KB Kachru, Chairman Emeritus & Principal Advisor, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group

As we move into the ‘new normal’ and hotels steadily reopen for business, the expectations for innovative customer experience is higher than ever and the hospitality veteran KB Kachru, Chairman Emeritus & Principal Advisor, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, couldn’t agree more. In this insightful guest column, Kachru pens down how consumers are demanding enhanced stay experience going forward and how the hotels are leveraging the benefits of bringing in innovation to serve them. From hybrid travel model to tech-driven personalised communications, implementing sustainable practices to use of smart equipments, Kachru suggests the leading-edge innovations that the hospitality sector can put into action in the post-COVID to accelerate the revival process

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention” and the hospitality industry has proved it right. Hoteliers all over the world acted quickly to mitigate the compounding impactof the pandemic by reducing touch points and other measures until given the green signalto reopen. Complying with and adapting to shifting consumer behaviours will be criticalto the hospitality sector’s revival. To gain and sustain customer trust, hotel operators need to adapt quickly to meet the new-age consumer demands. Simultaneously, hoteliers needto optimize their operational efficiency and adaptability while taking into consideration all contingencies in the hospitality business.

Modern hotels in the hospitality industry have recognized the benefits of innovation and have already implemented automated hotel management systems. This allows them to make the most of their employees, services, and facilities to boost their business productivity while improving the overall experience of hotel guests.

Bleisure travellers & co-workspaces

While the last two years have drastically changed the hospitality landscape, the emergence of hybrid travel as a major trend is an exciting opportunity for properties to regain momentum and expand the idea of what their best guest looks like. When courting hybrid travel guests, it’s important to think beyond the single, remote-working traveller. For Bleisure travel in particular, many of these guests bring a spouse or the whole family along to upgrade the business trip to a family getaway. By embracing these travellers and making tweaks to already existing processes, you can create the one-of-a-kind experiences that bring thoseguests back for future visits and transform them into loyal advocates for your brand.

Tech-driven personalization

Touchless technology and innovations have been helping hoteliers to successfully transform ineffective and disengaged processes into workflows that are completely advanced, centralized, streamlined, and seamlessly integrated. Hoteliers are more productive because of the use of automated systems, which makes it easier for them to facilitate their routine, repetitive work. While this digital technology emphasis continues to persist, it results in a constant rise

in the hospitality market. It is enlightening to see how our hospitality industry is moving swiftly and staying focused on understanding and quantifying the operating and economic impact on their operations.

Sustainable travel

Sustainable travel is a fast-growing trend inthe industry as increased number of travellers is aware of the environmental consequencesof their travel habits. Today’s travellers, restaurant patrons, hotel bookers and shoppers care about sustainability. They want to know that the companies they give their business to follow environmentally, socially, and culturally sound practices. An overwhelming majority of millennials and Gen Z travellers will pay more for products and services that don’t harm the environment, deplete natural resources, or negatively affect the lives of people or wildlife. The industry has been quick to respond to these changes and is progressively turning ‘green’ by reducing their environmentalimpact through best practices in maintenance, services, logistics, products, and supplies. The core elements revolve around reducing waste, saving energy, and cutting down on water usage. Hotels around the world are rolling out a plethora of green initiatives like smart showers, solar power installations and waste diversion to cater to the evolved consumer.

Expense optimization

Utilities are indisputably an expensive endeavour in the hospitality space. Higher spending and unsustainable practices deplete profit margins and jeopardize the property’s financial health and long-term viability. With technological implementation such as smart equipment and smart sensors, the hospitality industry is quickly streamlining operations, optimizing costs through real-time tracking, and timely interventions in case of any challenges. From machines to food trays, the use of innovative technology can assist in managing assets and inventories in real-time, all of which improve the visitor experience.

In a nutshell:

Consumers today expect a hassle-free,efficient and convenient experience, and with their ever-changing expectations, creating exceptional customer service is an area where all brands can innovate. So, the hospitality industry is well on its way to revolutionizing the way it operates and caters to customers with its innovative approach.

About the Author: An experienced hand in the hospitality, K.B. Kachruhas not only brought the global chain to India two decades ago but also built it into one of the leading hotel companies in the country. Kachru has been instrumental in building the business in India since 1998 and has succeeded by pioneering growth in metro cities and later venturing into tier II and III locations. KB Kachru was previously Chairman, South Asia of the Group. Prior to that, he served as executive vice president, responsible for the overall strategy, hotel development, management and functional support of key markets within South Asia, overseeing Radisson Hotel Group’s joint venture companies in India. He is an active member of various Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Committees at the state and national level. He is presently a member of Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) National Tourism Committee and Vice President of Hotel Association of India (HAI) and a proud recipient of various prestigious accolades.