IHCL creates many ‘firsts’ for alternative revenues | Daily News


 

IHCL creates many ‘firsts’ for alternative revenues

Congratulates govt. for steps taken to combat COVID-19:

Indian Hotel Company Limited (IHCL) in Sri Lanka represented by three hotels, Taj Samudra Colombo, Vivanta Colombo Airport Garden and Taj Bentota Resort and Spa have undertaken multiple opportune measures to keep the revenue flowing while safeguarding the interests of its associates, Pankaj Sampat, Area Director – TAL & TSL and General Manager - Taj Samudra Colombo said. He has been at the helm of operations on the island since January 2019.

“Firstly I wish to congratulate the government for proactive steps taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently with great caution and responsibility, restricting the Corona infected patients under 2,000 mark with negligible fatalities.”

“Since April 30, 2020 there has been no positive case that got reported in the community and for this the citizens of Sri Lankan deserve commendation for supporting the government in maintaining the discipline during lockdown and following the guidelines prescribed by the health authorities.”

“Also people did not hesitate to forgo celebrations of important festivals like Avurudu, Easter, Vesak, Poson and Eid, which facilitated the lockdown to be relaxed earlier than many countries; that are still grappling with the pandemic.”

Pankaj said that during the lockdown, the downtime was effectively utilised to brainstorm along with leadership team at IHCL over a series of online meetings, resulting in several ‘firsts’ in the Sri Lankan hospitality industry with a positive intent to create alternative revenues sources in order to manage cash flows.

He also said that across the group ‘Tajness - A Commitment Re-strengthened’ was launched with detailed SOPs and training modules that the hotel associates underwent to meet the demands of the new normal.

Several capital investments for refurbishment and renovation which was planned earlier are now deferred due to the current situation.

“I am positive that these steps that we have undertaken will support the cash flow, which under these circumstances is extremely crucial and the need of the hour for us to meet our obligations. As Puneet Chhatwal our Managing Director and CEO says, it is survival for now, then revival and finally thrival. We all are positive that we will overcome this challenge together and things will surely improve going forward.”

Taj Samudra continued to operate during the lockdown as the hotel’s priority was to manage guests who could not travel back home due to the closure of international skies. Despite the stringent guidelines we were committed to ensure our guests are made to ‘feel at home’ and experience the ‘Tajness’ during the lockdown in the country.

The operations at Taj Bentota Resort and Spa was minimised as it was impractical to operate this sprawling hotel with its landscapes on low occupancies. “However, Vivanta Colombo Airport Garden hotel was kept operational with the consent of the owners Hirdaramani and Advani. The hotel has been catering to crews and corporates and has an average occupancy of 30 rooms each night.”

The Taj Hotels in Sri Lanka were the first to have launched ‘Staycation’ packages for the island dwellers and the idea was to pamper themselves as they were stuck at home, managing their daily household chores.

“Simultaneously, following the health guidelines, we have just opened The Taj Bentota Resort & Spa to domestic travellers with special promotional packages that offer a great value to the guests. The response to the same has been overwhelming - it even beats our own estimates.”

Another first is our contactless buffets which are in line with the health guidelines ‘smart menus’ which is absolutely contactless where the food is served through all interactive stations at the ‘Ports of call’. This has not only resulted in ‘zero wastage’ but more importantly cooked a’ la minute to the guest’s choice.

Commenting on the global tourism, he opined that the travel and tourism is the worst hit industry due to this pandemic. It has come to a complete standstill with the international airport shut and travel restrictions being imposed by most countries, resulting in shutting down of hotels, restaurants and airlines leading to large scale staff retrenchment across the hospitality sector.

“As per my estimate, it would take around 12- 18 months for the industry to recover as ‘travel’ would not be among the top agenda of people’s priorities. However, if a vaccine gets formulated anytime soon, this may be definitely quicker.”

“For now, we are excited that the government is upbeat on resuming tourism in the country from August 1, 2020 and we appreciate the policies being rolled out and measures taken to facilitate tourist arrivals. We are looking forward to welcoming the foreign tourists once again as the airport opens under the new health guidelines.”

Pankaj is a veteran in the hospitality industry counting over 27 years with IHCL, started his journey in 1993 at the flagship hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. He has held multiple roles in the Food & Beverage function, hotel administration and was the pre-opening General Manager of Taj Santacruz prior to this.

South Asia’s largest hospitality company, incorporated by the founder of the Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata, the Company opened its first hotel - The Taj Mahal Palace, in Bombay in 1903. IHCL has a portfolio of 200 hotels including 42 under development globally across 4 continents, 12 countries and in over 100 locations. It is primarily listed on the BSE and NSE the leading stock exchanges in India.

 


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