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The industry will bounce back

By Geeta A Sundrani

Geeta A Sundrani

The Indian hotel industry is witnessing a double whammy. Hotel occupancies have dipped by nearly 50 per cent in the past few months, triggering a fall in tariffs. Perhaps, the next year’s Commonwealth Games will revive the battered industry.

This is a worldwide phenomenon Britain has started offering free food and major discounts to attract customers. The offer of free food is premised on the belief that customers except students would be too embarrassed not to leave behind money after a meal.

As a promotional campaign, international budget hotel brand Ibis in Singapore is offering guests the chance to pay what they deem right. Guests can log onto to put up a price they want to pay for a limited time each day.

In short, financial, retail, IT, airlines, travel and tourism including hotels have been badly hit. There have been layoffs. Hotels are cutting down on outsourced staff. The employees directly employed by the hotel on contracts remain untouched. Further, most of the five-star hotels are hiring (if they are hiring) operation staff on direct contract, which may also reduce the union issue to an extent.

Most hotels have frozen recruitments and increments, and are trying to curb overhead expenses. To attract business, they are lowering room rates and throwing in attractive offers to boost F&B sales. Yet, hospitality professionals may be relieved to know the expansion plans of some hotels:

  • The Hilton family of hotels will have 50 hotels in India by 2015. Of these, 20 are in various stages of development, with three (in Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru) slated to open in 2009. These will be business and mid-market hotels and will flash brand names like Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton.
  • US-based US$ 30 billion Carlson Group, which has four different hotel brands – Country Inns & Suites, Park Inn and Park Plaza, Radisson and Regent – is looking at the Indian market aggressively. The group plans to open 52 new hotels across the country with more than 6,000 rooms.
  • US major, Marriott International plans to triple its portfolio in India by 2012 to cash in on the growing business and leisure travel in the country. The company will open seven hotels across the country in 2009.
  • Starwood website lists its new openings:

The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace (Opening July 1, 2009)
The Westin Mumbai Garden City (Opening October 1, 2009)
The Westin Pune Koregaon Park (Opening July 1, 2009)
Sheraton Visakhapatnam Seaview Resort (Opening October 1, 2010)
Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway (Opening April 1, 2010)
aloft Ahmedabad, SG Road (Opening April 1, 2010)
aloft Chennai, OMR-Sholinganallur (Opening January 1, 2010)
aloft Bangalore, Whitefield (Opening April 1, 2010)
The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat (Opening January 1, 2011)
The Westin Jaipur Infotech City (Opening April 1, 2011).

  • Hotel Leela Venture is to set up three new hotels in India, Udaipur, Chennai and New Delhi.

Cruise line executives present a surprisingly rosy outlook. They cite the product’s tremendous value at a low price as the main reason for optimism. People will be looking for more value for their money – on an average cruises are about 20 to 50 per cent cheaper than comparable land-based vacations.

With cruise ships now positioned around the globe, cruise lines have further insulated themselves from the US economic woes. Executives also hinted at Asia as the next big destination. Singapore, Taiwan and Korea have announced new cruise terminals anticipating the growth. Wherever there is population and water, there is a chance to set sail.

Opportunities galore

For any job opportunity assessing your skills, education and previous job experience will help you narrow down what positions you as an individual are uniquely qualified for. Tailormake a resume that highlights your unique personal and professional qualities. Also it is important that you highlight how you personally would enhance the guest/passenger experience.

You can consult a recruitment agent to work on your behalf or apply directly to the organisation of your choice. Consulting a recruitment agency is typically a better method. The recruitment agency will pre-screen you, decide what position you are most qualified for, prepare you for your interview and then present you as a qualified candidate to an interested hotel or cruise line that is hiring. Applying for positions on your own can be complex. If you don’t know who is responsible for hiring, your resume may get lost and never even be reviewed by the correct individual.

Hotel management institutes usually approach hotels for campus recruitment or one may directly apply. For middle and senior management positions in hotels, reference plays an important role. Usually management gets in touch with people whom they have earlier interacted and for niche profiles recruitment consultants are the ones that are trusted.

Landing a job within the cruise industry can be difficult, but it is by no standards impossible. The industry has expanded rapidly and new ships are setting sail every year. Though getting hired with a cruise line entails more leg work and the process can be more lengthy than that of an average job. Going abroad this time may not be ideal as employees are getting lesser amount per hour. Midlevel managers who are looking for jobs abroad have to come with an immigration visa for suitable opportunity.

The industry being cyclical in nature will surely bounce back. This will also augur well for the wine industry which depends heavily on room occupancies and footfalls in restaurants. Hotel expansion plans would therefore be welcome to wine producers and importers alike.

The writer is director, Oasis Human Resources

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