LOCKDOWN SPECIAL: Hospitality's New Normal with DIGVIJAY JHALA
The tourism industry is facing an unprecedented challenge due to the ongoing pandemic. Apart from airplanes being grounded and hotels being shut, the tourism industry has been affected in auxiliary ways as well, since it is the single largest generator of multiple occupations across the world. Many have speculated as to whether the hotel industry will normalise, or whether it will be compelled to adapt to a new normal.
For example, would a hotel’s welcome ritual replace its arti, tika and garlanding with hand sanitisers, masks and infrared thermometers forever? Endless speculations float around while we still grope in the dark to uncover what the actuality will definitively resemble. To be fair, the precariousness of the current situation calls for us all to restlessly speculate until the future arrives and reveals itself.
Amongst those speculations, here is how I envision the new normal to be for the hospitality industry : -
Entering foreign countries would require testing and providing health proofs at a basic level. This in turn would facilitate a rise in domestic travel.
Properties with smaller inventories, such as home stays will have an edge over larger hotels because of a more efficient turn around time, as well as more effective sanitisation.
Most home stays and owner-run properties have their hosts residing within the premises. This ensures that hygiene, safety and sanitation are micro managed with a personalised supervision.
Given that public modes of transport carry a greater change of infection, travellers are expected to prefer personal vehicles for leisure travel. This in turn is likely to provide an increase to road trips to neighbouring areas.
Outbound tourism is rapidly increasing, especially from states like Gujarat. With this pool diverted to inbound travel, it could feed business to its neighbouring states.
The ecosystem has been given time to rejuvenate itself. The lowered rate of environmentally-damaging activities such as overconsumption will temporarily prevent overcrowding at sanctuaries and parks. This might help revive wildlife and ecological balances.
Experience-based tourism that focuses on localised interactions is also likely to be on the rise to fill in for the vacuum created by international inaccessibility.
In order to expand travel opportunities based on these new norms, my company, Shaurya Hospitality has curated an inventory of bespoke boutique hotels that are smaller in size with an optimum inventory to fulfil the needs of the hour. The destinations in my list are situated away from crowded hubs and have sourced their staff locally. They are also kept in-house and receive optimum training to effectively cope with the threats posed by COVID-19 through appropriate sanitisation and hygiene upkeep. Moreover, organic and locally-sourced food produce further minimises food-borne contaminations due to a smaller handling of the same. This incentive of mine ensures that we gear up to welcome a new rise in the industry through important changes commanded by the times that we live in. While adhering to new norms in our myriad practices of the trade, we excitedly anticipate the arrival of guests who are willing to join us in creating a more responsible and safe travel experience.
Go local, sustain, preserve, prevent and promote is our new mantra.
Digvijay Jhala is the founder of Shaurya Hospitality, and lives in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Content courtesy: Digvijay Jhala
Image courtesy: Digvijay Jhala & Shutterstock