Companies

Leela Palaces set to make international debut next fiscal

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on July 29, 2021

Three new properties to be launched in India

Brookfield-backed Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is set to make its international debut by next fiscal, in addition to launching at least three new hotels in India as it has achieved pre-Covid-19-level occupancies, despite the ongoing pandemic.

“We were even able to gain market share compared to our counterparts. In most places where we operate, we’ve now managed to grab the second spot in terms of occupancies,” Anurag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts told BusinessLine.

While most other hotels have avoided maintenance and repairs to control costs, The Leela played smart and utilised this time to complete these repairs and pending work to avoid closures once guests come back into the hotels. “We were even able to cut necessary costs by at least 25-30 per cent. We redeployed our efforts and staff to other hotels which needed manpower and attention,” Bhatnagar said.

Innovative practices

In 2019, Brookfield had acquired The Leela’s assets in a slump sale after the hospitality company went under a pile of debt. Under new ownership, the company has been working on a massive turnaround plan.

Bhatnagar explained that the company has been investing in the usage of innovative technology during the pandemic. “In order to reduce contact, yet maintain contact with our customers. We have introduced e-menus, e-check-ins, WhatsApp assistance and e-butlers, among other services. On the back-end, we have also enhanced our CRM systems to give us a 360-degree approach.”

The Leela has also pivoted its attention towards domestic tourists in order to tide through the pandemic. “Most of our resorts enjoyed heavy load from inbound guests. With the pandemic, and lack of international travel, we have shifted our focus to strengthen our focus on domestic travelers.”

Leela has partnered with several domestic tour operators and OTAs.

In order to attract more Indian tourists, The Leela is set to introduce wellness and wildlife programmes by partnering with players in these segments.

“The pandemic hit us just months after the (Brookfield) transaction was complete. However, it was a good time for us to turn around the company and bring it back to its original glory,” Bhatnagar said.

Speaking about the coming fiscal, the way forward and the industry view, Bhatnagar said that with more people being vaccinated, he expects inbound tourism to start by the end of Q3 FY22.

Published on July 29, 2021

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