E O, lebua Hotels and Resorts, “Most heritage buildings in India were well conceived and well built. If they are genuinely a heritage building, they have endured and survived time and generations of residents. In our case, the Devi Garh by lebua, Udaipur has been lovingly restored and rejuvenated over a period of time, and essentially maintenance

and upkeep is a labour of detail, passion and commitment. If the issues of wear-and-tear are addressed effectively and on an on-going and as-needed basis, the costs are similar to those of any high-quality establishment: paint, polish, repair.” He further explains, “It is when you go against the original grain that heritage buildings incur high expenses, for example, putting air-conditioning ducts through three-foot-thick walls, re - con f ig u r i ng plu mbi ng,

DEEPAK OHRI

CEO, LEBUA HOTELS AND RESORTS

Essentially a boutique heritage property is not a typical hotel. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the correct guest profile is targeted – high net worth individuals, people who value bespoke and non-cookie-cutter approaches to design, service and culinary experiences are the correct profile.

installing electricity. These are expensive to install and m a i nt a i n. H VAC ( he at i n g, ventilation and air-conditioning) is a high cost expenditure due to inherent inefficiencies. We attempt to strike a balance by ensuring that the touch-ups and polishing are maintained on all the relevant surfaces and areas like the ageing exterior domes. A constant vigil has to be maintained against seepage and leakage, and waterproofing

16 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


FORUM OF THE MONTH

has to be revisited at least once a year. HLP and HVAC costs are being addressed by bringing i n n e w e r, m o r e a d v a n c e d t e c h n o l o g y, w h i c h w h e n installed brings efficiencies. R&M costs are anywhere between 4%5% – a few percentage points higher than modern buildings.” Ad it yave er Si ng h, GMGroup Operations, HRH Group of Hotels, Udaipur agrees that upkeep and maintenance are huge costs, and they have to develop in-house teams who have the expertise and the sensitivities to handle heritage properties. “The management has to keep an eye on costs at all times, but in heritage hospitality today we have to measure up to high service standards. This is the real challenge,” he says. F r a n c i s Wa c z i a r g , C o Chairman, Neemrana Hotels Pvt. Ltd. clarifies that the expenses depend a lot on the age of a heritage building one chooses – “It depends on the property. There are properties that demand more maintenance than others. Our properties are spread over seven centuries. The earliest one is The Hill Fort Kesroli, near Alwar – that is 14th century. We are able to control the costs because some of our old properties have

a very rugged look. So it doesn’t matter if the paint is a little torn. You have to retain the oldness of such buildings.” He states straightforwardly, “We have to repaint every year. The expenses are manageable. Otherwise we won’t be in the business.” Urging for a requirement in low rate finance for owners, Randhir Vikram Singh, Joint Managing Director, Hotel Castle Mandhawa says, “Old properties incur heav y expenditure in a reas of repa i r, restorat ion and conversion which require finance at low interest rates and tax relief.”

Target and chase of the right guest segment Heritage hotels are various pieces of art, that cannot be easily comprehended by anyone and everyone. The high end leisure traveller may or may not be able to grasp the milieu while residing in the property. As Deepak Ohri cor rectly deciphers – “The biggest challenge is selecting the right guest segment and profile to target and chase. Essentially a boutique heritage property is not a typical hotel – it is a personal experience, an immersion into history, culture, lifestyle, food a nd ho l i s t i c r e juve n at io n .

Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the correct guest profile is targeted – high net worth individuals, people who value bespoke and non-cookiecutter approaches to design, service and culinary experiences are the correct profile. Engaging with this target audience is critical, and we do that across various platforms.” “A critical emerging trend for high-end leisure travel is opinion drivers, and in the positioning of a property we rely heavily on the experiences to be derived from our lifestyle of ferings, cutting-edge food and beverage concepts, a nd qua l it y. Th is drives a buzz that results in hype to perception, and as we know, perception is reality. Good stories and personal recommendations f rom ou r g uests is the best form of marketing for all niche or aspiring niche properties. The essence of marketing is to create a demand for products and services, and for us this is achieved through lifestyle bu z z creation and the hype surrounding certain novelties that we bring to the table,” he explicates. Talking about his group’s ubiqu itous ma rket i ng web, Adityaveer Singh puts forth that

ADITYAVEER SINGH

GM-GROUP OPERATIONS, HRH GROUP OF HOTELS

Yes, it is a management challenge to balance all the cost-heads but never lose sight of satisfying the guests or upgrading services and offerings at all times...To stay ahead in hospitality, we have to understand the global and domestic trends and plan accordingly.

HRH Group of Hotels is now into its fourth decade of operations. “We have international offices a nd repre s ent at ive s i n key developed markets, besides having sales offices in India. We work closely with the leading travel agencies and tour operators of the world. Our focus has always been to ‘market the destination’. Th r oug h ou r web s it e s a nd corporate literature we highlight the destination and the variety of activities and experiences for

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 17


FORUM OF THE MONTH suggests Randhir Vikram Singh. According to Deepak, there is a tendency for heritage hotels “to attempt to solicit business from all markets”. He advices “to narrow down individual USP and always play to your strengths, and from there on, the marketing is a natural and organic process.”

Employer by choice or chance?

FRANCIS WACZIARG

CO-CHAIRMAN, NEEMRANA HOTELS PVT. LTD

The strength of heritage properties is that they are located in rural areas since it empowers the local populace, which is very essential. So we train them. They take pride in their region, language, because it’s their territory, and they bring to a heritage hotel what it needs the most authenticity.

The shortage of skilled manpower seems to be an all pervading issue in the Indian hospitality industry. And when it comes to heritage hotels, the problems gets severe since most of these properties are located at the remotest of destinations. Randhir Vikram Singh brings to notice that professionals and skilled manpower do not want to stay in rural areas because of lack of facilities and therefore to retain them, one has to pay higher salaries. For Adityaveer Singh, skilled hospitality staff is as precious as gold. However, for Francis, the rural locations of heritage are their very strength – “The strength of heritage properties is that they are located in rural areas since it empowers the local populace,

the luxury travellers. It is for this reason that a heritage-city like Udaipur was voted as the ‘best city in the world to visit’ by Travel+Leisure in 2009. It was a remarkable tribute to efforts of all stakeholders in Udaipur who made possible this achievement.” “Creating awareness of the local a rea and the heritage property along with the attractions in international as well as domestic market with the help of travel agents, social sites and advertisements…word to mouth publicity also helps, “

18 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

which is very essential. So we train them. We don’t take people necessarily who have done hotel management. They take pride in their region, language, because it’s their territory, it is their area, village and brings to a heritage hotel what it needs the most authenticity. Now for example - In south India, we don’t employ North Indians, because their body language and culture is different, and it is very important that a heritage property reflects the culture and feel of the an area.” Deepak Ohri addresses the issue as “critical”. He says, “The challenge of manpower shortage must be addressed pragmatically. A heritage property offers unique opportunities, and ideally we need to have skilled professionals who are also highly personalised team members. This can be achieved by creating a good mix in our talent pool. We are fully aware that after identifying and bringing in some skilled and ambitious professionals, within two years they will move away from these remote places for career progression, but if we team them up with people from the local area who need to be

trained and nurtured, within two or three years these new recruits will emerge as solid performers, providing us with a good balance of expected transients in cyclical doses and a solid baseline of local area people.” Ohri gives simplistic guidelines – “Choose people who have the right attitude and service orientation, create a comprehensive training programme for local youth for creating livelihoods, and partner with the right institutes for apprenticeships. But remember that these institutes and students want to partner with you only if there is a genuine two-way benefit in terms of gaining knowledge and practical skills that offer the promise of a better life for them and a long-term talent harvest for the properties.”

Balancing costheads – yet uncompromising of quality While a general luxury hotel has a large inventory of rooms, a t y pica l her itage proper t y boasts of maximum 30 rooms. Up keeping the salaries, food and luxury standards in such a scenario need strategy. Randhir


FORUM OF THE MONTH

Vikram Singh lists one tested solution – “Most of the family members of her itage hotels have involved themselves in the various departments of the hotel to reduce the cost. Locally hired staff is trained to do the day to day work and maintain standards in the present scenario.” De epa k sp ea k s a s a t r ue heritage hotelier – “By taking an extremely quality-oriented and bespoke approach to everything, one that is aligned to our values, we offer the best and charge accordingly. People are aware of this and pay for quality but are also unforgiving at those price points.” He adds, “Maintaining things like salaries is about balance. You do need a few professionals and to keep them happy, their compensation and perks have to be competitive in an aspirational market from their perspective. The trick is to align your manning on a variable scale, do away with people you do not need, and invest in training and quality. Job combination, where hosts replace associates – 5 hosts are better than 12 associates – is another.” Francis confirms that their salaries are at par with the 5 stars – and sometimes, better. “Neemrana has 65 rooms,

and has approximately 2 persons per room –, with a total of around 120 people, which is not much. We don’t bargain on the salaries, but try to reduce the people in term of numbers.” Adityaveer Singh ascertains, “ Ye s , i t i s a m a n a g e m e n t challenge to balance all the cost-heads but never lose sight of s at i s f y i ng t he g ue s t s or upgrading services and offerings at all times.”

Budding sensibilities of Foreign and Domestic Tourists Much to the criticism of literary theorists, India continues to be called an ‘exotic’ land. The ‘eating from hands’ tradition, ma ha rajas a nd ma ha ra n is, spices and sanskrit, mughal architecture and old palaces… all of this and more continues to attract the foreign tourist. But is the domestic traveller acknowledging his heritage yet? Francis says they are. Talking factually, he states, “It’s amazing that 80 % of ou r clients a re domestic. In the beginning, 6570% were foreigners, but it has changed because now we are all aware of our heritage, and we try to acknowledge it. Except the low seasons, inbound tourism is

also good.” Adityaveer Singh points out that the Heritage Hotels across t he cou nt r y a nd e sp ecia l ly in Udaipur are increasingly becom i ng more of wedd i ng destinations.“To stay ahead i n ho s p it a l it y, we h ave t o u nder st a nd t he g loba l a nd domestic trends and plan accordingly.” He repeats the quest ions Cha i r ma n, Sh r iji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur asked wh i le add ressi ng the H IC SA 2013 c on fer enc e i n Mumbai – “Do we have our st rat eg ie s i n plac e for t h i s growing business? Randhir Vikram Singh, on the contrary, is of the opinion that foreign tourists are more inclined to enjoy the luxury of a heritage hotel. “Domestic tourists are more interested in big cities where they get more facilities than in rural areas. To attract them, one will have to popularize the local crafts along with discounted packages on weekends and holidays. We are also adding more leisure activities in our hotels to attract the weekend traveller.” Deepak Ohri concludes, “Once again, the rising aspirations of the young-at-heart, upwardly mobile urban High Net Worth

RANDHIR VIKRAM SINGH

JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, HOTEL CASTLE MANDHAWA

Most of the family members of heritage hotels have involved themselves in the various departments of the hotel to reduce the cost. Locally hired staff is trained to do the day to day work and maintain standards in the present scenario.

Individuals (HNIs) in India is a fine factor for domestic guests who have ta ken a li k i ng to lifestyle experiences, and the opportunities lie in enhancing their spending at our properties by f u r t her elaborat i ng ou r engagement with them. Foreign tourist numbers will increase with the improved buying power of the Dollar, Pound and Euro. Inbound for the first half of the year has been sluggish, but we are expecting a rise from October onwards.”■ by VARALIKA VIJ

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 19


TRENDS

When a hotel is trying to stand out in the luxury market, every little detail matters – including the brand of its toiletries. With guests more discerning than ever, toiletries are more than just treats to add in the hotel bathrooms and spas. Instead, they are able to reflect your brand promise, worthy of serious investment. Hotelscapes talks to a few of those who greatly acknowledge the importance of personal inroom amenities.

Best in-room treats

luxury toiletries

A

guest enters his hotel room w ith much a nt i c i p at io n , a nd whether he says it or not, does render a critical glance to the toiletries stacked up in the washroom almost immediately. With the best of brands like Bulgari, Kama Ayurveda, Forest Essentials, H2O and Kiehl’s supplying their amenities to hotels, there is, what we may call, a breakdown of the finest skincare products in the best of hotels. The fancier, the better!

Hotel chains are upgrading their toiletry lines like never before, for a better product can boost customer perceptions – and perhaps even room rates. We asked whether it can even make a guest switch a hotel and got varying view points. Says Garima Nagpal, Executive

Housekeeper, The Imperial, New Delhi, “A deluxe range of toiletry products definitely impinges on the hotel image…it denotes a sense of luxury and personal gratification and is definitely a big factor in guest perceptions. It may not cause a guest to switch a hotel but affects customer loyalty to a large extent. This is apparent here at The Imperial, where gift sets of our toiletries are one of the items which have a large volume of a sales at our in house boutique.” As Ashwani Goela, Executive A s si st a nt Ma nager Room s, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okhla says rightly, “It’s the little things that can make the biggest impact on a stay, from the toiletries to the gym passes to the free snacks. Many hotel-brand toiletries aren’t very good, and guests know this. They pack their own shampoo and conditioner so they

20 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

can avoid having starchy hair in the morning. When a traveller researches a hotel and notices that it carries the toiletries she knows, it’s a big help at the packing phase. After all, these are the travellers who already stock their homes with high-end products.” According to Lovey Mathews, Executive Housekeeper, Pullman Gu r gaon, “ The s e h i g h e nd toiletry products or brands offer a pampering experience to our guests. The fancier the brand the better. Upgrading to a fancier brand of toiletry line can help the hotel in boosting its appeal to travellers. This, in turn, would justify higher room rates from those guests who truly appreciate the products.” She further adds, “However, I do not feel that the brand of toiletries can really make a guest switch a hotel. But still, to be different from the

GARIMA NAGPAL

EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, THE IMPERIAL, NEW DELHI

A deluxe range of toiletry products definitely impinges on the hotel image… it denotes a sense of luxury and personal gratification and is definitely a big factor in guest perceptions.


TRENDS

ASHWANI GOELA

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT MANAGER ROOMS, CROWNE PLAZA NEW DELHI OKHLA

Products like shampoo, shower gels, slippers, are good to go. Anything with the hotel’s moniker is extra-desirable. Usually, hotels shrug off minor light-fingeredness – it’s just part of the cost of doing business.

competition hotels and to provide a holistic package to the guests, luxury hotels today are not leaving a single stone unturned to entice guests.” S u b h a n k a r, D i r e c t o r o f Rooms, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon believes that customer loyalty may change with better or worse in room skin care amenities. “There were surveys conducted and we came to a conclusion that an internationally standardized product is needed for our brand, which actually gives confidence to the guests who comes and stays with us. As we have this homogeny of products in Hyatt Regency’s all over the country now, t he fe e dback i s qu it e satisfactory” The brand name game

While majorly, the hotel chains have experimented with the best of the brands, the current trend is to have special brands made for one’s property which are exclusive and not available in the market. Subankar tells us that all brands under Hyatt used to sport its own range of toiletries at one point of time. “Over a period of time, we conducted

LOVEY MATHEWS

EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, PULLMAN GURGAON

Upgrading to a fancier brand of toiletry line can help the hotel in boosting its appeal to travellers. This, in turn, would justify higher room rates from those guests who truly appreciate the products.

a lot of surveys and got guest feedbacks, especially from loyalty programme members, and came to a conclusion that there needs to be standardization of in room bath room products all over Hyatt. And so, for Hyatt Regency in the country, we uniformly use an excellent product of the United States called Portico Spa. The product gives a very unique look to our rooms. Similarly in spas all across, we use June Jacob’s spa collection – a very popular brand, especially in South East Asian hotels. Our best feedback so far is by the single lady travellers.” He f u r t he r t e l l s u s t hat they previously had different s t a nda r d s of a me n it ie s for different room categories, but now they have alleviated that, because majority of guests are actually using the standard rooms. “We have previously used brands like Forest Essentials across many Hyatt hotels, Kama Ayurveda was used in our luxury suites, and brands like H2O and Bulgari were also introduced. The stock and cost becomes a difficult task for us to maintain.” “The Crowne Plaza is stocking its guest bathrooms with highend Amatrra toiletries, a line

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 21


TRENDS

SUBHANKAR

DIRECTOR OF ROOMS, HYATT REGENCY GURGAON

Customer loyalty may change with better or worse in room skin care amenities There are hotels within Hyatt known as ‘Lab’ hotels, where feedback on the quality of products is specifically taken by certain guests.

t y p ic a l ly fou nd at up s c a le department stores. While the range of toiletries remains the same, hotel Club Floor guests can anticipate early check-in and late checkout, rooms with extra amenities, and much more. Over the years, our hotel has been using toiletries specially designed for our brand in this region,” informs Ashwani Goela. The Imperial has introduced the Bulgari range for their suites while the regular rooms have the Fragonard range, [a French compa ny] .  The scents a nd fragrances placed at the spas are specially developed for use and are now available under the Sufi range, the hotel’s own label.

Says Garima Nagpal, “Our hotels traditionally have used HLL products over the years and gradually shifted to better known a nd upma rket bra nd s, l i ke Molten Brown and L’ occitane.” Archana Gupta, Executive H o u s e k e e p e r, T h e We s t i n Gurgaon informs – “Our range of toiletries remains the same since the property’s inception in 2010. The bathroom amenities we offer are the same across the spa and all room categories. This is a conscious decision, again in conjunction with our Bra nd Gu idel i nes. We have used ‘Woleco’ as a brand for our bathroom amenities. Most of our bathroom amenities are found on the vanity counter, barring the shampoo and conditioner, which are placed alongside the bathtub. These amenities are not placed in any special or specific fashion, as we strongly believe in clutter free spaces and simple designs.” “We are looking at introducing a new line of products- ‘Aroma T h e r a p y A s s o c i a t e s’ – f o r treatments at The Heavenly Spa by Westin, “ she adds. How do they choose?

Just like food, there are several experimentations, trials and considerations that go i nto choosi ng the products that wou ld f i na l ly be use d by the luxury hotel’s esteemed guest. Ashwani verifies – “We realized that guests don’t want to use u n fa m i l ia r products with unk nown ingredients. We often like to choose unisex lines that have a fresh citrus or barely detectable fragrance which allows one to surrender to peace.” Subankar notifies that they have i n house ex per ts who actually use these products, and get feedbacks collectively on whether or not the quality has been maintained by the toiletry brand. There are hotels within

22 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

Hyatt known as ‘Lab’ hotels, where feedback on the quality of products is specifically taken by certain guests. It’s also necessary to make sure that there is a local branch or subsidia ry of the international products we use, because refilling and reordering becomes much more expensive and difficult.” According to Garima Nagpal, the brand image, its quality and guest feedbacks are a few considerations before choosing a particular toiletry brand for a hotel. “Its availability and logistics may also be important factors.” If you want it stolen, put your logo on it

This is not what we say! As Ashwani Goela puts it ver y casua l ly – “Products l i ke shampoo, shower gels, slippers, are good to go. Anything with the hotel’s moniker is extra-desirable. Usually, hotels shrug off minor light-fingeredness – it’s just part of the cost of doing business. The truth is that we like our guests to take our grooming products and paper goods home, the thinking being that every time you use an item that bears the hotel’s name you’ll remember what a wonderful time you had there and plan another visit soon!” Subankar also thinks of it as a good marketing tool. “If a particular product is carried home a lot, the practice is not something the hotels would like to keep happening. However, that also helps us in identifying that a product is being liked by the guest a lot. It’s a positive indication. Even the brands who are introducing their products in the hotels are also keeping this thing in their minds.” Archana Gupta clarifies that it is mostly the leisure travellers who tend to take hotel bathroom amenities back with them, which has more to do with the fact that

ARCHANA GUPTA EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, THE WESTIN GURGAON

Service offered and exceeding guest expectations are the driving forces behind brand preferences. While a better toiletry product can enhance a guest’s experience, it cannot change a guest’s preference for a hotel itself.

it serves as a hotel souvenir. “Most business travelers today carry their own toiletries, as they have their own preferences, which they do not wish to change on every trip they make.” While personalization of toiletries might be too demanding of a guest to ask for, for it might mean that the hotels have to create a super market of variety, a guest today has no dearth of cherished lotions and potions at upmarket hotels. Of course, there’s a lot more to it like eco-friendly packaging and packaging according to the bathroom and spa décor. As they say, there’s no end to luxury. ■ by VARALIKA VIJ


SPA SPECIAL

Realizing and strengthening the potential of the

Indian spa industry

The ancient knowledge of Ayurveda and Yoga, the sheer size of the population and the economic growth of the country makes India one of the fastest growing markets for medical and wellness tourism. For the Western world, India is synonymous with meditation, natural therapies and holistic wellness and this makes it an attractive and alluring destination to seek out therapeutic and wellness treatments. On the occasion of the 7th edition of the Growth of Spa and Wellness Industry, Hotelscapes talks with Sallie Fraenkel, Executive Vice President, Global Spa & Wellness Summit on the potential and challenges of this industry in India and how the summit hopes to galvanize its growth. Why bring the summit to India? India is one of the fastest-growing modern spa and wellness markets in the world and a thought-leader in the emerging travel category of wellness tourism, which has explosive potential for our industry. Because wellness and wellness tourism are so vital to the growth of our industry, India was the natural choice for the 2013 Summit. As the birthplace of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, it is one of the world’s true wellness Meccas and an ideal place to explore its ancient roots. We knew India would be the perfect place for delegates from around the world to understand their country’s own opportunities and explore where we have been and where we are headed. We are grateful to India’s ministry of tourism, which was instrumental in bringing the summit to India.

SALLIE FRAENKEL

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL SPA & WELLNESS SUMMIT

New spas Marry Indian and Western therapies together: Ayurveda and Swedish massage.

24 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

What do you feel are the benefits or attractions of spa treatments specifically in India – in terms of general and medicinal advantages? India is the birthplace of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda and these are the key, sought-after aspects of the ‘spa and wellness’ experience for visitors to India – in addition to

traditional and global treatments li ke massages. As a m illion more people embrace alternative therapies worldwide, more people are also demanding the medical/ scientif ic evidence behind spa/ wellness modalities. And the medical evidence behind yoga, meditation and massage just continues to grow.

Your report states that the spa industry is ‘fuelled by inbound travellers and wellness tourism’. What are these travellers coming to India specifically for? Reports from research firms such as PWC or Euromonitor show that the Indian spa industry is growing t o d ay b e c au s e o f a b a l a n c e d bl e nd o f d o m e s t ic c o n s u m e r s and inbound travellers. Actually, I nd ia n consu mers a re d r iv i ng spa industry growth even more powerfully than tourists. More people are travelling (and want to travel) to India, because the country intersects powerfully with several macro travel trends globally. Global travellers are increasingly seeking super-authentic, indigenous (rather than generic, could-be-anywhere) experiences. They want to get off the beaten path and explore new cultures.


Ananda in the Himalayas

As a result of st ress a nd chronic disease epidemic, more travellers are redefining what they want from their leisure/ business travel and are seeking healthy travel or, in tourism industry parlance, wellness tourism. So more people, naturally, want to visit India because it’s perceived worldwide as the true “spiritual home” of the modern wellness movement – and has a powerful, positive “wellness halo”. Other rising travel trends like “adventure travel” and “spiritual travel” (which are all really subsets of wellness tourism) are also putting India on more people’s travel itineraries. It may be ha rd for some I nd ia ns to d igest the sheer magnitude of the yoga, meditation and “detox” wave in the “West.” Take yoga: 20 million+ Americans and more than a quarter of a billion people worldwide now practice it. That’s a global “Yoga Nation” that’s as big as the populations of the UK, France, Germany and Italy put together. It’s only logical that this is leading to a ramped-up desire to make a pilgrimage to India to immerse themselves in

their daily passion and wellness regime – at the source.

To what extent are their expectations met with? So, more people are travelling to I nd ia to be i m mersed i n wellness experiences. I think their expectations have never been so well-met with. Famed Ayurvedic players like Ananda in the Himalayas and Soukya have attracted international guests for years – and show how just a few world-class properties ca n put a whole nat ion on travellers’ maps. But now there are many new, luxe Indian spa/ wellness resorts. For example, Banyan Tree Spa Kerala houses the bra nd’s f i rst doctor-led Ayurvedic Centre. Indian hotel brand Taj is busy opening Jiva Grande spas at properties like Taj Madikeri with elaborate, “pu r i st ” Ay u r ve d ic menus. Bangalore-based hospitality group Windflower Resorts & Spa is opening projects like its highend Kasaragod property for those seeking Ayurvedic medicine in a spa environment. And the all-new Vana will op en i n December, 2013, a s t u n n i ng 21- ac r e wel l ne s s

and Ayurvedic destination set in the Himalayan forest. With Vana’s team of doctors, 7-, 14and 21-day Panchakarma detox programs and rich spa menu, it’s poised to quickly become not only the most talked about new star in the Ayurvedic world, but also one of the most talked about destination spa properties in the world.

In your findings, how and to what extent can the spa industry promote tourism in this country? First, the opportunities for the Indian spa industry/spa tourism are some of the most promising of any in the world. When one looks at how spa industries have developed in different nations, it is clear that India is just at the beginning of the growth curve. The spa industry needs to c o m mu n ic at e a nd p a r t ne r with the Ministry of Tourism and tourism organizations, to get their message out to the world. And India is putting a strong emphasis on wellness/ spa tourism now, and it is a very smart strategy in inspiring both domestic residents and foreign travellers. For instance,

the Incredible India! campaign s p ot l ig ht e d s pa /wel l ne s s very successfully. And Dr. K. Chiranjeevi, Minister of State for Tourism, is ramping up wellness tourism efforts - and will speak at the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, welcoming ministers of tourism worldwide, and showing them what India is doing right in the new wellness tourism space. Foregrounding health, wellness, spa and spirituality casts a very positive “halo” over a broader tourism campaign, and for India, with its rich, natural wellness resources; it’s a “no brainer.” It is also important that India invests in medical tourism as well as wellness tourism but keeps the segments distinct and separate. This separation of campaigns really makes India a progressive standout – and they are probably the first nation to do this. So many countries use the terms interchangeably and muddle their definitions and campaigns and it confuses the global consumer. India knows that a wellness tourist is often a high-yield tourist, and highly desirable to attract because of the amount of revenue they will spend in the country.

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 25


SPA SPECIAL The support that the Indian government is putting behind wellness/spa tourism is a great start. And they could further help grow the spa industry by aggregating and promoting diverse, individual spa establishments, both online and through collaterals. Switzerland is a good model here: their spa resorts are heavily promoted by many tourism bodies and that would be a smart move for India as well. Trumpeting India’s bestk n ow n h e a l i n g t r a d i t i o n s (Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga) will help the industry flourish. And the government could also invest in preserving these ancient healing traditions, possibly helping seed spa management education programs in universities, etc. And promoting the robust medical evidence for core offerings like yoga and meditation would be smart: nothi ng sells better tha n objective science. India is a very big nation, and Kerala is an excellent example of what can be done to effectively brand an area of the country with a specific health and wellness “message.” For instance, Kerala labelled itself as the “cradle of Ayurveda” – when it wasn’t really a “birthplace,” but an area rich in Ayurvedic destinations – pure genius. Because India has so much wellness diversity, it would probably be smart for other states/regions to focus on a particular element of health and wellness that could become their “province.”

What kind of challenges is the Indian Spa industry dealing with and how can we tackle these? One of the biggest challenges for the Indian spa industry is a shortage of trained, skilled therapists and managers. Better designed spa education training programs/schools are needed.

Soukya Holistic Health Centre, Bengaluru

A d d it i o n a l ly p r o m o t i n g standards and practices – and creating licensing or certification for spa/massage therapists – is ultimately needed. Government has to play a role here, and the Indian government has begun certifying spas and while that is a noble effort, it can be a very slow and arduous process. So I offer a word of caution: many governments begin by establishing regulations for the spa/wellness industry and then stringently enforcing them, under the belief that this will help their industry grow. To only promote those spas that are certified can slow down growth and even cause division. I think governments should support industry training and education - i nvest i ng i n h ig h- qua l it y education for people that could fill future jobs – and at the same time support the sector in general by encouraging transparency, perhaps through user reviews t hat wou ld showca s e more establishments and options to the consumer. As noted below, a nother challenge for the Indian spa industry is that it sort of has to wear “two hats.” Western tourists want authentic, ancient Indian healing traditions. For

26 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

instance, those millions and millions of people outside India/ Asia who do yoga want to be immersed in a real experience when they travel to India. But m o d e r n , yo u n g e r I n d i a n s understandably seek new, more “international” styles of spas and products. And, in general, I don’t see the new Indian consumer get t i ng ove r - exc it e d ab out things they’re grandparents did, especially when served up at high prices in western hotel and resort settings. So, the Indian spa, hotel and wellness industry has to offer both and strike a balance: provide the authenticity for inbound tourists and the “we s t e r n- s t yle” mo de r n it y that Indians now seek. There is plenty of room for both! You can see that quest for balance being played out in new spas that marry Indian and Western therapies together: Ayurveda and Swedish massage.

What does the Summit hope to achieve? In general, I think what we want to achieve is summed up by the 2013 conference theme, “A D e f i n i n g Mo m e nt .” We selected “A Defining Moment” as the theme for this year’s Summit for several reasons.

One, because it is clear that the global spa/wellness industry is heading into a new, “defining moment” now with many new business models and directions underway. There are so many new markets, new challenges and new opportunities. And the agenda will let delegates really dive into them. With the inaugural Global Wellness Tourism Congress on Day One, we aim to define and quantify the size and impact of the wellness tourism industry – and we want to give ministers of tourism and private sector stakeholders that attend the ideas they need to come out in front of this wellness tourism curve, and take an early, profitable lead. In short, we want to put this emerging travel category on the map for governments, the private sector and consumers. The six Global Forums on key industry sectors are an important new addition: on destination spas, hotel spas, mineral springs, hydrothermal, spa retail, spa education and corporate social responsibility. These sub-sectors of the wider spa/wellness industry, of course, have their own special “hot topics,” and these forums will represent the first time that global leaders from these individual


sectors will gather together to strategize on how best to solve their biggest challenges and capitalize on their biggest opportunities ahead. We want delegates to take in a lot of provocative new ideas and practical knowledge to guide and grow their business. We want industry executives to fully appreciate India’s rich, incredible wellness traditions and leadership in spa and wellness. And, as anyone who has attended a Summit knows, it’s a very different experience than the usual “conference.” From the creative agenda, to the group problem solving, to the social and business networking – to the magical gala events – we want the Summit to be “a defining moment” for delegates. We want the experience to be a “defining moment” not only professionally, but also personally…emotionally.

What kinds of discussions are planned for during the course of the Summit? The theme of the 2013 Summit is “A Defining Moment”, and participants will experience two-and-one half days packed with top-level keynote speakers, panels, presentations and workshops, all designed to move the industry and attendees in new directions. Each year the Summit presents a high-profile speaker line-up, and 2013 will be no exception. For instance, the Summit will open with an upto-the-minute overview of global “big picture” trends from Thierry Malleret, an important global strategist and economist, which will set the stage for high-level education/discussions. And plenty of “pure inspiration” is on the table as well: for example, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the world’s most popular spiritual leaders, is sure to enlighten delegates with his keynote. Attendees will also learn about the powerful impact that South Asian wellness and healing traditions have had historically around the world, and also the opportunities opening up across this dramatically growing region. On this we’ll hear from the VIPs of the Indian hospitality and tourism space, like Raymond Bickson, MD & CEO, Taj Hotels & Resorts; Vikram Oberoi, COO and Joint MD of EIH Limited, the flagship company of The Oberoi Group; and Analjit Singh, Chairman and MD, Max India Limited. This year the Summit will host its first ever Global Wellness Tourism Congress. While more attention has been paid to medical

tourism worldwide, the most recent research shows that wellness tourism is already twice as big a market as medical tourism(US$106 billion versus US$50 billion*).This Congress will be the first time that an agenda will be focused squarely on global wellness tourism opportunities: from defining and sizing the segment to identifying the best strategies that can help governments and private sector stakeholders further grow this packed-withpotential travel category. The Congress was created because the time is now for our industry to define – and for more countries to start developing – wellness tourism. Our goal: that the ideas and research that come out of this “thinktank” will reverberate with governments, media, and ultimately, consumers, and that wellness tourism will be officially recognized by organizations like the World Travel Organization and World Travel & Tourism Council. In addition helping consumers and the media learn about this exciting travel category will no doubt increase participation. The Congress will also feature a rich line-up of tourism experts, like Jean-Claude Baumgarten, former president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). And it will be the first time that ministries of tourism from thirty nations (welcomed by Dr. K. Chiranjeevi, minister of state for tourism, India) are invited to share their current, best strategies and future plans for attracting more leisure and business wellness travellers. SRI International’s new research report, the first to analyze the financial impact of the wellness tourism economy, will also be presented. *SRI International, 2010

How will the Indian industry stand to benefit from this summit? The 2013 Summit will receive worldwide attention from the media, the industry and business leaders. Holding the GSWS in India authenticates its position as a leader in spa and wellness and spotlights its rich and authentic traditions. Anyone who has attended a previous Summit can also attest to how important relationship-building is to the experience. The Summit is about facilitating and strengthening relationships between the leading executives, ministers and visionaries from around the world. Delegates from India will take centre stage at this prestigious event. ■ as told to PRIYAANKA BERRY

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 27


SPA SPECIAL Spa, Hyatt Regency Delhi

The challenges of the Delhi/NCR spa hotel industry ASEEM KAPOOR GENERAL MANAGER, HYATT REGENCY DELHI

Shortage of manpower is a common problem faced by the entire spa business and fresh hiring is always a challenge.

 With the spa industry booming, an increasing number of hotels are aiming to create good spa facilities in house, an experience that is highly sought after by both business and leisure travellers. In today’s competitive market, with several unbranded and branded spas opening shop in Delhi, we ask Delhi hotels on what they find to be the single biggest challenge in running a spa in the city and in what ways do they plan to overcome the hurdle.  Trained Manpower

With the rapidly escalating number of standalone spas in the city, the demand for trained professionals is on the rise. As a result, a predominant factor emerging is the lack of skilled and trained staff available. In addition, the attrition rate is also high and hotel spas are challenged to retain personnel.  “The paucity of skilled and talented manpower across all levels is increasingly becoming

28 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

a challenge and needs to be addressed by the spa industry at large. Moreover, the rapid increase in spa supply in some areas is responsible for a reduction in the quality of service due to lack of professional management”, explains Aseem Kapoor, GM, Hyatt Regency Delhi. Reinforcing the challenge of manpower, Vishvapreet Cheema, GM, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi adds, “It is difficult to find

knowledgeable and skilled staff due to a lack of accredited training institutes. On top of that it is a challenge to retain staff as there is shortage everywhere and poaching is common in the industry”. “There is no focus on training when hiring the talent for this specialised service. Since there is only a niche segment of users that utilize this service still, there is shortage of skilled specialists in this industry”, adds Sanjay


SPA SPECIAL of trained staff is an industry issue and some initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Tourism to address the problems. For instance, NABH, an autonomous board under Quality Council of India, is creating benchmark practices and opening of spa training institutes is on top of their ‘To-Do’ list”. Creating the correct understanding of the spa industry

Spa, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi

VISHVAPREET CHEEMA GENERAL MANAGER, RADISSON BLU PLAZA DELHI

We find it challenging to retain our staff as there is shortage everywhere and poaching is common in the industry.

Sharma, Complex GM The Westin Gurgaon and The Westin Sohna. A not her rea son, b e side s lack of training facilities is the perception and image attached to working in the spa industry. Jagan Lacsher, GM, Pullman Gurgaon, explains, “It is difficult to find local spa staff who is willing to join because of the rise of many illicit spas and the emerging perception that this industry is not a right place to work. Due to this, a lot of spas are left to alternatively employ illegal foreign personnel”. So how a re t he s e hot el s tackling this? A few take to training and developing talent themselves. For instance, “We often initiate training both internal and through crossexposure experience in other cities and sometimes through international training. Due to our worldwide presence as a brand that today has been in India for 30 years, international training is now easier for us to arrange”, explains Kapoor. Much of the staff at Club Olympus Spa & Fitness who complete their

preliminary training as per the Hyatt standards is recommended for international training. As a nd when t he opp or t u n it y arises, they send their staff to get trained in various international lo c at io n s i n o r d e r t o ga i n experience and exposure in other countries. While their focus is to nurture and train their own staff when it comes to internal promotions, they too face the challenge of filling in additional staff requirements. “Shortage of ma np owe r i s a c om mon problem faced by the entire spa business and fresh hiring is always a challenge”, says Kapoor. Similarly, at the Heavenly Spa by Westin for both Gurgaon and Sohna their major focus is on advancing skills of professionals. Work ing in thei r favou r, explains Cheema is the fact that R The Spa, is the only hotel spa in the country to have won an accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare which in turn makes it a highly attractive career option among spa professionals in Delhi NCR. He also adds that “lack

Lacsher adds another dimension to the challenges of the spa industry. He explains that once, the luxuries of spa treatments were preserved on the privileged and elite class. However, today it has become more customer-oriented and that is why, the volume is also increasing by double folds. He adds, “In

SANJAY SHARMA COMPLEX GM, THE WESTIN GURGAON, NEW DELHI AND THE WESTIN SOHNA RESORT AND SPA

It is important to create apparent market segmentation for different players.

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 29


SPA SPECIAL

Moghul suite for couples, The Imperial

JAGAN LACSHER GENERAL MANAGER, PULLMAN GURGAON CENTRAL PARK

All spas must adhere to brand standards, permits and conventional values, irrespective of the market competition, to maintain professionalism.

Heavenly Spa by Westin

the face of universal economic slowdown and uncertainties, more people around the world prefer to cut down on their travel expense and get involved in more leisurely activities like a pampering and relaxing spa therapy”. As a result there are a few major concerns which are adversely affecting the name and values of the Spa Industry. “Several unbranded and low priced spas are mushrooming vigorously which are degrading the authenticity of traditional and branded spas. The perception that every spa is running ‘shady’ business activities, has surpassed the dependability of ‘clean’ spas existing in the market. And now, we are facing an uphill task in trying to regain the same acknowledgement and recognition it deserves”, explains Lacsher. To tackle this head on, he advocates that all spas must adhere to the brand standards, legitimacy, permits, location and conventional values, irrespective of t he ma rket comp et it ion, to ma i nta i n a h igh level of professionalism. “All spas must

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hire spa professionals who have acquired necessary training certificates required in this field and have a policy and procedure in place rega rding sexual ha rassment wh ich i ncludes among staff members as well as by guests. Government should guard against the spas which are involved in fraudulent activities through some stringent laws”, says Lacsher. In addition to the image, people have to be educated regarding the wellness aspect of spas.  Sharma feels that “often t he t er m spa i s ver y much restricted to a standard massage. Guests do not understand the difference between a standard massage and a spa experience that can enhance overall wellbeing. It becomes difficult to create a market differentiation in the cluttered market”. While the spa market is at a nascent stage in India, through training it is vital to enhance and create distinction. “It is vastly similar to when the hotels started, at first they were just a

J TARA HERRON DIRECTOR, THE IMPERIAL SPA, SALON HEALTH AND RACQUET CLUB

We work to ensure that our guests are aware of our services, find them appealing and can afford to enjoy our exclusive hotel spa.


SPA SPECIAL place for guests to halt. Educating the guests on classification of categories was a culture that was built over time not just in India but globally. Similarly it’s important for industry players to come together and educate the masses on how important and relevant spas are for today’s fast paced life, says Sharma. Attracting In-house guests

J Tara Herron, Director, The Imperial Spa, adds that as a hotel spa it is vital to market and attract inhouse residents, especially since The Imperial Spa is open only to hotel residents. She explains that due to this factor, spa footfall fluctuates with the hotel’s seasonal business. “Our challenge is to be sensitive to the type of guests that fall into the seasonal hotel business.  We work on a variety

of strategies to ensure that our guests, at any time of year, are aware of our services, find them appealing and can afford to enjoy this exclusive hotel facility.  This is planned accordingly and projected into the budget which balances our revenue as much as possible”, says Herron. To ensure this, the Spa offers discounted rates and spa packages that appeal to the younger and more economy conscious guests during the summer months, when flying to India and room rates throughout the country are discounted. “For Spa seekers and those interested in health and well-being as a predominant feature of their travels, our website markets special residential spa breaks that include a treatment or two with a health consultation”. To attract more male guests

Herron also believes in defining the male spa market by using language that resonates with the male mind, as once men overcome the idea that a spa experience is not just about indulgence but more about stress management, they become very loyal clients.  The spa industry is India is only just taking off. Efforts need to be made to organize and regulate this sector particularly now that the unbranded segment is rapidly growing. Standards r e ga r d i n g cl e a n l i ne s s a nd professionalism must be spelt out and made transparent. In order to address the issue of shortage of skill professionals efforts should be taken up to set up training institutes and centres that can support to glowing wellness industry in the country. ■ by PRIYAANKA BERRY

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 31


GUEST COLUMN

Guarding against food spoilage and wastage When the Green Revolution in the 1960s turned India into a foodsurplus country from being a food-deficit one, the development of infrastructure for storage and transportation had not developed as much as it has today. Minimizing wastage at all stages in the food supply and processing chain still needs more consideration.

ANIL BHANDARI CHAIRMAN, AB SMART CONCEPTS

F

oodgrain production galloped from 108 metric tonnes (MT) in 1970-71 to 130 MT in 1980-81 to 176 MT in 1990-91 and finally reached 245 MT in 2010-11. The percentage of wastage also kept pace resulting in loss of revenue and precious foodstuff. (Source: Planning Commission Report). The proverb ‘Waste not, want not’ would be relevant here. Steps need to be taken to limit wastage in the agricultural sector. Besides creating proper storage facilities nationwide in the vicinity of agricultural regions the other ways to cut down wastage of food grains, vegetables and other farm-grown products are construction of cold storage chains for perishables; use of refrigerated trucks for rapid transportation of produce from the farmers to the vendors; developing food processing industries close to agricultural areas for better utilization of the farm produce; and providing education and guidance to farmers on the choice of crop and the acreage they should assign to it. The issue of spoi lage a nd wastage exists in the hospitality industry as well. It could be in the form of storage, purchase of overpriced and stale foodstuffs, having non-standardized portions, and cooking more food than is necessary leading to leftovers. The Pre-Cost Pre-control System of Food Accounting is a tool

designed to make use of modern merchandizing practices in the restaurant field. Known as ‘PreControl’ in short, it is necessary to have operational basic controls prior to preparing the foundation for Pre-Cost Pre-Control System of Food Accounting. These basic controls are competitive purchasing; receiving checks by quality, weight and quantity; requisition control over the store room; proper sales check storage and distribution, along with effective checking, cashiering, and proving of food register readings. For Pre-Control to be used as an effective instrument, it requires the coordination of the management, the executive chef, steward, maitre d’ hotel, head checker and

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the food cost accountant. This is because there are diverse aspects to be taken into account. When Pre-Control is properly utilized it provides beneficial results. It promotes efficiency, provides sound sales data, coordinates purchasing and preparation, helps resolve merchandising problems in the menu structure and reduces over-preparation of food which results in leftovers. As an education for the chef that the right quantity of food is cooked the leftovers of a buffet of a banquet; breakfast, lunch and dinner; live kitchen; or of a wedding party should be weighed and recorded. The statement of the extra amount of food cooked should be sent by the F & B con-

troller to the executive chef and F&B manager who will point out to the chef about the extra food that was cooked. Of the leftovers, some of it is re-utilized, sent to the staff canteen or used to prepare stock. This is also a loss as the leftovers need to be refrigerated resulting in extra cost of power consumption and manpower costs. A foolproof system for food control should comprise the following: Purchasing Control The quality of the food should be the best possible available and at the lowest available price, except when special considerations dictate otherwise in certain situations, for the quality and form. It should also be ascertained that the


GUEST COLUMN foodstuff received is in accordance with the established specifications. Receiving Controls Where standard purchase specif ications a re used one of the functions of the receiving clerk is to check all incoming supplies against the applicable purchase specifications. He should also, along with the chef or steward, inspect whether the merchandise is of acceptable standards and then label all perishable items to indicate the date of receiving them as well as the weight of the foodstuff, especially in the case of meat and poultry items for which a meat-tag register should be maintained. The register should list the i) Serial number of the meat-tag ii) Date received iii) Type of cut iv) Weight v) Price per kilogram vi) Date issued. The details on the meat-record labels will ensure the FIFO, or ‘First In First Out’ rule, and prevent spoilage. A Receiving Sheet is a compilation of a daily report of merchandise received and lists all the purchases made for items of daily use and of those for later use in separate sheets. The list of daily purchases is sent to the kitchen while that of the stock purchases is sent to the store room for subsequent use. The Receiving Sheet helps in crosschecking the merchandise for inventory and storage purposes. Storing Controls A systemised procedure to guard against pilferage and to prevent spoilage, storing controls and strict inventory control measures ensure that the merchandise, especially perishables, are not wasted or spoilt. Internal Spoilage is generally caused by long periods of storage, improper ventilation or inappropriate temperatures. External Spoilage may be due to pests, rats, broken containers, defective refrigeration. Issuing Controls Food stock should not be issued

from the store room without a properly executed requisition. The requisition must contain a list of all food items and their quantity and the signature of the person authorized to request such merchandise. Requisitions are ‘food cheques’ and are crucial in reconciliation of inventories and consumption. In the calculation of operational costs for any length of time the consumption of food items can be determined by the following formula: Consumption = Purchases + Opening Inventory – Closing Inventory In actual practice, shrinkage and spoilage will create discrepancies. If the discrepancies exceed 1% of the total amount of the stocks issued for a particular period, pilferage or careless procedures are responsible. Production Controls Pre-preparation and portioning are the basic processing of foodstuffs prior to preparation and actual cooking. Peeling vegetables, trimming meat, cutting steaks are examples. Negligence, lack of skill or failure to maintain established standards can lead to substantial excess cost. For instance, consider the sum total of the wastage if a potato is peeled inattentively or if Seekh Kebabs weighing 60 grams each are prepared when the standard weight should be 50 grams. Over a period of time a 10 gram increase per Seekh Kebab can prove to be major wastage. Food production controls are specific procedures governing the preparation of food to reduce wastage and eliminate inequalities in portions. The three basic phases in production control are Planned Preparation, Standard Recipes and Standard Portion Sizes. If a restaurant is to serve a consistent product at an acceptable cost it must carry out control over its food preparation. Production control is an extension of modern

manufacturing methods into the restaurant area. These methods include the quantity of material to be used, how many kilograms / grams of the ingredients went into which recipe to prepare a product, and the standard size of the products which are offered for sale. If an individual chef is given the liberty to follow his own method of preparation and use of ingredients the patrons will realize the difference in appearance, taste, acceptability and cost. Planned Preparation includes the production sheet which is a summary of instructions to the chefs indicating the quantity to be produced and other special instructions; a standard recipe ensures consistency in taste and appearance besides providing advance calculation of the cost per portion. Use of standard recipes helps in maintaining standards of quality, material management and the cost factor. Standardized recipes specify the names and weights of the ingredients to be used which helps prevent wastage. Standard cooking procedures are necessary for production of palatable food, with consistency in portion and to minimize weight loss during the cooking process. Standard Portion Sizes must be established for all items prepared in bulk and later divided into individual portions. These include roasts, soups, stews, salads and ice creams. A standard portion chart must be prepared for reference. A ga rnish enhances the appearance of food and excessive garnishing could increase costs significantly in the case of a restaurant with a good daily turnover. Standard garniture charts for individual food items should be incorporated into the standard portion size chart for ready reference. Another important factor in adherence to standard portion sizes is patron satisfaction. Despite assured standardized service to all

patrons regardless of any personal factors. It would annoy a patron to see another patron being served a larger portion of a dish compared to what he has been served. To reduce avoidable food spoilage and wastage and for better financial returns, controls have to be implemented, practiced and recalibrated. These include: * Check requirements for provision of foodstuff on a DAILY BASIS * Guarantee PROPER STORAGE of foodstuff to keep it fresh * Ensure AUDITING of refrigerated foodstuff * Launch AWA R E N ESS CA MPAIGNS to prevent avoidable food wastage * Plan the menu after conducting a survey of CLIENTS’ PREFERENCES * Establish routines for RIGHT SERVING PORTIONS * Record on a daily basis the WASTAGE, the weight of all the raw and cooked food separately which is disposed of in the dustbins. * FIX TARGETS AND PROTOCOLS to reduce avoidable food wastage A recent study by the Indian Institute of Public Administration of the wastage of food during social gatherings in the National Capital Region, Delhi, showed that rising economic prosperity led to people indulging in extravagance during social events. People did not mind throwing away food, but the menu had to be extensive as a shortage would affect their social status. A su r vey on t he cr i m i na l wastage of food during Indian we dd i ng s i n or de r t o c r e at e awareness and sensitize the public not to waste food was conducted in Bengaluru. After surveying 75 of Bengaluru’s 531 marriage halls over a period of six months the team of 10 professors from the University of Agricultural Sciences came to the conclusion that “About 84,960 marriages are held at 531 marriage halls in Bangalore every year. About 943 tonnes of highcalorie quality food, enough to feed 2.6 crore. ■

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HUMAN RESOURCES

Doing more with less: an HR’s perspective

Hiring adequate and skilled talent is one of the primary expenses in running an enterprise. The main criterion that justifies this cost is the quality of expertise, ability to learn quickly and effectively multi-task different roles that the worker brings to the organization. In an increasingly expensive scenario, ‘Doing More with Less’ is taking importance, as companies are trying to better manage and utilize their employees. We meet with Ashwin Shirali, Regional Director of Human Recourses, Accor Hotels, India to know an HR’s perspective. His mantra is clear – focus more on quality rather than on quantum staff, engage the workforce intelligently in multi-tasking and outsourcing is vital to effectively achieve targets. Read on to know some tailored solutions.

A

n HR’s competence rests on achieving the maximum with minimum output. What initiative or steps do you suggest? The most important initiative of an HR is to first of all balance the equation. Ensure that the quality of people you bring in is appropriate, because you can’t

achieve more with less, if you’re used to working with a whole lot of people where the focus is on quantum rather than on quality. The kind of people you hire have to be absolutely in tune with what you want. Secondly, we need to ensure that we have a very high level of training and development, because the train-

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ing role is far more significant today than it ever was. So today is not just about acquainting people with your organization or making them feel enough about their job, but actually enhance productivity as a workplace. For instance, the worldwide economy hotel brand of the Accor group –

‘ibis’ has very limited staffing levels. One way by which we could achieve that in India was by minimizing the same complicated series of sequences that you’d have in a 5 star hotel, where typically you’ll have a mat, napkins folded in a certain manner and cutlery placed in a sure design. Now if you start


HUMAN RESOURCES crossing out on some of these a reas, l i ke hav i ng a bu f fet instead of an ala carte, (which needs more attendants) the staff can be positioned effectively. Then again, the HR’s need to actively ensure that the way in which you deliver service to your customer builds the brand DNA, so you don’t pick up anything frivolous or surplus which wastes time. Fourth area where an HR can contribute is a very strong rewards and recognition system… because more with less means that you need to motivate and enthuse employees to overcome negativity, cynicism, tiredness. Lastly, I would say that a very strong focus on your ‘key’ talent, because the attrition levels are very high in the hotel industry. So if you want to enhance productivity with minimum resources, you’ve got to hold on to your key/critical talent – people who have the ability, competence and aspiration.

Many organizations are downsizing on their staff by showing them the door. Do you see solution in such actions? How can you initiate effective cost controlling methods without laying off employees in a hotel? Laying of f employees is the best way to break the trust of your work force and the most de-motivating factor. Talking specifically about our company, although the business is getting tough everyday, I can confidently say that there hasn’t been a single person laid off in the last 5 years. There are two reasons for that – one is that our staffing levels are very scientific, and we don’t have flab in our staff. Our group has the lowest staffing per room ratio in India today – i.e. just 2. Even, for the sake of argument, supposing we

come across a situation where there are a few additional people we don’t need, re deploying recourses for alternative work is much more practical. Also, we are growing very rapidly. So, there is a huge scope for moving the people across our properties.

Let’s get to the basics of curtailing overhead costs – wastage in the kitchen, green initiatives…? I think there is a very clear focus on sustainable development activities which actually benefit our organization and are not charity. We have this concept of educating our guest on saving water by reusing their towels – and if its successful, we would be able to plant a certain number of trees per towel reused. This way, while cutting the costs, we are also fulfilling social and environmental responsibility. There is an enormous focus on energy conservation and a constant battle and need to keep revisiting our energy norms. Every hotelier has to know that he cannot control the price of fuel, but can surely reduce the consumption of units.

Outsourcing allows hotels to offload work and save on costs. There are certain functions like coaching, high volume recruiting etc. that fall out of the primary role of an HR. How do you think outsourcing of HR to handle a few activities can be a good idea? Let me start from another end of the spectrum. Human recourse management in previous days was a very transactional function. This means that it was very objective, in terms of employment norms, payment of salaries, observing certain rules and so on and so forth. With the coming times, it has evolved into a real human capital function and has now developed and reached at a

ASHWIN SHIRALI

REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RECOURSES, ACCOR HOTELS, INDIA

If you want to enhance productivity with minimum resources, you’ve got to hold on to your key talent.

very advance stage. The component of higher end HR has gone up in the recent past. Staffing levels have gone down everywhere. You don’t have the same number of people performing one function anymore. And therefore, if human recourses really has to be given its true potential, then we definitely have to move a bit of chunk out of our work, and the only way to do that is to outsource all those transactions which don’t take up any real value or add any value, are very objective, and don’t need any special qualitative approach. For example, in all our hotels, the entire payroll function is outsourced, and it saves on a lot of valuable time.

What are the roles which cannot be or should not be outsourced at all? Anything to do with capability building, whether in terms of securing very high end personnel, or in terms of creating a talent pool, motivating and employee engagement cannot be outsourced (we’re not talking about training and development, because that is something that is definitely outsourced). These are the areas where there has to be a very strong personal connection. Now, I, for example, can be a great role motivator, if I’m myself a role model for the organization. But as an outsider, trying to inspire people

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HUMAN RESOURCE just because it’s my job even when I have no emotional connect with the organization, there is no way in which I can play the role effectively. So those touchy and feely areas, where you develop emotional bonding and talent –cannot be outsourced. To take up an example, rewards and recognition can be outsourced to an extent, because it’s a very transactional area.

Does multitasking help the organization in the longer run? If it does, how can you achieve it without overburdening the employee? Engaging the employees in multitasking , the way we practice it and the way I understand it, is not that you give the employee two jobs to do, but making him/her skilled in the performance of essential aspects of two or three jobs, so that they can be rostered accordingly to do other jobs also. Secondly, even if a worker is not experienced enough for other responsibilities, he should have the skill to do it, (a big attraction for the HR’s). When we started ibis in 2008, the joke was that we don’t know our consumer and we don’t know our employee, because the concept of the first international branded economy hotel was very new. There is a lot of multitasking involved in these hotels, and there is no additional workload as such, because the service is simpler. There are lesser things in each area to do but you do the more important parts. So if a person is responsible to complete 4 activities, it’s not as if he is doing the work of 4 people but has the ability to do so, because the work has been refined and simplified to make it achievable to the work of one person.

How much time and money is spent on the training of the employees and how do you do it cost effectively? From cost point of view, there is not much. Because it’s done in-house. We have a centralised training system and we have one training manager for all systems, from hotel to hotel. This system proves to be quite cost effective and refined for us.

Advice to your fellow HR’s in the hotel industry? If you go back to the fundamentals on why HR exists – it is to build capability and competence in an organization to enable to achieve its objectives. My advice to the HR’s would be that they should be able to evaluate the architecture of the organisation in terms of

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its various functions and requirements. And at each point, question yourself on the value that you can add – either to enhance the revenues or to minimize the costs, or to take work out from the system. Accor Hotels India has been recognized amongst the top “50 Best Companies to Work” by the Great Places to Work Institute in India. A company that is recognised as a great place to work, is said to consistently beat the stock market. So in other words, you are able to get better returns for every rupee invested. By being able to brand yourself very well, try to enhance your visibility and perception as a great place to work. You’re going to get much more out of your employees in terms of what they contribute, even if your recourses are limited. So whether its in terms of how you recruit people, listen to your employees, speak to them, compensate them, train them, inspire them, care for them…these are all the touch points where human recourses has a huge role to play.

One recourse which is wasted to the maximum in the hotel industry and you think needs to be controlled? The industry has to gravitate to a level where we need to control the staffing levels (The term ‘staffing levels’ refers to having the right people in the right place at the right time). I believe that if you’re staffed right, your service sequence is right and you know exactly what you want to offer, then you are able to control your demand, and that’s where HR’s role comes since we are the keepers.

As many chain hotels are scheduled to open more properties across the country and the world, workers increasingly become geographically dispersed. Could you explain how technology can be used effectively to help them align with business demands? There are two or three ways of handling this. One is the traditional way of having annual meets, where a lot of issues are brain stormed – but that’s the most expensive way. We’ve got various platforms. For example – we’ve got our own intranet, where one can post data and there a lot of chat that happens. All updates are posted there. People can contribute their own initiatives and are always hooked up. We’re connected to our Singapore and Paris offices too through that. Travel for us is minimalistic. ■ by VARALIKA VIJ


INDUSTRY REPORT

HVS Report: Hotels in India trends & opportunities 2013

Long term prospects remain stable and positive

T

he Trends & Opportunities report, conduc ted by H VS annually, depicts and analyses the key trends in the hotel performance of the country and presents HVS’ outlook with special emphasis on 13 major Indian markets. The survey participant base has registered a significant rise since 1995/96 from 120 hotels with 18,160 rooms to a record of 717 hotels with a room count of 86,122 in 2012/13 (a majority of them being in the branded space). Table 1 . Table 8. And Table 10. Industry Performance by Major Cities Overall, Kolkata emerged as the best performing hotel market in terms of occupancy (69.5%) in 2012/13, while Mumbai (including Navi Mumbai) registered the highest average rate (Rs.7,646) and RevPAR (Rs.4,881) amongst the 13 major markets being tracked in this report. Agra, Pune, Goa and Jaipur were the only major hotel markets in the country to record notable RevPAR growths in 2012/13. There has been a surge in domestic demand, which appears to have a positive correlation with the falling rupee as taking holidays abroad have become increasingly expensive. In fact, our research reveals that the growing trend of vacations within India is visible across other major leisure markets such as Kerala and Udaipur (not being tracked individually in this report); reaffirming our belief that domestic tourism will be a driving force for the industr y going forward. Another benefit of this trend is the reduction in seasonality of these leisure markets, with domestic visitations helping narrow the gap in demand recorded during peak and lean periods. Of the 13 major markets, Pune had the highest increase in occupancy (13.0%), owing to a rise in MICE and Extended Stay demand and no notable change in supply compared to a 21% grow th in 2011/12, disproving the pessimism that had prevailed in the past two years with regard to Pune’s performance. On the other hand, NOIDA (including Greater NOIDA) witnessed the maximum decline in RevPAR (27.5%) in 2012/13 over the previous year owing to

an increase in supply and muted growth in demand. Though Gurgaon (including Manesar) also saw a RevPAR decline of 14.9% (second-highest in the country) on account of an 18.3% increase in supply, this trend, unlike NOIDA, is anticipated to be temporary, with the year-on-year demand growth expected to remain robust in this market. City Trends Agra exhibited the highest increase in RevPAR (10.3%) amongst the cities tracked in the sur vey suppor ted by grow th in both average rate (7.1%) and occupancy (3.0%). After having witnessed a 21% increase in supply in 2011/12, the city did not see the addition of any new branded hotels in 2012/13. It may be noted that the existing supply tracked for Agra in 2012/13 is lower than 2011/12 due to the removal of unbranded hotels from the sample set in light of adequate branded supply repor ting (Tables 7 and 9). The commissioning of the Yamuna E xpressway that connects Greater NOIDA to Agra (in August 2012) reducing the travel time by half (from four to two plus hours) has fuelled growth in demand for the city’s hotels. Given the improved connectivity, the city has seen a significant increase in the MICE and Individual Leisure Domestic segments especiall y from Delhi NCR. Going forward, HVS believes that Agra will witness continued growth from these segments making up for the slow pace of growth currently being seen in the Foreign Leisure segment. Furthermore, we are currently tracking a proposed supply of 866 rooms over the next few years with approximately 76% under active development. A majority of the proposed supply (88.5%) is expected in the mid market and budget space. Resultantly, we expect pressure on both occupancies and average rates in the short term. However, given the burgeoning middle class and growth of domestic travellers in the country, HVS believes that the development of mid market and budget hotels bodes well for the Agra hotel market. Moreover, the recent clearance received for the construction of a new terminal for civilian operations at Agra

38 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

airport is expected to enhance the connectivity and boost tourism for the city. Similar to last year, Ahmedabad continues to feature among the cities that witnessed one of the most aggressive increases in supply in 2012/13. On the heels of an 11% increase in supply in 2011/12, the city added an additional 25% inventory in 2012/13. Consequently, there was a 5.4% drop in occupancy this year over 2011/12. What is more noteworthy, however, is the pace of demand increase during this period, which grew by approximately 22% in 2011/12 over 2010/11, followed by a 19% increase in 2012/13 over 2011/12. Largescale events like Vibrant Gujarat and DERMACON have significantly boosted MICE demand in the city; several large weddings during the year also resulted in many city sold-out dates. With continuing commercial development along SG Highway and Prahaladnagar (now considered an alternative CBD), Commercial demand at hotels located in the area witnessed year - on-year growth. Additionally, small-to-medium sized businesses located in various pockets of the city continue to flourish and augment room night demand for hotels. Industrial clusters, (primarily Sanand), located along the periphery of Ahmedabad, are

also major demand generators for hotel accommodation. Companies such as Ford, Hitachi and Colgate Palmolive have already commenced setting up of plants and are expected to provide demand for hotels going forward. Growth in Rooms per Day (RPDs) has, however, come at the cost of average rate, which declined marginally by 1.4% in 2012/13. Going forward, the city is expected to witness an addition of approximately 1,800 new hotel rooms, of which roundly 700 are expected to commission in 2013/14. While demand growth for Ahmedabad remains strong, the impending supply in the next twoto-three years is expected to result in occupanc y and r ate pressures. Thereafter, as growth in supply eases, we expect marketwide performance to gradually improve. B e n g a lur u w i t n e s s e d a 10.7 % increase in supply in 2012/13, and yet, the city’s hotel market recorded only a marginal drop in occupancy, indicative of the strong room night demand that grew at approximately 9% in 2012/13 in comparison to 2011/12. The marketwide a v er a g e r a t e, o n t h e o t h er h a n d, decreased by 4.5% in 2012/13 owing to the entry of budget and mid market hotels, which in turn resulted in similar


INDUSTRY REPORT positioned hotels lowering their room rates and adopting a volume strategy for selling their inventory. Reaffirming our observation from last year, luxury and upscale hotels in the city continued to perform better than the mid market and budget hotels across all micromarkets (especially evident in Whitefield and CBD) owing to the latter facing stiff competition from the parallel unbranded hotel market. CBD, the best performing hotel micromarket in terms of RevPAR with the highest concentration of luxury and upscale hotels, maintained its occupancy over the previous year, though the average rate recorded a marginal decline. Whitefield, on the other hand, saw a slight increase in occupancy and a corresponding decrease in the average rate, owing to limited new supply entering this region in 2012/13. The newly formed hotel micromarkets of ORR – South and Yeshwantpur registered a growth in occupancies, with existing hotels ramping up in their second year of operations. However, the former recorded a decline in the average rate owing to the branded budget hotels focussing on volume and offering discounts to compete with the unbranded products located along this stretch. In contrast, Electronic City witnessed occupancies declining and average rates being maintained owing to an increase in supply with no marked increase in demand. Going forward, with an office space supply of around 40 million square feet anticipated to be added to the existing base of approximately 85 million square feet by 2017/18, and overall vacancy rates expected to remain well under 15%, our outlook for city’s hotel market remains bullish. ORR-South holds a lot of promise for hotel developments with infrastructure projects underway and an estimated increase in new office space absorption due to low rentals and availability of large land parcels. Furthermore, with the average length of stay being close to four-to-five nights in micro markets such as Whitefield, ORRSouth and Electronic City, the rising need for branded extended stay products is felt. Over the next five years, the city is expected to witness the highest number of new hotel rooms in the country, of which 75% is under active development. With around 4,350 rooms anticipated to enter the market in the next two years, hotels are anticipated to prioritise occupancy over rates across all micromarkets in the short-to-medium term. Moreover, we believe that the MICE segment will continue to grow with most of the newer hotels, especially in the upscale and luxury space, anticipated to feature large conferencing facilities. In 2012 /13, Chennai witnessed moderate declines in both occupancy and aver age r a te mainl y due to a double-digit growth in room supply (24.1%) as compared to 2011/12. With

respect to micromarkets, Guindy and its neighbouring areas witnessed the ma ximum drop in occupancy, with marginal decline in average rate, as the region saw an addition of around 1,000 rooms mainly in the luxury space. The micromarket of Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), popularly known as the IT corridor of the city, recorded a moderate increase in occupancy with growing absorption of office space. However, average rate remained stable as hotels faced pressure from the new properties opening in Guindy. Within CBD, upscale and luxury hotels witnessed significant pressure on occupancy and only a moderate decline in average rate. Budget and mid market hotels, on the other hand, saw small dips in both occupancy and average rate as compared to the previous year. Goin g for w ar d, w e ex p e c t t h e city to witness growth in demand in the Commercial and Ex tended Stay segments driven by the IT/ITeS sector. We also expect hotels located in the CBD and Guindy areas to continue to accommodate project-related demand from the manufacturing hubs of Oragadam, Sriperumbudur and Chennai, since these areas offer very little branded hotel rooms. Additionally, we anticipate demand to pick up in the MICE segment from 2014 as the new hotels offering large scale convention facilities establish themselves as destinations for hosting national and international conventions and events. The opening of the new domestic and international terminals at the Chennai Airport are also likely to drive demand in the Airline segment as airlines such as Air Asia set up their base there. Over the next three to five years, we expect continued pressure on both occupancy and average rates as the new hotels that opened in the latter part of 2012 become operational with their full inventories coupled with a successive annual addition of new hotels in the city and the OMR stretch. Delhi (excluding Gurgaon, NOIDA and Greater NOIDA), is the second largest hotel market in the country after Mumbai and over the past two years and has witnessed the addition of several new properties, primarily in the eastern and western par ts of the cit y. The opening of these new hotels has resulted in a bottoming out of demand for the older city centre properties (South and Central Delhi). Almost all hotels located in and around the CBD area of Delhi have witnessed a decline in RevPAR and this trend is likely to continue in the immediate short term. However, if one were to look at the overall market demand growth, RPDs actually grew by 4.7% in 2012/13 over 2011/12. Going forward, Delhi’s supply is expected to see an addition of approximately 5,200 new hotel rooms over the next five years that are now under active development. A large percentage of

these rooms (approximately 3,750) is currently under construction or ready to open in the DIAL Aerocity area. In fact, four of the 11 hotels planned in this area will be commencing operations shortly. The introduction of these hotels is expected to result in both occupancy and aver age r ate pressures in the short term. However, HVS opines that in the medium-to-long term, owing to the large-scale meeting facilities these properties will collectively offer, Aerocity is expected to become a unique destination for conventions and events in the country. Consequently, a significant quantum of MICE demand is expected to be induced into the market by these hotels. This will in turn allow for the new supply to be successfully absorbed over a period of time. Our long term outlook for Delhi, therefore, remains bullish. G u r g a o n ( i n c l u d i n g M a n e s a r) continues to be one of the strongest hotel markets in the countr y. The city, currently, features approximately 4,500 hotel rooms and over the last four years has witnessed a CAGR of 31.2% in hotel room supply (Table 7). Supply increase in 2012/13 was around 18% resulting in both occupancy and average rate dropping by 5.3% and 10.1%, respectively. While these sharp drops in market wide performance may paint an adverse picture for the city, demand in Gurgaon continues to be strong, growing by 12% in 2012/13. With currently over 40 million square feet of office stock in existence in addition to a future supply pipeline of a near similar number, Gurgaon has become a prime destination for several large business conglomerates. The city continues to attract new companies and businesses to set up shop owing to lower rentals and state-of-the-art office facilities. New development areas like Golf Course Extension Road, Southern Periphery Road and New Gurgaon (located close

to Manesar and the proposed Dwarka E x pr e s sw ay) c on t inue to w i t n e s s development of several commercial and residential projects. Going forward, there are approximately 5,000 new hotel rooms planned for development in the city of which we believe 53% will actually be commissioned. In the short term, we expect approximately 1,000 new rooms to be added to the cit y’s inventor y making fur ther occupancy and rate pressures imminent. However, in the medium to long term, increases to supply are expected to be slow paced; coupled with the continuous pace of commercial development in and around the city, our outlook for Gurgaon remains positive. NOIDA’s (including Greater NOIDA) hotel market witnessed a steep decline in RevPAR (27.5%) in 2012/13 over 2011/12, the highest amongst the markets tracked by us in this survey. This can be attributed to mainly two reasons: one, the increase in supply being tracked by HVS during the same period and two, the decline in demand from the neighbouring pockets of Ghaziabad and East Delhi owing to the opening of branded hotels in these areas as well. As highlighted in our last year’s report, NOIDA has traditionally supported a very small branded hotel base (836 rooms in 2012/13) with the inventory size with in 50-150 rooms. However, we are tracking around 1,600 rooms under active development that are anticipated to open over the next five years – an 87% increase over the existing base. This is worrying, especially because the proposed supply is expected to have an inventory in the range of 200-400 rooms, predominantly in the upscale and luxury space despite the market’s price-sensitive nature and lack of any foreseeable grow th in demand. Furthermore, it is important to highlight

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 39


INDUSTRY REPORT t h a t an addi t ion al 4,0 0 0 br ande d rooms have been signed in this market, which highlights the callous manner in which developers and operators have gone about announcing hotel projects without a correct assessment of demand potential. Consequently, hotels will have little choice but to tap the MICE segment going forward, aided by large - format events scheduled to be hosted at the Indi a E x posi t ion M ar t and Buddh International Circuit. In the short-tomedium term, we expect marketwide occupancy and average rate to remain under pressure. Goa continues to show year-on-year growth, both, in marketwide occupancy and average rates. The market’s overall RevPAR performance in 2012/13 was 4.7% higher than in 2011/12 (Table 13). Additionally, with every passing year, Goa’s dependence on the winter months and foreign tourists is increasingly being mitigated by a healthy growth in off-season demand and domestic tourists. While the season vs. of fseason variance in average rates remains significant, the standard deviation of the marketwide occupancy between the summer/monsoon and winter months i s r e du c in g. W h a t Go a c on t inu e s to lack is the availabilit y of qualit y infrastructure. Although the expansion of the Dabolim Airport is likely to be completed in a few months, plans for the new Mopa Airport are still clouded with political and bureaucratic roadblocks. Unavailability of quality roads, hospitals, schools, and integrated ret ail and entertainment developments are some of the other pitfalls. However, the current government’s receptiveness towards awarding the required licenses, permits and approvals for the development of hotels comes as a welcome change, and this is visible in the robust supply pipeline of branded hotels across the st ate. With the new government ’s lockdown on the mining industr y in Goa, attention is likely to shift to tourism becoming a strong revenue generator for the state. Overall, most stakeholders in Goa’s hospitality sector still feel that more needs to be done towards the development and promotion of Goa as a preferred destination. Of approximately 2,600 rooms that are proposed, about 62% are under active development and are likely to enter the market over the next three to five years. Year-on-year growth in demand is likely to keep pace and we do not foresee any significant pressure on the existing market’s short term performance. In fact, our medium-to-long term outlook for the market remains buoyant; if there is anything that should be a cause of worry for the Goa hotel market, it is the continued growth of other popular beach destinations within and around the country, such as in Sri Lanka. Hyderabad witnessed the second

highest decline in occupancy (6.8%) after NOIDA in the last 12 months, mainly due to supply pressure coupled with the global slowdown in the IT/ITeS sector and more recently the Telangana issue, which also kept average rates subdued in the cit y. Never theless, the RPDs increased by 3.4% in the last year due to moderate office expansions and some new investments into the city. Demand in Hyderabad continues to be driven by the IT/ITeS sector with approximately 75% of the commercial space in the cit y occupied by this sec tor. Going for ward, Hyder abad is also emerging as a hub for R&D, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology sectors. Also, with the emergence and expansion of HITECH Cit y and Gachibowli areas as micromarkets, the city has witnessed a movement of businesses from the CBD to these areas, as the former loses its desirability owing to higher office rentals and poorer infrastructure. This phenomenon is anticipated to have a favourable impact on the HITECH Cit y and Gachibowli hotels. The city has seen a compounded growth of 17.8% (Table 1) in supply over the last five years, whi le RevPAR witnes sed a compounded decline of only 8.7% for the same period, highlighting the city’s resilience to addition of new room supply. Going forward, HVS anticipates 3,433 rooms to enter the market in the next five years, with 87% under active development and a majorit y of the proposed room supply planned in the mid market and budget space (78.5%). Hyderabad has always boasted of quality infrastructure that is ahead of cities like Chennai and Bengaluru, in addition to a skilled talent pool. Furthermore, the recent announcement of the government’s decision to accept Telangana as a separate state has laid to rest the political uncertainty in the region. Keeping these factors in mind, HVS expects the city to bounce back and emerge as a global IT/ITeS hub in

40 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

the medium-tolong term, thereby having a favourable impact on the city’s hotel market. Jaipur, along with Agra and Goa, continues to be one of the top leisure destinations in the country. The city, which currently features approximately 3,900 hotel rooms, witnessed a supply growth of approximately 27% in 2012/13 over 2011/12, the highest in the country. However, in spite of such a large increase in supply, occupancy declined marginally by 2.0% during the same period. On the other hand, average rate actually witnessed a 4.0% growth during the same period, primarily because the newly introduced Fairmont and other luxury/upper upscale hotels in the city remained fairly rigid on average rates. However, if one were to exclude the average rates of these hotels, the city actually saw a 4.0% drop in average rate in 2012/13 over 2011/12. Similar to Goa and Agra, Jaipur continues to benefit from year-on-year demand grow th from the domestic traveller segment. Over the last twoto-three years, Jaipur has established itself as a key MICE destination with the introduction of hotels like the Marriott and more recently the Fairmont and the LaLit, which offer substantial meetings and events space. The city’s proximity to Gurgaon and Delhi, much improved highway connectivity and the competitive rates the city is able offer, makes Jaipur an ideal destination for two-three day conferences and events. Additionally, the city’s hotels have created customised packages and modified their existing F&B setups in order to cater to largescale ‘destination weddings’, which have gained immense popularity over the last few years. Going forward, the city’s supply pipeline remains fairly robust totalling some 2,900 hotel rooms. Of these, approximately 1,200 are expected to commence operations over the next two years. Consequently, we expect both

occupancy and rate pressures to affect the market in the short term. In the medium to long term, with only 56% of the proposed supply expected to actually commission, we expect the Jaipur hotel market to gradually improve its overall performance. Kolkata in 2012/13 witnessed a marginal increase in RevPAR, which was primarily due to limited supply entering the market. Currently, Kolkata is amongst the smallest hotel markets, larger than only NOIDA (including Greater NOIDA) and Agra despite the fact that in 2012/13, the existing supply tracked by us was higher than the previous year (Tables 7 and 9). Demand in the city continues to be driven by Public Sector Units, corporate, medical tourism and events, with a higher domestic to foreign guest ratio, which keeps the hotel market less vulnerable to global economic changes. The city is also the primary gateway to northeast India, and an entry point for commercial and leisure travellers going to Bodh Gaya, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Bangladesh and Nepal. Although Kolkata has seen rapid commercial development along its eastern peripher y over the last few years, the cit y continues to find it difficult to attract new investment due to poor state government policies and an uncertain business environment. The new Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport opened in early 2013, enabling the airport’s passengerhandling capacity to increase from 7.46 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 20 mppa. The Airports Authority of India is working towards to attracting carriers to the new airport; however, we are not overly-optimistic on the impact of the new airport, as commercial growth remains muted. We are currently tracking 3,511 rooms that are proposed for development with 64% of them under active development, which is a cause for some concern; consequently, in the short term,


INDUSTRY REPORT

we anticipate marketwide occupancy and average rate to decline, primarily due to supply pressures. In the medium-tolong term, while we expect occupancy to remain under pressure, average rates are expected to exhibit moderate growth, with over half of the new supply planned in the luxury and upscale space. Mumbai (including Navi Mumbai) continues to retain its position as the largest hotel market in the countr y. As the commercial capital of India, the growth in year-on-year accommodated demand in the cit y continues to be robust. Testament to this fact is that in spite of a CAGR of 6.4% in supply over the last three years, the citywide occupancy has actually grown marginally (1% CAGR) during that time. Average rates, however, have seen a downward correction with most properties entering the market during this period giving precedence to occupancy rather than average rates. The various micromarkets in Mumbai with the exception of the CBD area have all seen continuous additions to office stock that has continued to fuel demand for hotels. Areas such as Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC, now considered the new CBD), Andheri, Malad, Vikhroli and Goregaon continue to witness the setting up of new offices resulting in most hotels located in

these micromarkets witnessing growth in demand. Majority of the new supply expected to enter the Mumbai market is also located in the North Mumbai micromarkets of BKC, Andheri, Chembur and Mulund. Increase in supply however, over the short term, is expected to be fairly muted with inventory additions to the city primarily being on account of expansions and renovations at various hotels. This is a cause for worry as hotels projects are increasingly facing bureaucratic logjams owing to a visibly slow approval process, evident from the fact that only 42% of the proposed supply being tracked by us for this market, is actually under active development. H o w e v e r, w e a r e h o p e f u l o f developments such as the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) landside development that includes several new hotels, commercial and retail complexes, hospitals and so on, to change the face of Mumbai at large in the medium-to-long term. Additionally, a proposed convention centre currently being developed near the domestic airport is further expected to augment large scale MICE demand for the city. Going forward, with improvements in infrastructure such as the development of the Metro and Monorail, upgradation of the existing Airport, opening of the

Bombay Port Trust Road and so on, our outlook for Mumbai remains bullish. The Navi Mumbai micro-market continues to be largely dependent on unbranded hotels. The total number of branded rooms recorded in 2012/13 was approximately 1,100. An additional 600 rooms, ranging from budget to upscale categories of hotels, are expected to be added over the next five years. While Navi Mumbai has witnessed an increase in commercial activity over the last few years with developments such as Mindspace and the Reliance Technology Park, future growth of the area largely hinges on the development of the new international airport at Panvel that has already witnessed several delays and is yet to commence construction. Pune saw the highest grow th in occupancy (13.0%) accompanied by a moderate decrease in average rate (4.1%) resulting in RevPAR growth of 8.3%, the second-highest amongst the cities presented in this year’s survey. Marginal change in supply (2.6%) accompanied by a healthy growth in demand (16%) led to a double-digit growth in occupancy. Similar to the previous year, growth in demand in 2012/13 continued to be led by the MICE segment as the city catered to several large conferences and weddings owing to its good connectivity with Mumbai

and competitive prices the Pune market is able to offer. Extended Stay segment also saw a surge mainly from new projects being set up in the industrial pockets of Talegaon and Chakan. Going for th, we ex pec t robus t growth in demand in the Commercial segment, led by the IT/ITeS sector, as new IT parks get developed in both Hinjewadi and Kharadi. However, demand from the manufacturing sector is anticipated to remain muted in the short term owing to the slowdown in the automobile industry. On the supply side, we are currently tracking new supply of 3,705 rooms with 67% under active development. A majority of the supply is planned to be developed in Hinjewadi and the industrial area of Chakan. With only moderate growth in both demand and supply, we expect occupancy to remain stable in 2013/14. Average rates are, however, anticipated to decline as hotels continue their focus on improving occupancy. In the medium-to-long term, as growth in demand revives (especially from the manufacturing sector) and there is a moderation in supply growth, we anticipate the marketwide performance to steadily improve. ■ By Kaushik Vardharajan Managing Director – HVS Hospitality Services and Juie S. Mobar Associate Director – Special Projects

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 41


GUEST COLUMN

Leverage your online hotel reputation for better returns

UDAI SINGH SOLANKI CTO & MANAGING DIRECTOR, EREVMAX TECHNOLOGIES

B

eing a part of the industry, hotel reviews are something I always take with a pinch of salt. Especially those on the extreme ends! However, internet is a place for opinions and if more people join in the chorus to say negatively about a property, then I would rather give it a miss instead of taking a chance. But does that really make it a bad hotel? Truth be told, if most people are unhappy with the property, then there must be something wrong with it. Guests are expressing their dissatisfaction as they have had bad experiences. And hotels need to take them seriously. As the first rule of the service industry says customer is the king, and in this age of hyperinternet activity, they rule. As simple as coffee makers One of my friends, an ex-revenue manager had a unique experience in a hotel she had worked in. A decision was made to pull out coffee makers from rooms. Management thought it would be cost effective in the long run to cut down the additional task of replacing and stocking this one guest amenity and instead focus on other areas for improvement. There was a café in the lobby and so during the time of check-ins, guests were given a voucher to redeem it at the café. You would think the problem was solved. Well, not quite!

Guests began to leave negative reviews not only on travel sites, but a l so t h roug h t he hot el’s internal guest feedback form. It s e e me d t h at one a me n it y af fected their entire stay and made them question the worth of the room. To appease guests, rate adjustments had to be made; additionally they were provided complimentary coffee from the café. The hotel’s ran k ing on TripAdvisor went down sharply because its competitors continued to supply coffee-makers in their rooms and guests felt they were get t i ng more va lue for t hei r money w it h t he c omp et it or. Another decision was made by

42 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

the executive team. And coffee makers were back in place. And it worked! Unknowingly (or maybe not) guests have placed themselves at the decision-making table of the hotel. Stitching it together For a hotelier, facing challenges like these can be a nightmare, especially when it hits you out of the blue. Hence, it is essential to take an analytical approach to understand your strengths and weaknesses as per your guests and take a cohesive approach to address these issues. However, guests share feedback on various

review and travel sites – all this valuable information is scattered and unstructured. It is here that online reputation management tools play a big role in consolidating these guest reviews and presenting them to hotels in structured report formats. Usually, these tools pull guest feedback from various review websites including Qype, Holidaycheck, Yelp, Expedia, Facebook, Twitter etc. Data is then compiled together into review reports which include guest details (as it appears on the site) along with their feedback and the rating they provide to the hotel. Hotel reputation management tools like RateTiger Review, uses


GUEST COLUMN sentiment analysis to understand the guest’s emotion towards various aspects of the property. Keywords relevant to the properties are then identified and ranked based on their popularity, frequency of mentions and guests’ sentiments towards that category. I n ot her word s, sema nt ic analysis gives out a snapshot of what’s right and what’s wrong with the property. For the hotel, it serves as a measurement of guests’ perception against intended brand positioning. For the marketing team this analysis provides a key insight into guests’ preference, which will help them customize their promotions to have a direct resonance with customer sentiment. From the operational perspective, you now know the areas you need to address the most. For instance, if a hotel continuously keeps getting comments that their rooms are outdated and uncomfortable; this is an indication to the management to invest in renovation to ensure guest satisfaction, as well as attract new guests. Guest review analysis works hand in hand with rate, occupancy, RevPAR and channel performance to provide hotels with the overall picture, and efficiently use Price Quality metrics to make strategic rate decisions. Managing your feedback According to recent studies, one third of consumers will not book a hotel room without first reading reviews first (Laterooms Survey, Nov 2012). Reviews with a rating on 4 – 5 generate more than double the conversion compared to a review with 1.0 – 2.9 rating on Expedia. Hotels that have a higher guest score typically will have better placement on the travel sites. A better placement on the travel site means more bookings. More bookings mean a higher room rate, and eventually higher revenue for the hotel. Take the example of Slovenia based LifeClass Hotels & Spa, which

has experienced a surge in repeat business by developing a poststay, guest engagement through online guest review websites using RateTiger Review. Each property a s s e s s e s t he i n for mat ion a nd responds to guest reviews from social channels like Facebook, Yelp, etc along with those associated with sales channels (like Booking and Expedia) multiple times a day. “We have been actively monitoring guest reviews of our properties as well as those of our competitors. RateTiger Review has helped us to respond pro-actively to negative reviews, and address our product offerings,” observed Alen Milosevic. This has resulted in 30% revenue growth in 2012. What ’s mor e, a n i mprove d ranking has a positive correlation with direct booking. For 4C Hotels in London, proactive guest engagement has resulted in a 5% increase in direct booking. “Whenever we see a negative posting, we action a proper investigation to find out what went wrong. We don’t make the same mistakes as before, we are able to identify them and address them,” says Asad Zaheruddin, General Manager at 4C Hotels. A strong visible position on guest review websites indicate that your Price Quality Index is working well, that will enable you to make the right pricing decisions based on RevPAR performance. This will allow the hotel to f lex their rates based on a number of pricing strategies depending on booking levels. However, there are no short cuts. It is an evolving process that has to start today! As we move t owa r d s t he a ge of c on s u me r controlled brand conversations, hotels need to integrate customer feedback into thei r business approach and strategy planning. Reve nue m a na ge me nt w a s always a game of chess and now even more pieces are being added to the board. By staying actively engaged with guests, hotels can ensure a more consistent and loyal base. ■

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 43


F&B

JW Marriott Pune

Creating a sought after Le Bar diamantaire, Sofitel, Mumbai BKC

hotel bar

44 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


F&B

Hotel bars and lounges are an integral part of revenue generation from F&B. A lot of focus and effort goes into deciding the theme and design of a bar, ensuring an exclusive inventory of premium spirits and serving patrons the right accompaniment in terms of snacks and music. Hoteliers actively work towards building loyal customers that ensure repeat business and promote offers and innovations. Hotelscapes saunters across a few prominent hotel bars to understand efforts made to push revenue generation from lounge bars. BAR 101, JW Marriott, Pune Equidistant from Pune Airport and Mumbai Pune Expressway, JW Marriott, Pune boosts of BAR 101, a Scottish styled bar which has earned the coveted Gold Certification by the Whisky Bars of the World 2012. The interiors feature predominant

SUSHANT REGE CLUB MANAGER, JW MARRIOTT PUNE

The bar snacks have been selected careful by the chef to compliment the whiskies. The bar keeps some whiskies that are exclusive and not available in any other bar in Pune and as a result builds a loyal customer base to keep the revenue ticking.

wood flooring and finishing with leather sofas, dim lighting and a glass cabinet displaying the entire range of whiskies on offer. Sushant Rege, Club Manager explains that they keep a “large inventory since a lot of guests prefer buying bottled liquor. The b a r s nac k s h ave b e e n selected careful by the chef to compliment the whiskies. As a standard bar gratis, we offer salt crusted chocolate grissini as dark chocolate pairs well with whisky”. As a focal point for revenue generation, they are creating a niche segment by designing it as an exclusive whisky bar for whisky lovers. “The bar keeps some whiskies that are exclusive and not available in any other bar in Pune and as a result builds a loyal customer base to keep the revenue ticking”, says Rege. As another initiative to popularize the bar, the management has initiated BAR 101 Whisky Club which brings together people who appreciate whisky in the city and hold whisky tastings for them once in a month. Talking about the variety of sprits that the bar stocks Rege informs, “the premium whiskies that we serve include Johnnie Walker King George V, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Chivas Regal 25 YO, Royal Salute, Talisker 25 YO and Highland Park 30 YO.’’

Le Bar Diamantaire, Sofitel, Mumbai BKC Giving an unforgettable experience to the patrons, Le Bar Diamantaire is a home to the ‘Diamantaires’ of India. For a more casual affair refreshed

with chilled tropical juices and designer cocktails at the 3rd floor pool, this place is perfect. Sanjeev Advani, Director of Sales & Marketing elaborating further says, “Le Bar Diamantaire sports a majestic floor-to-ceiling Wine Tower, along with a collection of select international wines”. In terms of innovation, “the bar at Sofitel serves innovative cock ta i l s a long w it h g reat music and delicious Indo-French cuisine. The entertainment is diverse and the mood is trendy, chic and spirited”, says Advani. At Sofitel they have given st ress on i n novat ions for generating revenue out of the bar. “The bar is an integral part of hotel services and an important revenue generator. The trend of creating destination restau rants and ba rs in hotels rather than a standard restaurant is seen across all our properties. We aim to provide o u r g ue s t s w it h a u n i q ue experience,’’ explains Advani. Apart from classic alcoholic beverages, Le Bar Diamantaire serves innovative concoctions of Mai Tai, Ma rtinis a nd Margaritas. The bar attendants customise the drinks for guests by mixing exotic spices, fruits and vegetables. Also they have Remy Martin’s Louis XIII and the 60 ml of that cognac costs `11,000. Around 40 varieties of single and rare malts from various parts of Scotland are available on the menu. Grappas includes variety ranging from Eau de Vie Bertrand- Kirsch, Eau de Vie Joseph Ca rtronPoire William, Eau de Vie Joseph Ca r t ron-M i rab el le, Grappa

SANJEEV ADVANI

DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING, SOFITEL, MUMBAI BKC

The Bar is an integral part of hotel services and an important revenue generator for the hotel. The bar at Sofitel serves innovative cocktails along with great music and delicious Indo-French cuisine.

Pi not, Grappa Di Caber net, Grappa Di Nebbiolo to Grappa Di Moscato.

Polo Lounge, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi Oozing an English colonial look, Polo Lounge at Hyatt Regency is a preferred bar in the capital for a relaxed evening. Polo Lounge

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 45


F&B

Hyatt Polo Lounge

Wink, Taj President, Mumbai

46 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


F&B at Hyatt Regency Delhi has been honoured with the recognition of being one of the three ‘Highly Recommended Bars in India’ at the Whisky Awards 2012. Somnath Dey, Director of Food & Beverage says, “The design aspect is something that immediately appeals to the eye and invites guests to try out a new place.  It is the first appeal aspect of any food and beverage outlet.  The design aspect is a composit ion of a va r iet y of components entailing furniture, fixtures, lighting, ambience and

SOMNATH DEY DIRECTOR OF FOOD & BEVERAGE, HYATT REGENCY, NEW DELHI

Our customer base is very strong and loyal guests are always there to maintain the annual returns. Considering the welltravelled business clientele, international guests and a five-star brand relevance that we maintain, quality of service.

accents to name a few.  At Polo Lounge all this detailing has been taken care of.’’ The Polo L ou nge ha s traditionally styled classic wood pa nel i ng, c of fer e d c ei l i ng s and leather Chesterfield chairs depicting the colonial style, while the bar has a contemporary transparent steel finish precisely why it has been frequented by whiskey lovers and city’s elite. “The customer base is very strong in the bar.  Loyal guests are always there to maintain the annual returns.  Hence it is important that we meet the needs of the loyal customers and make the ambience inviting for new visitors,” adds Dey. Also apart from the menu certain incentives keep the customers hooked and Hyatt takes care of it. “Adding a musical element to the bar – a live performance together with the introduction of special package promotions, results in an inviting change from time and again and keep the guests coming’’ says Dey. The extensive beverage menu at the Polo Lounge includes a collection of vintage single malts, aged up to 46 years, ranging from Glenfiddich Vintage 1961 and Glenf iddich 40 year-old to Glenfarclas 46 year-old.   In addition to the single malts, the bar also has the legendary cognac, Remy Martin Louis XIII, from the house of Remy Martin, a rare collection of bourbon, Irish and Japanese whiskies, vintage champagne and wine, up-market spirits and liquors. “O u r l i s t h a s b e e n c r e ated keeping in mind the elite crowd that we manage on a day-to-day basis. Considering the well-travelled business clientele, international guests and a five-star brand relevance that we maintain, quality of service and product is something that we can’t afford to compromise’’, adds Dey.

Wink, Taj President, Mumbai Distinctive elixirs, the latest music a nd mouth-water i ng dishes in a vibrant setting, come together to provide a spirited and inviting experience. Wink provides a smooth transition of two interconnected spaces, allowing guests to shift from the high-energy bar area with its glass bar, stone flooring and brick walls to the more intimate, ca rpeted lounge a rea in an instant. “The design of Wink is contemporary art with earthy colours and mood lighting to soothe the senses. Wink also has lounge seating sections in addition to the comfortable bar stool seating,” says Pankaj Sampat, General Manager, Taj President, Mumbai. Talking about the bar menu they serve finger snacks like sushi and wasabi nuts here. The music adds to the ambience, DJ music is moderated based on the time of the evening to accommodate all guests alike. The martinis at Wink are made from fresh ingredients. Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices is what gives ‘Winktinis’ a f resh tw ist. Tr y the f resh herb, fruit and vegetable herb based Detox cocktails. Wink has been designed by the cutting edge Japanese design f i r m S U P E R P O TAT O. T h e designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu has to his credit design works for a host of restaurants and ba r s i n Japa n, L ondon a nd San Francisco, including the hip and fashionable ZUMA in Knightsbridge, London. “Wi n k is a n i mpor ta nt watering hole for the business executive and the party crowd’s alike and utmost care is accorded in terms of right pricing and right revenues.  To attract patrons, Wednesdays are dedicated only to ladies at Wink. We indulge in daily activities that range from DJ

PANKAJ SAMPAT

GENERAL MANAGER, TAJ PRESIDENT, MUMBAI

We indulge in daily activities that range from DJ nights to celebrity bartenders to keep our guests engaged. Wink has been rated as the best bar in the city and best snacks are served at the best prices.

nights to celebrity bartenders to keep our guests engaged”, adds Pankaj. The bar serves the best wine labels in the city, followed by the best of beverages worldwide. In addition, they also serve their very own Abrelour Whisky, limited edition which is Vivanta by Taj specific creation. “Wink has been rated as the best bar in the city year on year and we believe that only the best beverages and best snacks are to be served at the best prices’’ summarises Pankaj. ■ by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 47


DESIGN

Designing on a budget The cost of building and designing a hotel often is a challenge especially when it comes to the budget category. Such hotels have allocated limited funds and aim to provide basic and standardized amenities but every hotel varies in their designing strategies. Hotelscapes talks with few of these leading budget hotels operating successfully in India on how they are bringing innovations and creating utility based designs on a budget. 

GINGER HOTELS

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he Ginger Hotels are built around a unique concept that provides facilities to meet the key needs of today’s traveller, at affordable rates. P.K. Mohankumar, MD & CEO, Roots Corporation Limited, tells us about the strategies and practices that they follow on creating a utility-based designs across their hotel chain. “Ginger Hotels was formed on the principle of Smart Basics - a philosophy of providing intelligent, thought-out facilities and services at a ‘value pricing’. Our rooms are designed in a way such that the space available is used in an efficient manner also keeping in mind the aesthetic appeal. At Ginger, we have a concept called ‘Smart Space Rooms’ wherein the rooms are designed with comfort and practicality in mind. We are able to design smart and stylish rooms at cost effective rates. The hotel design looks at minimizing common areas (for guests) and back of house areas, thereby giving us efficiency in

48 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

the total built up area per key. For example, absence of large lobbies, banquet halls, pool, fitness centre etc.,’’ he comments. Talking further about the standard design that they follow across all the hotels, Mohankumar says, “We have a standard design that is replicated across each Ginger property. The standard area of a room is 176 square feet which includes amenities such as television, ergonomic work space, mini fridge, wardrobe, luggage space, tea/coffee maker etc. This standardization helps us to maintain the consistency of the brand and also give the customer a uniform experience at all our properties. A Ginger guest will have the same stay experience, be it any property across India, thus enabling us to forge a lasting relationship with him. The benefits are optimal design and execution time, economies of scale and predicative maintenance and operation procedures’’.


DESIGN

COUNTRY INNS & SUITES BY CARLSON

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ountry Inns & Suites have their own market strategies unlike the above mentioned hotels when it comes to following a set pattern of designs across their hotels.  In a conversation with Pratip Kumar Majumdar, General Manager, Country Inn, Saket, we got to know not all the Country Inns & Suites follow a signature design or have set standards across their hotels.  He says “We are not following a set standard of designs across our hotels. In fact we can’t do that because all design is based out of location, area, city and product and we take care of these criteria while designing any hotel of our chain”.  Talking about creating an innovative and utility based design on a budget he says, “Our sales budget is basically based on the current market segment and upcoming market forecast. The criteria of our budget are based on the unit wise cost of all the expenditure to be incurred on sales budget. Fund flow budget has the impact of both the actual projected sales and the expenses based on it”.

KEYS HOTELS

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t the Keys Hotels, their focus is on providing value for money accommodation for the young mid-segment traveller. Talking about the design of the hotel Sanjay Sethi, CEO & MD, Berggruen Hotels says, “Keys hotels’ have standard format across its hotels which is being regularly whetted out by guests and upgraded periodically based on guest feedbacks. The approximate per room cost of owned hotel is `30 lacs (including land cost). Each of the Keys Hotels is designed in such a fashion that as you enter through a lobby with double height ceiling, it flows into a multi cuisine restaurant and a trendy small bar. All these three spaces, though not large in itself, appears to be larger by the uninterrupted flow of space between them. The guest rooms are designed with adequate space for all furniture in a functional manner with large windows and facilitation of natural light into the toilets. The room thus creates a feel of openness, integrated with toilet and vestibule area. However, the management and the franchisee hotels of Keys Hotels have a defined dictum about their infrastructure. We also perform standard processes of Revenue & Inventory Management and Internal audits. These help us manage our costs per key while centralizing our distribution, marketing and sales strategies. It also helps us in optimizing our revenue streams and regulating the budgets’’. ■ by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI

September 2013 • HOTELSCAPES 49


MATTRESS SPECIAL

PRODUCTS

SNOOZER to ensure high level of comfort

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ossessing a high-degree of expertise and technological innovations, Snoozer premium mattresses are ideal for those who wish to replicate the true five star sleep experiences. These mattresses provide high level of comfort and orthopaedic support. The price is on request. For more information visit: www.snoozerbedding.com

New range of mattresses by SLEEPWELL

Mattresses that breathe by LIBRA

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ibra launches its first breathable mattress of its own kind, Oxy Spa. One will experience the international feel and comfort, a class above the rest, when sleeping on it. This mattress offers profile top layer, soothing body points and the air circulation through the channel in this layer. It is available in 5 and 6 inches and comes with 15 years guarantee. The price is on request. For more information visit: www.libramattres.com

50 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

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l e e pwe l l p r e s e nt s it s ne w Latex Plus range with unique Comfort Channel Technology that enhances comfort by reducing pressure points, disseminates heat and humidity by enhancing air circulation, keeping the mattress f resh a nd vent i lated. Th is technology merges the resilience and bounce of traditional latex w it h t h e s p e c i a l f e at u r e s o f Sleepwell for the ultimate sleeping experience. The price is on request. For more information visit: www.sleepwell.com


MATTRESS SPECIAL

PRODUCTS

RAHA mattresses with stateof-the-art technology

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anking on the innovative work culture, technical acumen and strong supply network, Raha specializes i n ma nufactu ri ng a nd marketing a matchless variety of mat t r e s s e s, b e d d i n g s, mattress protector, pillows, bedding, comforters, etc. The mattresses of Raha are made from using high quality raw materials and state-of-thea rt tech nolog y providing excellent comfort. The price of these mattresses is on request. For more information visit: www.rahaindia.com

KING KOIL Unveils Posture Sense Mattress

KURL-ON unveils its new premium mattress

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ing Koil has ushered in its latest range of premium mattress Posture Sense. These mattresses are most widely available balanced coiled support system mattress, with a unique dual comfort feature. To ensure, an ultimate sleeping comfort, this uniquely designed and patented technology mattress, has been launched, for the first time in the Indian mattress market. These mattresses are made from the finest material in the most appropriate mix and provide an unrivalled comfort and support to the human body. These matresses ranges from `15,000 to `46,000. For more information visit: www.kingkoil.com

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magine’ luxury foam has been launched by Kurl-On to elevate the experience of one’s sleep to the highest level. This latest offering is a result of detailed research and development that was put in to understand the customer’s need and their comfort quotient inside out. This mattress caters to the ergonomic needs of the customers by supporting the shape of the body as it rests on it, thus enhancing the comfort and the health benefits of it. The price is `35,710 each. For more information visit: www.kurlon.com


PRODUCTS

Technologically advanced laminated porcelain by COVERLAM

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overlam is a laminated porcelain tile, 3mm thick, produced by mixing natural raw materials, ground together in the presence of water, compacted using a technologically advanced pressing system and then fired in a novel hybrid kiln which amongst other things enables major reductions to be made in CO2 emissions. Furthermore Coverlam is structurally reinforced by means of fibre glass mesh .5mm thick, adhering to the back endowing it with optimal mechanical strength. This range is available in a variety of more than 25 shades and textures and the price is on request. For more information visit: www.grespania.com/coverlam

ELECTROLUX launches Brio, an easy to clean burner

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rio, the gen-next gas hob makes cooking easier and food tastier. When it comes to cooking, having a reliable cooktop is a must for all kinds of kitchens. Also Brio by Electrolux is easy to clean. The hobs come with three burners that ensure effortless cleaning while maintaining a consistent high performance. In addition, the hobs also incorporate several professional-style features. The burner is priced at `36,900. For more information visit: www.electrolux.in/builtin 54 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

CORNITOS launches new Thai sweet chili flavour Nachos

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ornitos launches a premium range of new Thai Sweet Chilli flavour to give an exotic South-Asian taste to the consumers. They are made through the traditional Mexican Lime-Treatment process with special food grade non-gmo corn. Thai sweet chili flavour is an amalgamation of chili and sweet which is adored by the Indian palates. The flavour is intense and yet innovative and keeps the taste buds wanting for more. The 150gm pack is priced at `85 and 140gm canister for `125. For more information visit: www.cornitos.in


PRODUCTS

Trinity condiment server by arttd’inox

Vega carpets by OBSESSIONS XCLUSIF

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rttd’inox introduces a stylish Trinity Condiment Server with a combination of wood and stainless steel. One can use this product to serve multiple items such as pickles, chutneys, mouth fresheners etc. on their dining tables. Perfectly suited as a gift item, this server is truly stylish and eye-catching. It comes with completely detachable vessels fixed on a steel base. It is priced at `2,300 per piece. For more information visit: www.arttdinox.com

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bsessions Xclusif launches an exclusive new range of Vega Carpets with classic beige brown base. This carpet is an ideal fit for any kind of room giving a rustic look to it. These carpets add luxurious look and character to the floors. Manufactured with high quality material it’s a captivating collection available in classic and innovative designs. These carpets are highly durable and easy to maintain. The price is on request. For more information visit: www.obsessions.co.in

houseproud.in launches new serve-ware

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ouseproud.in introduces their new range of Italian imports. This collection focuses on vintage, floral and Native American patterns to add a different zing to the decor. From cake stands, glass trays to fun kitchen accessories, authentic fondue sets and more, there is a European touch to the way you serve. This collection consists of fabulous floral prints that never go out of style and oh-so-fun vintage pop art designs that bring back the dynamic 40’s and 50’s. This collection is priced from `1,900 approximately. For more information visit: www.houseproud.in 56 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


All weather furniture I No Maintenance I Customization

Interblocco, manufacturers of luxury outdoor furniture, introduces its new range of live-in furniture. We are best known, for our innovative and efficient approach, in producing attractive woven furniture, that transforms outdoor areas into sophisticated, relaxing spaces and looks equally spectacular indoors. Sofa Sets I Stackables I Dining Sets I Bar Sets I Coffee Sets I Loungers I Gazebos I Accessories

w w w.interblocco.com

Manufacturing Unit: 170 Sector 6, IMT Manesar, Gurgaon, Haryana – 122050 India Phone: 0124 4367710 Mobile +91 9810344411, + 91 9811062555 Email: rohit@interbloccofurniture.com Office: 23, M Block Market, Greater Kailash Part II, New Delhi – 110 048 Mobile: +91 98111-42204 Email: info@interbloccofurniture.com


NEWS SNIPPETS DOMESTIC

Ranbanka Palace gets classified as Heritage Classic

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onferred the Heritage Classic Category by the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism, the Ranbanka Palace Hotel at Jodhpur is the one and only, heritage Classic category hotel in the city. The hotel provides a perfect amalgam of old world charm and contemporary style. Sayyad MA General Manager was overwhelmed by this award and said, “We are extremely delighted to hear the news, and our aim has always been to give the best to our clientele. We will continue to offer novel heritage experiences, and will strive to delight the travelers and make their stay with us a memorable one”.

First Keys Klub opens in Pune

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lose after the announcement of Keys Hotels’ upscale brand, Keys Klub, the parent company is set to launch its first property, Keys Klub Hotel Parc Estique, Pune. In the business district of Viman Nagar and Pune airport, this 115 room property, is offer affordable luxury and target the contemporary business traveller. Other facilities include a business floor with a dedicated lounge, a business centre, multiple and flexible banquet options, a rooftop swimming pool, gymnasium and a full service spa. For dining, chefs at the hotel offer an international range of culinary preparations. The all-day dining restaurant, ‘Aubergine’ features a diverse menu, including Indian and international dishes. ‘Blinque’, the bar serves Latino Asian cuisine and the third is Lava, a rooftop grill serving Nouvelle Pan Indian cuisine. Commenting on the launch, Sanjay Sethi, MD & CEO, Berggruen Hotels said, “We plan to add at least 2 Keys Klub Hotels into our bouquet every year in our target cities at Mumbai, NCR, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Hyderabad and by 2016, we are expecting combined revenue of `410 - `430 crores from the owned and managed hotels.”

Tux Hospitality opens a Hive property in Panipat

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ux Hospitality, operating and marketing hotels under the brand names of Mosaic, Seed and Hive, opens its new property – Hive Panipat. The hotel features 45 well-appointed rooms and offers three categories – Deluxe, Club and Suite. The room amenities include high-speed wireless internet access, mini-bar, tea-coffee maker and LCD television. The 24 hour guest room service include in-room dinning and laundry service. For F&B, the property features, ADD, a multi cuisine restaurant, The 29* North – Bar and Private Dining Room – good for parties or conferences. 58 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013


Noida-201301


PEOPLE DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore

Hilton Garden Inn Gurgaon

LATHA NAIR is appointed as the Director of Sales. She joins the as a pre-opening member of the first DoubleTree Suites in Asia Pacific. Latha Nair had associations with established hotel brands like The Park, Accor, Hyatt International Hotels & Resorts and The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts amongst others. Latha will be responsible for the overall management and leadership of the Sales department, hence brings to table her wealth of experience and knowledge in the luxury and business hotels across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Bangalore.

Formule1 Bengaluru Whitefield

NEERAJ RAWOOT has been appointed as the Executive Chef. Neeraj brings with him 16 years’ of experience in the hospitality industry and key pre-opening operational experiences on board. He would be responsible for conceptualizing, sourcing, and opening the hotel’s all day dining and Pan Asian destination-Asia Alive, the lounge bar-Equinox, serving exotic Indian and international fare, round the clock deli and select gourmet storeGrab and Go and manage the 24hrs In-room dining services.

Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel

RAGHU SAPRA has been appointed as the General Manager. He joins the as a pre-opening member of the first DoubleTree Suites in Asia Pacific. Sapra brings to the hotel 17 years of industry expertise having had associations with established hotel brands like Marriott, Hyatt and Imperial New Delhi, amongst others. He brings extensive experience in driving sales, customer service and employee development to DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bangalore.

60 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

VIVEK SHARMA has been appointed General Manager. Vivek will report to Guy Hutchinson, Vice President, Operations – India, Hilton Worldwide. Vivek brings with him over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Before joining the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of hotels in February 2012, Vivek served as General Manager for The Galaxy Hotel, Gurgaon. Under his leadership, the hotel launched India’s first micro-brewery and a Chinese speciality restaurant that went on to receive several industry accolades.

FLORIAN KOHLI has been appointed General Manager. Florian is responsible for overseeing the hotel operations of the budget hotel –Formule1 by Accor in Bengaluru. In his current role, he is managing the hotel operations responsibilities.  Florian is well aware of the challenges in managing properties in varied market situations. His association with Accor started in 2007 when he joined the Novotel Hyderabad International Convention Center as part of the Sales & Marketing Team.

AKHIL ARORA is the recently appointed Director of Rooms. In his current role he oversees all areas of the rooms division which include front office, reservations etc. Additionally he is primarily responsible for the overall guest satisfaction levels of the hotel. He brings with him over 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry, which includes formulation, managing and implementation of strategic plans and services to run efficient operations and ensuring optimal guests’ satisfaction.


PEOPLE Hyatt Regency Pune

ibis Jaipur

SALOME CHAVAN has been appointed in the capacity of Director of Sales. Salome started her career with Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. in September 1995 in the capacity of Executive Secretary. In July 1996, she moved to Carlson Hospitality in Sales Department and was associated with them until March 2002. During her span of career she was associated with Fortune Park Hotels and The Grand Delhi where she achieved the position of a Sales Manager. Her last assignment was with VCI Hospitality as an Associate Director of Sales, prior to joining Hyatt Regency Pune.

JITIN NEOL has been appointed Head of Sales. His first association with Accor India began in 2008 supporting the launch of ibis in India. Jitin hails from International Institute of Management Technology, Gurgaon (IIMT). He has completed his Higher Senior Secondary School Examination from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vidyashram, Jaipur. He enjoyed sports and played cricket, table tennis, horse riding and soccer. He was even chosen to play soccer for Nationals. Jitin has earlier worked with Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Jaypee Hotels and Radisson Edwardian Hampshire.

The Leela Palace, New Delhi

The Westin Mumbai Garden City

VIVEK BRAGANZA has been appointed as the Director of Sales & Marketing. Vivek, a post graduate in Business Administration specialized in Sales & Marketing from Indira Institute of Management, Pune. Vivek started his career in 2003 with The Taj Group of Hotels as an Assistant Manager in Commercial Sales. In a span of five years with the company he handled various sales portfolios both at unit and corporate level. In 2008, he joined Marriott Hotels, India as an Associate Director of Convention & Exhibition Sales.

CHRISTOPHE GILLINO has been appointed as the Executive Chef. In this role, Chef Christophe will oversee and drive the kitchen operations and initiatives for the palace. In a career spanning over 20 years, he has added many feathers to his cap and his last assignment was with the Four Seasons, Marrakech. Having spent years working with many finest hotels across the world, Chef Christophe has a global outlook and exposure, possessing abilities in a wide variety of styles. He firmly believes in twoway learning and constantly focuses on nurturing his kitchen.

62 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

MANISH KAKKAR has been appointed as the Hotel Manager. Prior to his new role as Hotel Manager, Manish has diverse exposure across hotels with different business models, markets and positioning, from economy to super luxury, branded chains and standalone hotels. Before assuming the current responsibilities, Manish was working with The Trident Hilton, Gurgaon and The Oberoi, New Delhi, Uppal’s Orchid (an Ecotel Hotel), New Delhi, Hotel Hindustan International and Le Meridien, New Delhi.

SHAMSHER AHMED has been appointed as Chef De Cuisine – Kangan. Shamsher has completed his Hospitality Management from Lucknow. He has over 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Shamsher’s prior assignments include Indian Master Chef, Kangan at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, Sous Chef at Marriott ICC Convection Centre, Pune and Rang Mahal Restaurant in Singapore.


In celebration of Indian culinary excellence

presents

Programme 10th International Chefs Day and Chef Awards Events Trade Test from 16th to 21st October 2013 Venue: Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology Chef Summit At The Ashok at 11:00 a.m. on 23rd November 2013 Grand Finale Award Ceremony Venue: The Ashok Hotel, Chanakyapuri, on 23rd November 2013

Jury Awards Categories

• Golden Hat Chef • Silver Hat Chef • Lady Chef of the Year These awards are for senior Chefs which are decided by a Jury. No trade test is conducted.

Date: 23rd November 2013 Venue: The Ashok Hotel, New Delhi For registration and participation, please contact INDIAN CULINARY FORUM B-66, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase - I, New Delhi -110020 Ph: +91-8800339629, E-mail: chefawards@gmail.com

Master Craftsmen Awards Categories Cash Reward Rs 20,000/- each Master Chef Category • Chef of the Year Award • Master Chef International Cuisine Award • Master Chef Oriental Cuisine Award • Master Chef North India Cuisine Award • Master Chef South India Cuisine Award • Master Chef Kebabs Award • Master Chef Indian Sweets Award • Master Chef International Confectionery Award • Master Baker Award • Kitchen Artist Award • Student Chef of the Year

Deadline for submission of entry forms: 25th September 2013 Registration Fees: INR 2,000/Per Entry

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Critical challenges faced by hotel owners in India

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unding, development, human capital and operator management contracts emerge at the leading concerns facing hotel owners in India in a recently released HVS report authored by Manav Thadani, MRICS, Chairman – South Asia and Juie S. Mobar Associate Director – Special Projects. The summary of a round table conference of hotel owners at the HICSA conference in Mumbai, brings to the forefront the critical challenges related to government approvals, lending terms, and education in the hospitality sector. HVS findings related to the problem of f u nd i ng clea rly highlight the need for lending facilities to reorganize the hoteldebt fund i ng structu re a nd consider the macro objective of having a large number of feasible hotel projects in the country. The debt funding for hotel projects in India is currently characterized by a relatively short loan term, typically 10-12years, but with h igh i nterest rates of 12% 14% in comparison to other countries where loan ranges from 20-30years with an interest rate of 5%-7%. To combat his, hotel owners can look at innovative ways of acquiring capital other than the traditional debt from the bank such as External Commercial Bor row ing (EC B) and loans against Froing Currency Non Resident Bank Account (FCNR B Account). However, risks attached to these must be fully understood. It is also the responsibility to hotel owners to then ensure sensible utilization of

funds and not fall into egodriven spending that leads to escalating development cost and an unrealistic performance ex pectation f rom operati ng teams. The second emerging challenge was the hotel development process; there is a need to work on shortened const r uction tenu re a nd rationalise costs. Innumerable gover n ment approva l s a nd licenses result in loss of time a nd money a nd leave t he owner battling bureaucratic bottlenecks. HVS recommends looking at adopting a single w i ndow clea ra nce system a s s e e n i n ot he r c ou nt r ie s i nclud i ng i nt roduction of uniform approval and licensing systems across the country. Additionally, owners are faced with high cost of land which builds pressure on creating

64 HOTELSCAPES • September 2013

more revenue generating spaces – typically leading to a vicious cycle of inventory versus the room size. HVS believes that the government needs to earmark hospitality development sites at concessional rates while hotel owners, on the other hand, must consider mixed use development a f t e r a n a na ly s i s o f l i k e ly integration and demand. Moving on to human capital related challenges; a top priority issue discussed was that international brands are not investing in hotel education in the country. Lack of skilled labour inevitably leads to poor operating performance and low profitability. There is a severe need to investment in the field of hospitality education and bring about a change. Another HR issue was that career progression for employees is a challenge faced primarily by hotel owners

who operate unbranded hotels or have a single hotel asset which results in a needlessly tall organizational hierarchy. Furthermore, hotel operators do not take adequate ownership of training quality and one sees a lack of communication between the owner and operator. The fourth challenge discussed at the HICSA conference was the alignment of owner and operator expectations. Owners are hardly ever informed or involved in hotel operations, that leads to lack of transparency and clarity of objectives. It also emerged that hotel owners in India enjoy less favourable management contract terms in comparison to the west. For instance, management contracts in the West allow for a termination upon sale and have shorter tenures. Read the full report in the next issue. ■



Hs september for website