By Sango Bidani:
The hospitality sector in India has come to play a big part in the economy with a huge chunk of our revenue coming from this particular sector, and then it has been flourishing quite handsomely. However, there is a belief that while it is true that it is a highly profitable sector, there are some serious areas of concern which need to be addressed in the times to come so that the sector can continue to flourish. Through my article, I would like to do a strength, weakness and opportunities analysis of the hospitality sector to give a clearer picture. Also, I would look at how sometimes the customers get it totally wrong and behave unreasonably, and that the customer is not always right.
One of the main reasons why the Indian hospitality sector continues to flourish is because of the cheap prices of everything within the same, be it medical tourism, hotels, restaurants or the cost of travel as compared to other countries in the world. The biggest gain has gone to the medical tourism industry which has been growing at an astonishing pace, with every other day or at least once a month, a news report being published as to how Indian doctors have been able to treat a patient who had been given no hope by their foreign counterparts. The other big plus point of the hospitality sector is the fact that there is so much architectural variety and so much heritage in the country that people from other countries of the world flock to India. We have heard so many Hollywood actresses saying that they love India and its monuments and the way they look after the visitors, and that their favourite place to stay is the Taj Mahal. I think the other reason why the hospitality sector is flourishing is because of the various hotel management courses that have been introduced. These courses have opened up newer avenues for the youth of the country to get involved in and plus there is big money and perhaps most of all, job security. These courses have helped the students understand how they are supposed to interact with foreigners, trained them on how to be diplomatic when they get into trouble among other things.
However, there are some serious flaws in the way the hospitality sector is progressing. One of them is that in a bid to expand at a rapid pace, especially hotels, the infrastructure has become poor and the foresight required in deciding where hotels need to emerge has gone. As a result, for example in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Extension, at least three hotels (Fraser Suites, Hilton and The Double Tree) have been opened which have remained unoccupied ever since their construction was finished. The hotels were apparently built for the purposes of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi but throughout the period, not a single person occupied them. The problem is with the location of the hotels, as in an area which is flourishing with housing societies, nobody wants to go to a hotel. They might as well take a room in a Society if they are planning to stay for a longer period of time or they can go to and stay at a sports Club, where you have decent accommodation at a reasonable price. So, in the bid to expand the popularity of these hotel companies, what they are losing out is on pragmatism and foresight. The second problem that the hospitality sector needs to address is poor quality service across many state run hotels and restaurants. Either there is lack of basic hygiene in some restaurants or the quality of service provided by some is really poor, where you are made to wait for quite a long time, and when you do get the food and you point out some anomaly, they become rude.
Coming to incidents where the customers have got it wrong, the Lemp Brewery case in Gurgaon seems to be a good case in point.Â However, one needs to be cautious in fully exonerating the Lemp Brewery management. The whole problem was with regard to the quality of service provided, which from the point of view of the visitors was not at all up to the mark and on the other hand you have the bad behaviour of the management. Now, on the face of it, you could argue that the visitors had every right in being annoyed at the service provided, but then somewhere I believe they were a bit too impatient and also indecent in their expectations. If the cook is unwell, you have to accept that some of the dishes on the menu that you wished to be served with, will not be served to you. You cannot get mad at the management for a thing like that. Having said this, it is also true that the management also behaved in an irresponsible way, by not being humble enough in accepting their mistake and then to get the police involved in it and try and extract outrageous money was also not fair.
If the Indian Hospitality Sector has to continue to flourish and be the fastest growing sector of the economy, it needs to improve on its service providing, has to develop a much stronger infrastructure base and most importantly, learn to be humble when it has committed a mistake. The other thing that the sector needs to improve on is its ability to keep a tab on problems in the way it is functioning at the present moment and trying to foresee problems that might arise in the future.
Photo Credit: Â© Jorge Royan