Our world is still coming to terms with the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and industries are grappling with the consequences of the economic slowdown. The impact of the novel coronavirus on India’s hospitality sector is nothing short of severe. While most economists expect things to rebound in the latter half of the year, uncertainty still lurks.
HVS India and South Asia, a global consulting firm for hospitality, has released a report, COVID-19: Impact on the Indian Hotels Sector, that takes account of how the virus has affected the travel and tourism industry, and what can be done to restore it.
Currently, inbound tourism has come to a halt with India under lockdown, the imposition of Section 144, suspension of visas and global advisories against travel. As of now, there are barely any bookings being made for the future, and the current ones all stand cancelled. In this scenario, the report alludes, there is limited scope for quick revival, but for a slow and steady growth instead. There is little chance of an influx of foreign tourists, and most bookings for October-March—done in the summer—have dwindled.
With deteriorating numbers since February, the report predicts that the latter half of 2020 will be the worst hit. The key to reviving such a market (after the virus is contained, of course) would be an increase in domestic travel. Airlines and hotels, with aid from the government, will have to come up with quick and efficient strategies to deliver quality to their returning customers.
HVS proposes two steps: use this chasm to prepare for the upcoming demand by focusing on marketing and upgradation. This ‘Stop Gap Plan’ is about maintaining a thread of communication, using social media and advertisements, with the consumers. It's also about strengthening the communication within the company, to make a budget and plan for re-opening and to utilise this period to fix and upgrade whatever is possible.
The next step is where all the action is. Once the outbreak of the virus is contained and the world is set to travel again, HVS suggests that any plan of re-opening must be done keeping long-term benefits and safety compliances in mind. It is imperative that hospitality companies reach out to deferred and cancelled bookings and give due attention to domestic travellers. Staycations, the report believes, could make for a popular tool. The report insists that hotels and airlines must slowly roll out their services rather than starting everything instantly and to not get caught up in spending.
All in all, COVID-19: Impact on the Indian Hotels Sector urges the industry to understand that like most bad tidings, this too shall pass.