Hospitality sector that was once thriving on the international and domestic market in pre-COVID times is now left struggling to lower its fixed costs as it awaits opening up of markets and re-strategise its future course of action. Travel Newsy Spoke to Mohit Gupta, Founder of Accrue Hospitality, a hospitality consulting firm that offers turnkey services, to the hotel partners, discussing the current challenges that the hospitality industry is facing and possible ways of tackling these challenges.
Travel Newsy: How has Covid-19 impacted your business vertical?
Mohit Gupta: Like most businesses, the hospitality industry is in shock and dismay watching these unprecedented events. Some of the consequences we cannot yet imagine have left us speculating about its financial, economic, social, and political costs. In times to come, we may tell stories of these times that took our world completely by surprise. It may not be an overstatement to assert that we are in a period that would tomorrow be remembered as the horrid days that separated as pre corona and post corona eras. The aim must be to recognise that localism will initially be key and there is no quick fix to this crisis. Time and creative innovative bottom-up solutions will create a new look industry based on its core values that will ensure a resilient, positive global industry.
Travel Newsy: When do you think businesses and the economy would start reviving?
Mohit Gupta: In almost 16 years of my hospitality experience, I had never thought we would see a period quite so transformative for the travel and hospitality business. The next few years will witness a much greater push in terms of how hotels operate, owner-operator relationships could well be re-defined, as could management-employee relationships. Moreover, the consumer behaviour of travellers and the hotel product itself will be studied closely to determine what’s relevant and what’s not. It would merely be an intelligent guesstimate to time the revival. The keys to long-term recovery will be in using the culture and values of hospitality combined with innovation, entrepreneurial flair, and flexibility, in resetting, redesigning, reimagining, and re-engineering hospitality for the post-COVID-19 world.
Travel Newsy: How do you keep yourself motivated during these times and what would you advise the start-ups?
Mohit Gupta: Watching a pandemic wipe out the dreams of millions is a rare phenomenon – I doubt we and even the generation before us would not have witnessed something like that. However during this era of chaos and information overload, self-motivation by keeping oneself engaged in constructive thought – the process is the key to stride forward. Maintaining a camaraderie and having a human connection even virtually goes a long way. It’s pleasant to see a show of solidarity, an emotional bond, and a sense of commitment that parallels anything earlier what we are seeing now. Thus, apart from top & bottom lines that a lot of companies/ start-ups usually concentrate one must focus to remain afloat until we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Travel Newsy: What are the challenges that the hotel industry’s leadership is currently facing and what do you think they can do to tackle these challenges better?
Mohit Gupta: Various leaders and analysts globally believe that in order to increase profitability there is a need to address rationales of higher fixed costs and lower return on capital invested. This pandemic has possibly fast-paced the hoteliers to use this time to put their thinking caps on for creating more dynamic prepositions. Food for thought would include following possibilities of exploration while utilising this pause to stay ahead of the curve when normalcy returns.
Utilising experience hoteliers as consultants/ freelancers based on projects or on a fixed-term contract for an assignment. This would mean seasoned staffers would be accessible at cheaper remunerations.
Creating cluster setup for some of the hospitality functions like HR, procurement, IT in addition to consolidating on the setups that exist like Sales, Revenue, marketing et al could further strengthen the manpower expertise.
Using the model of a gig economy with temp workers for events, busy weekends can reduce the high fixed cost and make the payout variable based on the demands.
Developing a hierarchical model in which management and HOD positions possibly replicate the hotel operator’s fee structure than having fixed salaries (that are quite high in most of the cases) would not only cut cost but will allow a monetary motivation to perform better
Finally, resorting to technology and artificial intelligence for handling some functions could incur some initial investment with major ROI. While improvising productivity of the mundane jobs in hotels like public area cleaning, few aspects of security, and allied departments this automation will upturn the efficiency where human interaction isn’t the key.