The three day Golden Jubilee convention of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India concluded on a high note at the temple city of Bhubaneswar on Sunday. The convention witnessed several important deliberations on the issues concerning the hospitality industry while simultaneously giving an opportunity to the eastern states of India including Odisha, the host state to showcase their iconic tourism destinations to the top echelons of hoteliers, hospitality sector stakeholders and potential investors.
Summarizing the three day convention and the way forward, FHRAI’s Vice President Mr. Bharat Malkani said that “It was very wonderful three days at the Golden Jubilee convention of FHRAI and the hospitality industry looks forward for rapid growth in the coming days with policy support from Government. The existing level of taxes on the hospitality industry in India is very high as compared to neighboring countries like Singapore, Thailand etc. even though we receive very less number of tourists than those countries. This is affecting overall tourist inflow in the country. If the tax percentage on the industry is lowered, then we expect more tourist inflow to the country which will result in increased revenues for the Government.” He also informed that as a takeaway from this convention, FHRAI will prepare a charter in the coming days which will be submitted in the pre-budget notes to the Government of India.
The concluding day witnessed mesmerizing World Tourism Day Carnival and some interesting sessions on influence of digital media and online players on hotel and hospitality industry. The technical session on ‘Social Media and Technology – Influence on Hospitality Business’ focused on the new opportunities created with the advent of digital technology and the challenges it poses to the industry. Moderating the session Mr. Mike Kistner, CEO, Resnext Global Solutions said that “For hospitality business social media is a very strong marketing tool, which is a collaboration of socio benchmarking and wikis. Mr. Binu Mathews, CEO, IDS Next Business Solutions said next level of connectivity is the social connectivity what you have. It is very important to analyze social media responses and action has to be taken immediately.
Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India said Travel or OTS websites attract travelers and this is the way we are making revenues. More number of booking sites will make for more number of shoppers and hence more revenue for us as well as hoteliers. If you are not connected with internet and social media these days, then you will not get exposed to a large segment of customers. Social Media is a bridge between our industry and consumer.
Mr. Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OyoRooms.com said “Social media and technology are the key aspects in hospitality business and is in fact the next generation of hospitality. We connect with the various numbers of hotels through this technology easily. We are able to get different sources, feedbacks and reviews of millions of people. If technology is used in a right manner then everything will be more organized. Our business needs a digital medium as all of us are running for consumers. Managing a hotel in the country is very tough and if you have a good technology, good management, good social medium then you will not be in risk. Now-a-days google trends and searches are down. People are now searching things in facebook more compared to google. And offline sites are also better for social marketing.”
Explaining the business model of Oyo Rooms, he further added that long term sustainable business has kept hospitality sector away from common mass and through Oyo Rooms general people will get all types of hotel facilities easily even through digital and social media.
Mr.UpendraJit Singh CMD, Webel said social media is a big way to promote our products and services which helps us to grow our business. If you don’t treat your customer properly then you will face problem, customers will post negative comment on social media sites and you will not reach customer satisfaction.
In the technical session ‘Restaurants of Future’, celebrity Chefs threw light on the changing trends in the restaurant business and customer preferences. Moderating the session Professor David Foskett asserted that research and development also plays vital role in restaurants sector. Shorab Sitaram, Founder of Balance Restaurant and F&B Consultancy, opined that there is requirement of more skilled manpower in the restaurant business. Encouragement from the school level will motivate more youngsters to come into this sector, he added. Citing that apart from food cost, price of property is expensive, he further added that technology can be used to cut down the hard work in this sector.
Celebrity Chef Aditya Bal said “It’s a new time, new age and things are changing so fast. While thinking of setting a restaurant, one should think about the global changing perception. If one will make it a passion then designing a restaurant will be much valued. Social Media is a game changer. You can find food critic, blogger and much more in social media sites. You can market your business in a very cost effective manner, but always try the best to reach customer needs. Chefs are now celebrating regional flavors with new touch and many traditional cuisines are being repackaged suiting customer needs and preference. With the changing preference and eating habits of people, the restaurant industry also needs to adapt itself to the changing dynamics when in big cities dining out habit has decreased and ready to eat food options are also on rise.”
Mr. Sharad Dewan, Director of Food Production, The Park, Kolkata said restaurant design is not a work of engineer. Everything is taken into consideration like menu, cuisine, technology adaptation etc. Mr. Y B Mathur, Senior Executive Chef, Welcomgroup Management Institute focused on the vividity and rich variety of Indian cuisines. Elaborating that Indian cuisines range is so vast, he asserted that in India cuisines change in every 200 km. The more you go, the more you discover.
The final technical session of the day ‘Online Portals – Boon or bane’ deliberated upon the opportunities and challenges in the hospitality business with the increasing space grab by online portals in getting business and creating customers. Deliberating the session, Mr. Bharat Malkani, VP, FHRAI opined that in today’s scenario one cannot completely keep aloof from any emerging business trend and will have to find ways to cope up with the emerging trends of business. He further added that OTS players came into existence partly due to laziness of hoteliers in marketing their products or finding innovative ways to reach out to new customer segments. Hoteliers need to consider OTS and digital marketing as part of Capex instead of Opex. The other speakers at the session were Mr. Vinay Gupta, Tech Investor and Mentor, Founder & Chairman – Via.com, Mr. Avijit Arya, Social media and online reputation management expert, Mr. Harish Chandra, GM-IT, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts. Elaborating on the importance of online portals in the hospitality sector, Mr. Avijit Arya said in present day scenario internet or online portals and social media play a very crucial role in getting business for the hospitality industry. Now-a-days you cannot even thing of running hospitality business without having a website or presence in social media as you will lack presence in the dominating space, he added. While reiterating the importance of digital presence for the hospitality business Mr. Harish Chandra, GM-IT, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts said that hoteliers can balance the penetration of OTS to some extents if they can offer better rates to customers on their own websites than what is offered on OTS sites. If the product is good and the rates are competitive, then it is a good proposition, he added.
The three day convention of top hoteliers and hospitality sector stakeholders concluded with a gala evening on the serene beach at Puri with ‘Puri Poornima’.