NewsToday's Traveller Interviews

Ajay Bakaya: Travellers’ choice of hotels will revolve around hygiene, cleanliness, safety

#ReviveRebuild | Today’s Traveller initiative “Revive and Rebuild the Hospitality industry” invites Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts to share insights on new challenges in the wake of the second Covid wave and mapping a strategic way forward ..

Ajay Bakaya, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts
Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts

Today’s Traveller: How do you assess the current situation?

Ajay Bakaya: The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 has made the situation worse. Most of the states are under lockdowns for the last few weeks. The situation once again has become ambiguous and the Hospitality industry faces another challenge of uncertainty across states.

The severity of COVID-19 is far more this time compare to last year. We have witnessed many lives lost and therefore people are hesitant to go out and travel, which may make recovery slower.  Travel bubble between the countries and even inter-state travel is impacted.

Seeing the current situation and once complete unlock happens, we believe 2021 will again be the year of domestic and road travel. Concepts of remote working, staycations, workcations will remain in vogue.  Travellers’ choice of hotels will revolve around hygiene, cleanliness, safety. Trust in being safe will play a reassuring role.

Today’s Traveller: Were you prepared for a second Covid wave scenario and the likelihood of a further setback?

Ajay Bakaya: The starting of 2021 looked promising and encouraging as few countries opened borders; there was news of vaccination; travel was again coming to normal. Then came the outbreak of the second wave. Like thunder. Unexpected. It made things difficult and even more challenging. Again we hit the PAUSE phase.

Sarovar Agra
Sarovar Agra

Therefore, taking learnings from the previous year, we immediately switched our business gear and planned things according to the situation. The key was to monitor and analyze changing mindsets and emerging habits and adapt rapidly. One such case was creating a Covid care center for elderly people.

We tied up with an organization that takes care of Elderly people and created a Covid Care center dedicated to Elderly people. We rolled out self-isolation packages. Understanding the severity of the second wave, we curated the ‘GHAR KA KHANA’ food delivery service.  Nutritious, home-like food at an affordable price point. We also tied up with Hospitals for a Post Covid care facility.

Today’s Traveller: What new challenges are likely to take shape?

Ajay Bakaya: Currently business planning and strategizing have become completely pandemic dependent. Given the fatality rates and fear of a third wave, things will be unpredictable this year. Business movement has taken a hit with lockdowns. Social functions including weddings had seen a comeback, but families are deeply affected due to deaths and such events may get delayed. No one is in a position to accurately predict what could happen one year from now. People are hesitant to travel for leisure. This is the current state of the industry as a whole.

Sarovar Portico
Sarovar Portico

Domestic and international markets are differently impacted and it’s very uncertain when borders will open for travellers. We can see local, national and international travel will re-open as and when the restriction eases for respective markets.

Today’s Traveller: The way forward with strategies to rebuild the travel and hospitality industry.

Ajay Bakaya: The strategy right now is to cut costs, examine and adjust every operating cost. Expenditure and revenue planning on a daily and/ or a weekly basis must be established in order to closely manage the operational and financial risks during times of uncertainty.  

Hotels must be geared for frequent peaks and troughs at no notice. And must plan accordingly. Even weddings with limited numbers will happen at very short notice.  We are focusing on the smaller wedding segment. Corporate travel will take slightly longer. For the foreign segment, we expect the last quarter of 2022 will see significant movement.

Read More: #ReviveRebuild

Related posts

South Korea MICE Travel Game Show hits top spot in corporate engagement activities in 2020-21

Korea Tourism Organization and Today’s Traveller, successfully organised the “South Korea MICE Travel Game Show”

Marriott International to launch Courtyard by Marriott brand in beautiful Sri Lanka by late 2021

Marriott International, Inc. signed an agreement with Colombo City Centre Partners (Private) Limited, part of the Abans Group, to launch Courtyard by Marriott Colombo Sri Lanka in late 2021.

Joyjit Chakravorty appointed General Manager at Hilton Garden Inn, New Delhi/ Saket effective June 15, 2021

Hilton Garden Inn, New Delhi/Saket announced the appointment of Joyjit Chakravorty as the General Manager of the hotel with effect from June 15, 2021

Shuvendu Banerjee appointed new General Manager Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla

Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla announced the appointment of Shuvendu Banerjee as the new General Manager. With an illustrious experience of…

Natasha Mehta appointed Vice President - Special Projects and Brand Experience at The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has announced the appointment of Natasha Mehta as Vice President – Special Projects and Brand Experience

IHG expands footprint in Punjab with new build 110-keys Holiday Inn Express and Suites Jalandhar

IHG signs agreement with Samplast Resorts to develop Holiday Inn Express and Suites Jalandhar

This Father’s Day celebrate with the newly launched Billion Air Vodka

This Father’s Day celebrate with the newly launched Billion Air Vodka

Responsible dining experiences are back at ITC Maurya

The iconic, award-winning restaurants at ITC Maurya have reopened for their patrons post the announcement to open restaurants in Delhi. In the…

Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park announces hybrid weddings solution

Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park has announced the launch of its #Celebrationbeyondgeograhies national campaign, providing a Hybrid Weddings and Socials experience for…

Kunal Onkar appointed new General Manager of U Rivergate Karjat

Absolute Hotel Services India has announced the appointment of Kunal Onkar as General Manager of U Rivergate Karjat.