The travel industry went through its worst in the previous two years due to the pandemic. However, things are bouncing back with domestic destinations leading the way. Corporate travel is up too, says Anil Chadha, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC Hotels. While, average room rates improved over the previous year, they remain below pre-pandemic levels, ITC had said post its Q4 FY22 results. In an interview with BusinessLine, Chadha spoke about the recovery trends, new opening and the way forward. Excerpts:
What recovery trends do you see?
Recovery trends across the board (for travel industry) has been extremely encouraging, and is improving month-on-month. Increase in mobility has led to travel picking up significantly (with) April and May being good for industry.
And segment-wise recovery...
Leisure travel kicked off last year, with ‘revenge travel’, and over the past couple of months this demand has stabilised. Demand from the domestic leisure segment is still high and is expected to remain so in the foreseeable future.
In the corporate segment, recovery is much stronger with business travellers coming back in flights and to hotels. After a lull, corporates are coming back to meet their clients, customers and vendors to resume business. This trend will improve with time.
Foreign travel is consistently growing through the year.
What is the outlook now?
Sentiment is upbeat. Beaches to hill stations to city breaks, all categories are witnessing a surge in demand. What started off as ‘revenge travel’ (in the domestic segment) is now showing healthy signs of converting to a sustainable demand segment for the future.
With expected arrival of foreign travellers, overall business and profitability should get better.
Corporate travel has also recovered; and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) business is slowly but surely coming back. Even weddings have made a grand comeback.
Growing demand for food & beverage across restaurants and takeaways is equally reassuring.
What are your future plans?
ITC has adopted an asset right approach for the hospitality business wherein a large part of incremental room additions is expected to accrue through management contracts.
ITC Hotels will open new properties across all its brand this fiscal, starting with ITC Narmada in Ahmedabad.
Some new properties under the Welcomhotel brand are on the anvil and are expected to commence operations this year.
The first destination-led boutique property Mementos by ITC Hotels in Udaipur will also be inaugurated this fiscal; while we have another Mementos property under development in Jaipur - which will open in the subsequent year. Additionally, there are discussions on multiple other projects across urban and leisure locations.
Our new brand Storii by ITC Hotels will also come up in multiple locations across India this year.
How have the new brands fared so far?
Last year, we had announced the launch of ‘Storii’ and ‘Mementos’.
Mementos sits in the luxury segment. Storii is about selecting hand-picked boutique properties with 20 to 50 keys. And as a bespoke brand, Storii aims to offer a typical, immersive experiences. Brand Storii has generated lot of interest from owners and developers across the country and we have executed five MoUs across leisure markets, including Goa and Himachal Pradesh.
How is ITC adapting to changing traveller preferences? to it
All-inclusive packages with meals and more for the comfort with limited interaction with other people are popular. We have enabled products that cater to most travellers and comes with our WeAssure promise – our commitment towards health, hygiene and safe environs.
Accordingly, our current portfolio of packages include a range of options such as All-in-Getaway,Suite Memories offer, Gourmet Tales package offers and so on.