Occupancies in some places as high as 85-90%; select locations see increased demand.
Positive sentiment around domestic travel, until the arrival of the second wave of Covid-19, has led to pre-pandemic level recoveries for the hotel and hospitality chain Marriott International that owns brands like JW Marriott, and Westin, among others.
Select locations like Goa or “short drivable locations” near cities or resort venues like Mahabaleswar saw an increased uptick, primarily from domestic and leisure travel, with occupancies in some of these places being as high as 85-90 percent. Staycations also saw an increase in demand.
However, some places like Hyderabad and Pune, normally prime drivers for the company, are “more than slow to pick up”.
On the corporate front, small meetings were happening — until the second wave hit March onwards — with safety protocols, such as social distancing measures being in place.
Long way to go
Occupancies are expected to improve to 50 percent for the quarter ended March. For the hotel industry, the numbers for a 12-month-period stand at 30 percent; for Marriott, occupancies are in the 60 percent range.
Neeraj Govil, Senior Vice-President, Operations – APEC, Marriott International Inc, said despite the initial positive trends, the industry continues to be “long way away from recoveries”.
“The momentum is definitely up. And city hotels apart, some properties are witnessing recoveries as high as 85-90 percent. However, we still are a long way from full recovery. Maybe it can happen in the latter half of 2022 or so,” he told BusinessLine.
Cap on social gatherings and weddings continue while big meetings are “yet to fire up”, Govil said adding “restaurants have seen good traction in local markets”. For instance, in places like Delhi or Mumbai, food and beverages have performed “better-than-expected”.
India a better performer
Incidentally, despite the initial hesitancies, India has been a better performer amongst other Asian destinations like Thailand or Indonesia, and also Europe, which still remains closed for international travellers. A huge number of domestic travellers and confidence in safety measures taken up across premium brands have helped increase demand.
For Marriott, this has given an impetus to develop “more domestic destinations” across tier-2 and tier-3 towns in the country that include places like Nashik, Ahmedabad, Navi Mumbai, Tiruchi, and Dehradun across brands like ‘Courtyard by Marriott’ and ‘Fairfield by Marriott’.
The company has also seen a rise in demand for homestays and may explore introducing a similar brand — Marriott Homes and Villas – that is currently operating in Europe if it sees a scope here in the future.
This Article by Abhishek Law was published in The Hindu Business Line on 14th April 2021