Showing posts with label hotels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hotels. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Revenge travelling is here to stay

I returned back home on 17th Oct. 2020 after a two week business trip across Karnataka. With this, I have completed 9,400 kms of travel by road since 10 Aug. 2020 when I stepped out of home for the first time after a 150-day self-imposed exile, thanks to multiple lockdowns due to the Covid-19 Virus outbreak. The rubber I have burned is mostly self-driven and partially chauffer driven. But for a short trip to visit some of my favourite temples in September, all other trips have been on work. I have met already 80% of my 140-member sales team at Levista Coffee across TN & KA these last two months and as I write this, my Samsonite is gleefully smiling at me for yet another trip that begins Tuesday and thereafter. 


Revenge Travel, as the term has claimed obnoxity in the recent past is here to stay, I guess. If trends are to be believed (and seen personally!), I guess it is so. To begin with, some hard numbers issued by the Oil Industry in India indicate the same. A 1.65% & 1.5% increase in Diesel and Petrol consumption compared to last year, same period. A very small single percentage number of growth but the digits make it look more attractive. For the record, India consumes 3x Diesel to Petrol, noticeably because most of the goods movement in India is by trucks and they are almost 100% Diesel-driven. Due to the surge in work related travel to scores of us and a lack of public transportation, even taxis (mostly diesel consuming ones) are back in demand while a small portion of personal vehicles (like mine) use diesel as well. 


Sale of Petrol grew to 982,000 tons in the first half of October, up from 967,000 tons in the same period in 2019 and 968,000 tons in the first fortnight of Sep. 2020 while Diesel sales rose to 2.65 million tons in the first fortnight of October from 2.43 million tons a year back and 2.13 million tons in the first half of Sep. 2020. With the Navarathri / Dassera / Pujo festivities lined up in the second fortnight of October and a subdued yet enthusiastic Deepavali in the anvil, it seems that fuel consumption is going to continue to rise. 


Another noticeable point is the upward trend in Fastag usages, from Rs. 1,800 Cr. in Feb. 2020 to approx. Rs. 1,700 Cr in Aug. 2020. And this, even as I see fewer vehicles in the dedicated Fastag lanes compared to the “cash lanes” across several Toll Plazas where I have travelled the last two and half months. One obvious negative trend is the dwindling numbers at highway restaurants, cafés and pit-stops. From the nondescript coffee kiosks dotted along the highways to the more organised eating joints, there is a significant drop in numbers, save for a select few which are in high demand due to scarcity of outlets in the vicinity. 




Interestingly, I saw a number of vehicles parked aside the Highways and people eating off plates, perhaps with home-cooked food – a trend which was the “only” way before the driving-down trends began around a decade back. The otherwise famous cafés which witness a huge surge in visitors riding their prized motorcycles or cavalcades of cars with bunches of friends and families is sorely missed, quip restaurant managers and owners.


Hotels that provide lodging are also seeing a growth in occupancy levels albeit still less than 50% of pre-Covid levels which used to hover around 65% on an average but for weekends where select properties were lucky with a full house. I still wonder if the entire room is fully sanitized, linens washed off after every guest departs – not just an expensive affair but also laborious, one reason why I have been cautious about where I retire for the night during my travels. And the F&B areas of these hotels are no different with social distancing of tables and limited numbers of Chairs per table to avoid crowding. Most restaurants avoid Buffet – which has been proven to be one of the fastest ways to spread the dreaded virus, especially with a number of people sharing crockery and cutlery.


As clichéd as it sounds, “Revenge Travel” is here to stay. Only difference is that most of the Tourism business will be Domestic and the Indian Hospitality Industry cannot ask for more.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Covid Vacations

The weekend that went by, we were on vacation. Virtually though, from the confines and comfort of our homes. Wifey opened the home Laptop and on the giant screen, took us through photos of various vacays that we spent as late as until December 2019. This was was the most adventurous as my younger daughter fell off a Pony she was riding atop Nainital viewpoint with no guide beside her even I was trying to apply brakes on my horse without much luck. That she escaped unhurt was nothing short of a miracle. In a previous one at Longhewala, we saw the War-trucks on grand display when India defeated our friendly neighbour as they attempted a midnight attack on our Forces in vain. We undertake 2 long and 2-3 short vacations annually and these are, in my own view a way of giving back to the society. We book Flights / Trains / Cabs providing revenue opportunities for the carriers. We stay at Hotel chains or at Club Mahindra Resorts for free (well, it’s time-share) but end up spending a fortune on food and snacks. But then, Mahindra Holidays manages over 50 resorts and employs 1,000s.


We avoided taking our kids abroad ever since they were born and their maiden trip was only last year to Singapore. Perhaps, this one would remain etched in their minds for their lifetime. Not because it was a “phoren trip” but because of the professionalism and hospitality displayed by the countrymen; the impeccable cleanliness and hygiene standards across the city; the discipline of cab drivers who maintain eye view of the tyres of the vehicle ahead at traffic signals; and of course the Retail Therapy at Malls, Restaurants and Theme Parks. We are getting there (in India) in many areas, but still have a long way to go. The Covid crisis is an opportunity for Domestic Tourism, something that I have been echoing from the time this started. Here’s how.


I foresee (am no Nostradamus, remember!) a huge dip in International Travel on leisure, save for artists in Cinema and arts; Not just in India but globally. This means, savings garnered by avoiding International travel that could be spent elsewhere. Secondly, this is the opportunity for India and Indians to grow Domestic Tourism. To help rebuild a nation, to build our own ecosystem which is so fragile and dependent on Government subsidies almost all the time for everything.


As a family, we have travelled to all borders of India – Longhewala, Nathula and Rameswaram. With limited savings and crores blown on my Entrepreneurial escapades over the past 5 years, all I can offer my kids is a view of things – inside out and from their own lens. I personally believe that this is among the precious gifts I could give them – to see things themselves and appreciate the rich beauty and culture of India. One such adventure was at Tanjore last Summer where we went to the Palace. My daughter had imagined some kind of a Barbie-like Castle. But we had to pay ₹10/- to enter the “complex” not to even find a decent restroom with stinky museum like rooms. This is managed by ASI, sadly. And the general public give scant respect to the monument, even otherwise.


This is not an exception. I can list many. But that’s not the solution. The riches and the Haves are shunning domestic tourism and boarding planes abroad. Nothing that I should comment upon, it’s their prerogative, their money and wish. But, if we don’t take care our own Tourism opportunities, then who else will? I saw Foreigners were going ga-ga during the 8am foggy morning walk at The Taj last December. But down the road were dirty footpath and unhygienic neighbourhoods for all the brouhaha about the city administration. This coating by the Government is not going to help. It’s with us, the citizens to support Domestic Tourism.


Remember, your few thousands of Vacation money will feed hundreds of families for a long time with Travel and Tourism being a long term Industry. I have nothing against PM Cares or CM Funds, but this money is direct benefit to the economy. And one can see results ourselves without complaining in the future that the previous governments looted the public. It’s action time.

Pledge your resources to support and revive Indian Tourism. Am sure We the tourists would benefit the most in times to come, after all. Let me know if you’d like more information about Gurudongmar Lake or Dhanushkodi. Happy to share details.