Variety

Sterling Holiday Resorts thinks innovative to woo customers

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on July 02, 2021

Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman and Managing Director, Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd

To introduce restro bars focussing on dishes and cocktails synonymous with that destination.

Sterling Holiday Resorts is set to add at least 500 rooms this fiscal year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also open a new concept called ‘Sterling Local’ restro bars at its resorts to serve local cuisines and cocktails. To tide through the lull of the pandemic, the holiday company has braced itself with a strong distribution strategy.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Ramesh Ramanathan, CMD, Sterling Holiday Resorts Limited, said the company had been utilising the lockdown time to think of innovative ways to cut costs and get customers back to their resorts.

Currently, the company has a network of at least 2,400 rooms across India. “For the fiscal, we plan to add at least 500 rooms, which takes us close to 3,000 rooms.”

The holiday company has gradually shifted its model from being a sole membership-based company to a mixed model with 50 per cent Members and 50 per cent Hotel Guests and from owning / leasing resorts to also taking up management contracts. Currently, at least 20 per cent of the rooms of Sterling are through Management Contracts. Most of the room addition for the fiscal will be through Management Contracts, taking it to at least 30% of the total rooms.

Restro bar

Speaking about its strategy to combat the losses, Sterling has decided to introduce an interesting concept of a local restro bar across its resorts in India. Basically, ‘Sterling Local’ will focus on dishes and cocktails synonymous with that destination.

For example, Ramanathan explained: “Goa is often known for its Fenny. However, it also has another local alcohol called Mahua. Our aim is to get people introduced to the local cultures, cuisines and palette.” Sterling has piloted Sterling Local at its Ooty-Elk Hill resort. It will soon introduce Sterling Local at all its resorts in India.

The company is also investing money in local marketing activities-both online and offline. Last fiscal Sterlings marketing budget had become nil.

Distribution channel

However, to lure customers back to the resorts, Sterling will be investing at least 20 per cent of its marketing budget compared to the previous year. However, the aim, according to Ramanathan, will be on measures taken by Sterling to make sure their customers feel safe while they are at the resorts. On the backend, Sterling has also strengthened its distribution channel. Sterling has at least 40 per cent of its inventory sold via OTAs and offline travel companies. Earlier, Sterling was associated with 20 such companies. Now, “We have expanded our reach to at least 85-100 such tour operators. Basically, at the time of making a tour package they would select rooms at Sterling which are offered to them at a fixed price.”

The other half of the revenues come from members who have purchased a long term, 25-year or 10-year membership.

The company is optimistic that it will be able to achieve its goal for the fiscal. However, Ramanathan did not disclose the number of members it targets for the year.

Published on July 02, 2021

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