“Exhibitions and Corporate Meetings are likely to record a faster recovery”
Mercure as a brand is known for its regional connect, by which its guests are promised an authentic experience of the local culture. Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur embraces these features, which are reflected in the design and the cuisine offered at the property. Rahul Nama is the General Manager of Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur, whose sustainability initiatives including the development of an organic garden, CSR activities to help the underprivileged, social institutions, and support to frontline workers during the pandemic, have been much appreciated by the community. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Nama to know about his strategies to stay afloat in these trying times.
Nama informed about the scenario of the hospitality industry in the southern region, which has immensely changed over the years, by saying, “With the increase in disposable income, religious tourism has been largely replaced by cultural, heritage and weekend travel among nuclear families, young couples and millennials over the last decade.”
“Destinations within the driving distance of major cities such as Chennai, and Bangalore have thrived with the better connectivity of airlines and improvement in highways. International and domestic corporate travel has also increased due to industrialisation and investments in the IT industry.
Sustainability, increased emphasis on health and well-being, and seamless technology solutions have been adopted by properties during the pandemic, especially with new international brands and leading Indian brands, thus creating new benchmarks and concepts around them,” he added.
MICE which has been the bread and butter for many of the hotels in India has lost a huge chunk of their business due to the pandemic. Commenting on the future trends of this segment, Nama said, “In my view, Exhibitions and Corporate Meetings are likely to record a faster recovery, while incentive travel is expected to witness better growth in the medium-to-long term which is leisure dominated. Smaller weddings will continue to thrive as a trend during this period.”
“Conventional MICE business i.e in-person format is projected to be significantly low until such time, that most of us are completely vaccinated. As per current trends, Virtual MICE has already been adopted by corporates due to innovation in technology & communication, flexibility, and reach. However, people’s innate desire to travel, meet, connect and socialize will never cease, and instead get evolved into Hybrid,” he states.
Speaking about the readiness of Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur to fight the deadly virus, Nama briefed, “Even though the Indian hospitality industry is devastated by the attack of the virus, the hotel team has been resilient, confronting challenges in the face of the devastating effects of the pandemic, since the last one year, and is equipped to provide safe and seamless guest experience, without compromising on human touch and safety protocols. The Covid – 19 second wave in 2021 has hit the hotel industry hard, as well as, the larger community alike, however, I see optimism now with cases coming down and vaccination picking up pace. With the launch of ALLSAFE – Accor’s global hygiene and safety initiative in mid-2020, the hotel has established extensive protocols to protect our guests and staff. The hotel has seamlessly adopted technology in our guest services to reduce touchpoints, redesigned SOPs, and extensively trained our associates in the new safety protocols and hygiene standards in the new normal.”