Hospitality major, Radisson Hotels, known for its business hotels in India, is planning to increase its leisure offerings in the country under its brand, Radisson Individuals. “We see an opportunity to grow in both leisure and business segment. We have renewed appreciation for domestic leisure and domestic travel,” says Katerina Giannouka, President (Asia-Pacific), Radisson Hotel Group.
Giannouka says India's growing appetite to explore outdoors, mountains and lesser-known parts of the country has led Radisson to focus on domestic niche segments, under the Radisson Individuals brand. The strategy going forward would be not just to cater to domestic leisure demand, but also popularise Indian leisure destinations across the world. “Inbound demand is so low. Only 8% of hotel demand is international leisure. We will start working to bring in international leisure demand too,” says Giannouka. The pandemic, according to her, has blurred the lines between business and leisure. As hotels opened post the lockdown, almost 85% of the hotel chain’s occupancy came during the weekends and that was largely leisure.
There has also been a trend of people taking staycations in hotels during which they combine work and leisure. The leisure guests unlike business travelers (who typically check-in at night and check-out the next day) are far more discerning and seek experiences. As a result of this trend, the Radisson Group is looking at offering leisure experiences at its existing business hotels too. “We want to make sure there is the element of delight and we really want to focus on the service we offer,” explains Giannouka. The hospitality major has also introduced the concept of convertible rooms, where the rooms could be converted into meeting rooms. It is also planning to introduce co-working spaces at its hotels.
India, says Giannouka, has seen a hockey-stick bounce back post the second wave of the pandemic. “We are expecting to end the year at 50% occupancy, which is actually healthy. In a typical year, it is a high 60%. The occupancy rate in India is currently at 29%; in April 2021, it was barely in teens.” The bounce back has been much faster post the second wave. “Last year we touched 35% but it took us seven months to recover. We bounced back in three months after the second wave. India is leading the bounce back,” she adds.
Though Giannouka says that she has more confidence in India than any other region, she doesn’t want to paint an overtly rosy picture either. She says getting back to pre-Covid levels is still a long haul. “It will take time for the industry to recover to pre-Covid levels simply because of the average rates. The average rate in big cities is determined by international demand and that is going to take a while. The industry is unlikely to recover fully till 2026. However, we are hoping to get back to normal by 2024.” The hospitality chain hopes to end 2021 with a 50% occupancy rate.