In an exclusive conversation with TRAVEL NEWSY, MS. GEETA MAHESHWARI- DIRECTOR of HOSPITALITY & MARKETING SERVICES and PRESIDENT of the ‘INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF HOTEL REPRESENTATIVES & COMPANIES’ (IAHRC), discusses the changing trends in hospitality businesses and the marketing strategies. She also discusses with us the vision of IAHRC, and how this organisation plans to support the Hotel representative companies.
Please tell us about your company ‘Hospitality & Marketing Services‘.
Hospitality & Marketing Services that primarily roots in marketing services for standalone hotels. With the company’s hotel operations thriving, Hospitality & Marketing Services has developed and marketed an expansive portfolio of hotels leading them to run the gamut from affordable accommodations to luxury properties. We use our well-developed knowledge and experience to give the best services possible. The company has extensive experience in all phases of the hotel business and property management. It is a full-service hotel marketing company offering a broad range of services/inputs in operations, marketing and sales, accounting, human resources, and programs designed to benefit all of its clients.
Please share your experiences and learnings from the Lockdown period and what kept you motivated during the lockdown period?
Well, the initial phase was not so bad as one was not expecting such a long lockdown, though the news from around the world was not really very positive. All our well-penned plans and strategies for the year became redundant overnight. Despite the chaos, I believed in positivity around me. No doubt the industry, in particular, has been severely impacted, I feel that India with its vastness, culture, and diversity is a great tourism product and has loads and loads to offer. With such a large population, we have a ready market in terms of the domestic market and am quite hopeful that the leisure destinations will bounce back soon.
In a post-COVID market, what changes in trends do you forecast that will affect the way you do business?
To be honest each one of us is just watching how the situation unfolds in the coming few months. The business has been impacted and shall remain somewhat impacted in the next year or so. Well, online marketing has taken an upswing as people are still sceptical to meet personally. The focus has shifted totally towards the domestic market. People are still not very comfortable in travelling long distances. As a trade professional, we all are travelling in small groups thus promoting the idea that “Its safe to travel”. This trend has started very recently. Personal sales calling will not really happen for some more time.
What will be your sales and marketing strategy to get business for your clients from a very competitive market with very little business out there?
Yes, the market has been competitive and shall further remain so, in the current scenario. However, the hotel that offers superior products and services bundled together in a competitive price range will surely survive. Each one of our hotels is unique as its different from the standard matchbox kind of hotel. These are at such destinations that not only are famous but offer uniqueness to the guest experience. We have already been in touch with our partners and our loyal customers, assuring them of further strengthening of the safety measures at our hotels. We have seen some traction at the properties to whom we provide services.
What role do you see internet marketing playing in your business compared to all other marketing strategies you used in pre-COVID times?
Well, we all need to accept that technology is here to stay. The sooner one adapts it, the better it is. Internet marketing has already taken the industry by storm and each and every establishment is using it as that’s the only medium that travels so fast and communicates effectively if the campaign is marketed to the right segment.
Has COVID got you to make any changes to the terms of services on which you cater to your business partners?
Though the primary target of services to our business partners remains the same, it’s only the medium that has changed. With over two decades of professional experience, one has personally seen a lot of challenges and each challenge has been converted into an opportunity. The same is the case now, one has to work towards the business segment which was earlier neglected. Hence, the sector of domestic travel needs to be fuelled.
You are also the president of IAHRC (Indian Association of Hotel Representatives & Companies) that you launched in September, please tell us about it and what role do you see it playing in the industry in the next 5 years?
IAHRC will be the voice of independent hotel representatives and companies. We also aim to be a critical, one-stop resource for our esteemed members. Our dedicated & experienced board members will work together to create opportunities for partnerships across the industry and support and create value that will positively impact both the industry stakeholders and our members. IAHRC aims to lead and strengthen the tourism industry through promotion, education and advocacy on behalf of our members.
IAHRC strives to make a difference in the Indian Tourism Industry by benchmarking best practices, integrity, and trust through collective envisioning of knowledge forums, skill development, and excellence through teamwork, community development, and a collaborative vision. we are sure that the Tourism industry will be soaring high in the skies 5 years down the line and IAHRC we will be creating synergy among the partners, and a platform of sharing information and knowledge also will be playing a vital role in the development of Human resources by constant training.