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EnviroCon: Beyond the Echo-chambers

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 14:22 Hrs  [IST]

EnviroCon', in case you don't know, is Environmental Consciousness.

It is more than primped and perfumed netas, in their designer clothes, wielding their store-fresh Bunker Brooms, on sanitised roads, on which Production Managers have scattered picture-perfect autumn leaves for the superbly-composed Photo-Op. That's a long and intricate sentence to describe a long and intricate cat-and-mouse game fought between those who fatten-on-the-job and those who bear the brunt of their cupidity.

This is a growing reality that our netas have not woken up to. Trump, pouting in an infantile way against the truth, still believes that his bluster can obscure the galloping Cancer of the Amazon fires devouring America. Similarly, many of our home-grown netas seem to believe that Bollywood razzmatazz can obscure the midnight anguish of Aarey, the grief of mothers with starving children, or the laser-incisive of words of an Indian Nobel Laureate.

In this depressing scenario, our Hospitality Industry emerges as a shining beacon.

Our old acquaintance, Niranjan Khatri, was a trail-blazer. As the Green Guardian of his Group he used the wealth generated by the pernicious leaf to project an EnviroCon image of their hotels. That was a major PR success story which remains largely unrecognised. In Kerala, our brilliant, phlegmatic, friend, Jose Dominic, broke the Waste-is-Luxury, image crassly cultivated by others, and successfully marketed a desirable down-to-earth profile of his CGH Earth. He and his brothers did this, against all odds, in a state once known more for its strikes and disturbances than for its serenity and desirability.

And now we are happy to find that another friend, Param Kanampilly, is bounding ahead to make the EnviroCon image of a hotel as desirable as a Star Rating.

In hindsight, this was inevitable. Hospitality's compulsive rush to offer more and still more hire-a-dream ostentation, with a burgeoning of faux Palaces and Forts, was doomed to failure. It exacerbated the Haves vs Have Nots divide. Steve Jobs, with his Indian orientation, hastened the process when he packed the computing power of a main-frame into a hand-held iPhone. It made knowledge accessible to all, blasting barriers of time, space, age and social status. It shrunk, and is still shrinking, the world. The questing traveller, uprooted from home, seeks the reassurance of a either a cosseting environment, or the challenge of an alien one like a hotel carved out of ice. The need to be cosseted is, by far, the greater compulsion. Thanks, however, to the increasing global consciousness of the Digital Age, today's traveller wants it with the minimum damage to the self-regulating systems of the natural world.

But how does a prospective hotelier or a stand-alone one, acquire the expertise to achieve such eco-friendly standards while still managing a viable property?

The Kannampillys' Concept Hospitality, and Fern Group offer, such hospitality entrepreneurs, need-designed, in-house based, and centrally guided administrative systems, to address these problems.. The group does not own the hotels, they guide them.

Clearly, this is an idea whose time has come. Param Kannampilly's managed properties come in three categories. A Fern Hotel is a five-star one, certified by the Central Tourism Authorities. Stepping down a notch or two are the four and three-star Fern Residency Hotels. Finally, there are the smart budget properties, down to two-star, Beacon Hotels. Other brands are being finalised.

We have been assured that Param's organisation has systems in place to ensure that "environment sensitive procedures are followed in operations". It is not just a question of long-distance supervision: which is the sort of eyewash that serves no purpose! So, unless a hotelier is really serious about his environmental concerns, he should not consider joining the Fern Brand. Clearly, however, it pays to do so because though the brand was launched in 2009 with 6 hotels, it now operates 66 hotels in 46 locations and is hoping to sign up 100 hotels by 2020. It also plans to expand into South-East Asia, targeting destinations where Indian travellers like to go. Interestingly, it started its Brand Loyalty programme two years ago and now has 82,000 members. Furthermore, when it started in 1996 it was Concept Hospitality and then it cloned Fern Hotels in 2009.

With that, it's over to you!

(The Views expressed within this column are the opinion of the authors, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication)

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