Heritage, and much more!

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Realtors turning hoteliers is the trend now, says HRH Group’s V-P Jasmeet Chowdhary

Though conscious of the fact that the element of existence for HRH Group of Hotels is heritage, Jasmeet Chowdhary, its Vice President – Sales & Marketing, says that every segment is important for the Group.  In a chat with Realty & More Editor Palash Roy, she said that today’s discerning traveller wants the best of facilities and the hotels coming under the HRH umbrella offer these in abundance. Proud of the fact that HRH is the original heritage hotels group because it is run by the royal family itself, Choudhary informed us that it is also the pioneer in destination wedding segment in Udaipur. Besides sharing details about HRH Group properties, the seasoned hospitality professional also talked at length about the industry scenario and its future prospects. An interesting aspect she highlighted was that the reason why hotels are mushrooming everywhere in the last two years is because the real estate has gone down and everybody thinks it is currently the best place to invest and create a hotel. The real estate owners are now becoming hoteliers and that, according to her, is the trend today.

Palash Roy: What are the current trends in hospitality industry?

Jasmeet Chowdhary: There is a lot of supply happening. Occupancy is increasing year-on-year but the percentage of loyalty rates ADR is not increasing to that level and that’s a little sad. Everybody is in panic situation since when more rooms are available the people think that we should bring down the rates to make the occupancy level higher. But in the long run it may damage the whole scenario where the average room rate (ARR) would go down and, off course, when occupancy is going up the ARR also goes up. If you look at the average room rate, it’s not really gone up as compared to the occupancy. It’s how one would want to do it— whether you want to go the occupancy route or you want to go average ADR route it all depends on how a hotel would want to move ahead.

 

PR: Since when have the ARRs not increased?

JC: It’s not that ARRs are not increasing but they are not increasing in comparison to the occupancy level or in comparison to the supply that is being added year-on-year. So today if you look at the luxury hotels or maybe the lowest budget hotels, they are quite stagnant but that is making good money is the upscale and the midmarket. If you look at the future trend, almost 54 per cent hotels would be added as per the reports you get from Industry. The addition is only happening in the mid-segment, primarily because that’s where the growth is there today.

 

PR: At what rate the industry is growing in terms of revenue?

JC: The industry alone is adding close to 9.4 per cent to the GDP of the country and so, I think, it’s a major contributor. The hospitality sector cannot be ignored since it’s a major contributor to the growth of the country.

  • The industry alone is adding close to 9.4 per cent to the GDP of the country. The hospitality sector cannot be ignored since it’s a major contributor to the growth of the country.
  • HRH Hotels comprises heritage hotels in Rajasthan, primarily in Udaipur and we have close to 340+ (plus) rooms. All the hotels put together, there are total 10 heritage properties under the HRH Group of Hotels.
  • We have kind of held the heritage and we are moving forward with the heritage. We proudly say that come and experience the original heritage with us and we want to do what we are doing the best.
  • You cannot say that we are a heritage hotel property and so we cannot have a flat screen in our room or we cannot have a touchscreen telephone in the room or a bathtub or shower cubical in bathroom.
  • Today the people living in cosmopolitan cities want to go to Udaipur to experience the culture, experience the heritage and bring about the same experience to their children.
  • Apart from heritage, we make you feel very homely and our services are like they make you feel home away from home. The other thing that I would like to emphasise upon is the food and beverages.

PR: How much do the real estate prices impact the hospitality sector?

JC: Overall if you are talking about the initial investment, it does impact and for the first five years it did impact because the return on investment (RoI) is on what you have invested. That’s the reason in the last two years hotels are mushrooming everywhere because the real estate has gone down and everybody thinks it is currently the best place to invest and create a hotel. The real estate owners are now becoming hoteliers and that’s the trend today.

 

PR: At HRH Group of Hotels, how many properties do you have and what is the number of rooms?

JC: HRH Hotels comprises heritage hotels in Rajasthan, primarily in Udaipur and we have close to 340+ (plus) rooms. All the hotels put together, there are total 10 heritage properties under the HRH Group of Hotels. There is Fateh Prakash Palace, Shiv Nivas Palace, Garden Hotel, Shikarbadi, Jagmandir Island Palace  – all five of these in Udaipur itself and then we have one hotel in Kumbhalgarh and then we have one hotel in Ranakpur and we have got two properties in Bikaner and one in Jaisalmer. These all combine to form a set of 10 hotels. Jagmandir Island Palace is more a wedding destination in the middle of the lake.  HRH could take credit of pioneering the wedding to the city of Udaipur because it was the first one to start destination weddings at Jagmandir.  A lot of brands which didn’t believe in taking on to the wedding segment are also accepting today and they are moving forward with this segment big time.

 

PR: What has been the growth of HRH in comparison to the industry growth?

JC: HRH Group of Hotels is a heritage group of hotels and we tell the people we are the original heritage hotels group because it is run by the royal family itself. We have kind of held the heritage and we are moving forward with the heritage. We proudly say that come and experience the original heritage with us and we want to do what we are doing the best possible in today’s scenario.

 

PR: What are your growth plans? How are you planning to increase your growth?

JC: We are a group of heritage hotels and we want to be and stay with the heritage very much. In fact the element of our existence is heritage and we don’t want to do away with it, but yes, in today’s scenario every discerning traveller wants the best of facilities. You cannot say that we are a heritage hotel property and so we cannot have a flat screen in our room or that we are heritage hotel so we cannot have a touchscreen telephone in the room or a bathtub or shower cubical in bathroom. The people who are travelling are definitely travelling to the heritage property yet they expect everything to be there. For example, if you look at the Fateh Prakash Palace Hote, it’s a heritage hotel but very-very forward looking. Rooms are renovated and the suites and the bathroom size everything is there to match with the expectations of the luxury traveller of today.

 

PR: What is your marketing strategy which would help you garner more revenue?

JC: As a sales and marketing person, I always say that every segment is important. There are hotels focused on every segment, may be MICE or wedding segment, but I say that inbound is equally important. Today the domestic has become very important. Today the spending power of a domestic traveller is much more than that of a lot of other travellers and they want to experience the best. Today the people living in cosmopolitan cities want to go to Udaipur to experience the culture, experience the heritage and bring about the same experience to their children, because today the children are left only with the gadgets. I feel every segment becomes very important and wedding is very-very important segment. In fact, it’s a key segment for us and we are the pioneers in this segment. We definitely want to take it up to the next level. MICE is also an important segment because we have beautiful rooms and the Durbar Hall which are part of our Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel. Both these places together become very good MICE menu altogether. Both these hotels put together we can offer about 100 rooms in a city like Udaipur. So, definitely inbound is important and for me all the segments are important. Today everybody is online and they want to book online and so today there is no segment that is not important.

 

PR: Would you want to list any other USP of HRH?

JC: Yes apart from heritage, we make you feel very homely and our services are like they make you feel home away from home. The other thing that I would like to emphasise upon is the food and beverages. We are the best in the city of Udaipur. I think today nobody can doubt our food and beverages. Not only the local cuisine but our chefs are the best and they hold expertise in all sorts of national and international cuisines. Everything here is the best- you have to experience and you will get to know this. Everything is just awesome!