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“The pandemic has taught us many lessons in terms of empathy and patience”

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 17:51 Hrs  [IST]
Asmita Mukherjee | Hyderabad

Although taking the reins of a new property during turbulent times such as this pandemic is not easy, Amandeep Grover, General Manager, Hilton Goa Resort has beautifully weathered the Covid-19 storm. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Grover to understand the challenges and opportunities that he faced during his take over as the General Manager of  Hilton Goa Resort.

You are taking the reins of Hilton Goa Resort, Candolim - Goa at a time when COVID-19 has brought the world to a stand-still. What are the top strategies that you plan to implement to attract travellers?

We opened doors to our property in line with the Government guidelines and after having all safety protocols in place. The current focus remains on providing safe accommodation to all our guests. We have put all the necessary protocols and measures as part of the global initiative of the Hilton CleanStay program for the safety and well-being of our guests. Another focus area for us has also been to build brand connect and create awareness for Hilton Hotels & Resorts. As guests prefer staycations and short-haul trips, we have launched our staycation package with Great Small Breaks that includes complimentary breakfast, resort credit, a unique Goan Masterclass experience, and a 20% discount on food and beverage and laundry. Our F&B selection is also carefully crafted to appeal to the food palette of both domestic and international guests. Having said that, an equal focus is laid down on enhancing the in-room dining experience and offer meals in a unique tiffin concept, while ensuring all protocols of contactless food delivery. All these elements have helped us weather the COVID storm and generate demand for the resort.

Which traveller segment do you intend to focus more on in these trying times?

Travel across all groups is seeing a spike from solo, couples, family etc. However, among these, family travel has seen the sharpest rise. We are also seeing an increase in business travel as people are opting for work from hotels and combining work and leisure. Hence, looking at these trends, we are focused on catering to all kinds of travellers and communicating with all segments meaningfully. 

Do you feel that the launch of a new property in this challenging environment is an advantage? If yes, kindly describe the advantages in detail?

Due to the pandemic, the launch of the resort got delayed and with the changing guidelines and restrictions, it was a challenge to open in a COVID era. We have used this time, laddering up to the launch, to strengthen our training, prioritize guest safety, and put measures to enhance the guest experience. We have also studied consumer behaviour and identified that after being homebound for most of the year, guests are looking for family travel destinations and new experiences that also include staying in new and different properties. This coupled with our unique hilltop location worked to our advantage and added to a successful opening. 

What are the alternate revenue-generating ways that you are contemplating?

Our @YourBalcony experiences have already started to bring in revenues, as it is a unique way of enjoying the activities within the privacy of your rooms. This includes wine tasting, yoga sessions, BBQ, cocktail making, and culinary masterclasses curated by the team at Hilton Goa Resort.

With our F&B outlets we are curating distinctive experiences. We recently launched The Zodiac Brunch (#TZB) which is based on the star sign traits of a person right from food, to beverage to activities that are planned. In Doce which is our charming Café we will be launching the Poder Chronicles which will highlight the age old baker production heritage which is slowly losing its charm and merge them with multi-cuisine offerings.  Coco Lounge & Kitchen will be moving a notch up in April with a totally different vibe for the guests. With our In Room Dining we are bringing back India’s century old food delivery method of the tiffins to our guests in the comfort of their room by providing food in a Dabba (Tiffin). 

According to you, has the domestic hospitality industry started to return to normalcy in terms of occupancy and demand? In your opinion, which lesson was the biggest takeaway for the hospitality industry from the pandemic?
Goa has seen a huge uptick in demand as travellers across the country are looking at Goa as their post lockdown travel destination. That being said the upscale segment in Goa is already seeing a recovery trend. Also with international travel yet to pick up we foresee this demand to remain strong throughout this year. But the full potential will only be realized when international tourism resumes. 

The pandemic has taught us many lessons in terms of empathy and patience and encouraged us to look at adversities into opportunities. The industry has resolved to innovative measures to cater to the evolved demands and expectations of guests in the COVID era. Foremost being the increased responsibility towards ensuring guest safety and introducing the highest standard of safety and sanitization protocols along with cognizant social distancing measures.

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