As weddings get leaner, mid-scale and luxury hotels see room for growth

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on December 13, 2020

With curbs on social gatherings and safety concerns, people are flocking to trusted names in the hospitality sector

It was the peak Covid time in Kerala. The daily number of fresh coronavirus cases crossed the 2,000-mark for the first time in August. When the Nazer family fixed the Nikah (marriage) ceremony of their daughter on August 19, little would they have imagined that their own area in Ernakulam will come under the Covid-19 containment zone.

“At that point of time, safety of the couple as well as our invitees were the top-most priority for us,” Nourin Nazer, a management graduate, said while recalling her sister’s wedding ceremony.

The Nazers hosted the reception at the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, a luxurious resort overlooking the backwaters of Vembanad Lake. “It was the best decision. We were fully relieved of the safety aspect and also got a great deal, including complimentary room stays, membership and discounts,” she added.

Safety concerns

The Naser family was not alone. With the restriction on social gatherings on one side and the fear of crowding and safety concerns over marriage halls on the other, many people are preferring to host the wedding ceremonies in midscale and luxury hotels, which are known for their world-class safety and hygiene practices.

“We are seeing a huge amount of traction in the wedding space. The growth we saw in October and November across all our hotels is mostly from this segment,” Nipun Vig, VP - Operations, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, said, adding, “the business ratio of rooms to Food and Beverage (F&B) in most of our hotels used to be 50-60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively; but in November, the ratio of room revenue is lesser than the F&B revenue by virtue of weddings.”

The hotel chain, which manages over 90 hotels in 55 destinations across India and overseas, re-opened 71 hotels in August. Since then, it has seen its occupancy level go up from 22 per cent to 37 per cent as of November. Currently, all the 94 hotels of Sarovar in India are fully operational.

Zubin Songadwala, Area Manager South & GM, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, also said that luxury hotel chains are witnessing a good amount of traction in wedding business.

“The marriage segment is one of the first one to gain traction and pick up after the lockdown was lifted because the marriage dates are absolutely sacrosanct and people don’t want to postpone,” Songadwala said, adding, “also, people now have the opportunity to be able to host a grand event to a limited number of people at a good five-star hotel.”

Occupancy rate rises

In its recent report, hospitality consulting and transaction advisory firm HVS Anarock said that room occupancy at hotels as of October nearly trebled to cross the 30 per cent mark for the first time since April, following the resumption of leisure travel and the start of the wedding season.

“In the last few weeks, the Indian hotels sector has started to witness green shoots of recovery driven by the growth of leisure tourism and the onset of the festival and wedding season,” Mandeep Lamba, President (South Asia), HVS Anarock, wrote in a recent blog, adding, “In the absence of corporate travel, most branded hotels were relying on the upcoming wedding and holiday season in most part to bridge their revenue shortfall.”

With international flights yet to resume fully, luxury hotels and resorts are also looking to take advantage of the situation by attracting their affluent customers to host ‘destination weddings’ at exotic locations within the country.

Published on December 13, 2020

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