Location is the USP of our hotel

Posted On Feb 2, 2014

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Explaining key features of his hotel, Vineet Mishra said, “Our hotel caters primarily to the business travel segment, so all our services, facilities and amenities are designed to suit the requirements of the modern business traveller. Our refreshing lobby is spacious, has a lot of natural lighting and has provisions for guests to work on their laptops/mobile phones.” He further explained, “Our rooms are clutter-free and have access to high-speed internet, an LCD plasma TV, an iPod station, a laptop-sized electronic safe, among other features that enable guests unwind. To help travellers make the most of their time on the road, we also have recreational facilities such as Evviva Sky Lounge our rooftop bar, an outdoor pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center. We also extend outdoor catering services and have dedicated on-site wedding specialists.”

As regards the USP of the hotel, Mishra said, “Our USP is definitely the location. We are located right in the heart of the city and in proximity to the railway station. The airport and the city’s key business districts are a short drive from the hotel. Shopping malls and entertainment hubs are also very well accessible.”

Marriott Pune City Centre has done very well over the past six months. “Our room revenues have grown by 22.7% over last year, our F&B revenues have more than doubled over 2012 and we have seen a manifold increase in the number of social caterings we do. Our Trip Advisor ratings have also gone up – we now feature among the top 10 hotels in the city,” said Mishra.

In 2013, Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre focused a lot on social media and building and strengthening its presence on the digital platform. “Our primary focus was to increase our targeted fan base on Facebook which was driven by our creative and interesting content,” said Mishra. He added, “Through Twitter we took the opportunity to connect and interact with the city’s key influencers and food bloggers. We also heavily focus on PR and consistently participate in food, hospitality and industry stories. We also leverage our relationship with online travel partners. Going forward, we will continue to reinforce these mediums and also focus further on search engine optimization and driving in traffic to our hotel website.”

Every hotel has the basic offerings in terms of rooms and amenities, but what each hotel does over and above this to differentiate itself is what is crucial. “We at Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre believe in giving a personal touch to enhance the guest experience. For instance, F&B offers are customized and meal/diet preferences are monitored for long stay guests,” said Mishra. He added, “We even offer in-room check in and express check out facility to our repeat guests. We are moving towards unconventional ways of conferencing and have started offering theme-based tea/coffee breaks.”

Courtyard by Marriott Pune City Centre is working on upgrading its F&B outlets where it is innovating with its menu and dishes and outlet styling. “Innovative food promotions are being planned out for MoMo Café our all day restaurant and weekly food-and wine-based and music-based properties are in the pipeline for Evviva Sky Lounge,” said Mishra, adding, “Our sales associates are technologically-equipped on their sales calls with tabs to showcase our hotel and pitch for business.” The hotel is also exploring different and creative set-up formats in its banquets to enhance guest experience. “Meetings are going to be of big focus moving forward, using guest feedback, we are working on experiential elements to make meetings more productive,” said Mishra. He added, “We also want to take weddings to a different level – with our on-site wedding specialists, theme based menu offerings and multiple venue options, we personally connect with the guest to ensure they are given a very personalized and tailor-made experience.”

Speaking about the hotel’s distribution channels, Mishra said that the hotel’s biggest distribution channel is property based which involves its sales and reservations team. “We also have the corporate driven Global Distribution System and Marriott.com, and online travel partners like Makemytrip, Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Our main distribution channels among the OTAs are Expedia and Booking.com and among GDSs are Sabre and Galileo. Not many customers even today prefer booking through the hotel website whereas we still see a lot of bookings coming through the OTAs,” said Mishra.

Sharing his assessment of the current hotel market in Pune, Mishra said that Pune has been transformed from a quiet town to a bustling city. The hotel industry witnessed an improvement in occupancy rates in 2011-12 compared to the previous years as per HVS report 2011-2012. This is due to the city housing manufacturing industries especially in the automobile sector as well as the emergence of the IT sector. Also, the hospitality sector has seen a rise in the number of conventions it has to cater to.

Mishra added that Pune has also proven to be a very competitive market for the hospitality industry. In the past five years, the city has seen a staggering growth of over 320% in room supply resulting in a decline in occupancy each year as per HVS report 2011-2012. However hotels are focusing on improving occupancy rates and the forecast for 2013-14 looks positive. As regards the future outlook for the Pune hotel market, Mishra said that Owing to the increasing demand for rooms that was witnessed in the past five years, hotels stepped up their occupancy capacity manifold. “These efforts then led to an over-supply of rooms vis-à-vis the demand, which has proven to be our industry’s biggest challenge. Due to this, there has undeniably been a downward trend observed in pricing. As the growth in supply plateaus, we look at occupancy rates to continue to improve. However, hotels located in the Nagar Road belt will continue to face pressure from over-supply of rooms,” said Mishra.

A major challenge for hotels in the city is that they operate in a very competitive market. “Over the past few years, growth in supply of rooms is especially being witnessed in the industrial belts of the city namely Chakan, Pimpri and Talegaon that are located along the periphery of Pune,” said Mishra. He added that hotels in the city don’t see much of tourists, and there lies an opportunity. “With its rich heritage and Pune being a cultural capital of Maharashtra has potential to become a tourism hub,” said Mishra. “I also think that hotels can fill in the huge hole when it comes to having attractive and quality F&B options in the city.”

“Our hotel has done very well over the past six months. Our room revenues have grown by 22.7% over last year, our F&B revenues have more than doubled over 2012 and we have seen a manifold increase in the number of social caterings we do.”

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