Nichlas John Maratos, Vice President – Commercial, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, shared in an interview with Travel Trade Journal, his belief that the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic presented growth opportunities for the hospitality industry. Dusit Hotels and Resorts has implemented several changes to its operations to provide better guest experiences, including embracing technology to support front desk clerks and other staff, social media and influencer marketing, and sustainability initiatives. The company has identified four pillars that they focus on, which include personalised service, locality, wellness, and sustainability. Maratos expects Dusit Hotels and Resorts to reach pre-COVID levels by the end of 2023.
– Vartik Sethi
Dusit Hotels and Resorts plans to double the number of hotels in the next few years and expand worldwide. The hospitality group is committed to sustainability and supporting local communities. Nichlas John Maratos joined Dusit Hotels and Resorts because he was impressed by its reputation for delivering Thai hospitality, which is renowned the world over. Maratos also recognised that the company’s growth strategy would be an exciting challenge for him to be part of.
The global hospitality industry has faced many challenges, especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maratos, however, sees these challenges as opportunities for growth. “I see technology playing a supportive role in the hospitality industry, enabling us to provide better guest experiences by taking away menial tasks and allowing more time for interaction,” said Maratos. However, he does not see technology as a replacement for human interaction but rather as a tool that can enhance the guest experience. Dusit Hotels and Resorts has embraced technology in its operations, and Maratos believes that it has the potential to support front desk clerks and other staff, enabling them to spend more time interacting with guests.
Social media and influencer marketing are also an important part of Dusit Hotels and Resorts’ marketing strategy. The company recognises that digital marketing is becoming increasingly important and that social media and influencer marketing are essential components of that strategy. While artificial intelligence is still in its early stages in the hospitality industry, Maratos sees the potential for it to play a role in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the hospitality industry, but Maratos is optimistic about Dusit Hotels and Resorts’ recovery. He shared the company’s aim for the year 2023 by stating, “The response to COVID has been challenging, but we are seeing recovery in many markets, with our aim being to reach pre-COVID levels by 2023.”
According to Maratos, Dusit Hotels and Resorts has spent a lot of time during the pandemic thinking about how they want to reposition themselves in the hospitality arena. They have identified four different pillars that they focus on, which they call their ‘Graciousness Pillars.’ These pillars include personalised service, locality, wellness, and sustainability. Maratos explains that these pillars play out in different ways, with personalised service being a key pillar for them.
Being a smaller hotel company, Dusit has the opportunity to know its customers a lot better and personalise what they offer them. This allows them to provide a unique experience to their guests, based on their individual needs. The second pillar, locality, is about providing guests with an experience that is unique to the location they are visiting. Maratos explains that when people are visiting a location like the Maldives, they are looking for a Maldivian experience that may have a service offering from Thailand, but they don’t want Thailand replicated. The challenge is to bring that offering and experience alive for guests.
The third pillar, wellness, has become even more critical in the post-COVID era. Maratos believes that it is not just about offering spa treatments but weaving wellness into the whole guest experience. Whether attending a conference or an overnight stay, it should be more of a wellness experience than a hotel experience with a spa. The fourth pillar, sustainability, is an area that Dusit Hotels and Resorts takes very seriously. They partner with Thai farmers to grow organic jasmine rice and buy it directly from them, educating them on how to grow rice, market it, and package it. By cutting out the middlemen and storage that happens in distribution, they support the farmers directly and pay them more, while guests benefit from great quality rice.
Dusit Hotels and Resorts also uses solar energy in many of its properties, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. According to Maratos, customer feedback is crucial to hospitality, and Dusit Hotels and Resorts pays a lot of attention to it. He shared, “We see hospitality as someone being invited to our home and making sure they spend a good time with us.” Understanding customers’ needs is critical, and staying engaged with customers helps them adapt their services accordingly.
Maratos sees technology as a significant and exciting development in the hospitality sector. He cites facial recognition technology as an example of how technology is taking the administration out of transactions to give staff more time to interact with customers and give them a great experience. The growth of the middle class in countries like China and India also presents significant opportunities. He added, “I think Asia’s a growing market that offers great opportunities.” Dusit Hotels and Resorts plans to double the number of hotels in the next few years and may grow further, with many deals under discussion.
In terms of future goals, Maratos says that Dusit Hotels and Resorts aims to get back to 2019 numbers, which they expect to achieve soon. They plan to open more hotels this year than ever before, with two in Nepal, one in Shimla, one in Kolkata, and more deals under discussion. They have also opened their first hotel in Europe in Greece and re-entered Nairobi. Two new hotels are coming up in Bangkok, and they continue to sign new deals all the time.
Dusit Hotels and Resorts expresses its deep appreciation and utmost regard for Indian travellers, whose patronage and support have been instrumental in propelling the brand forward. In turn, Maratos stated that Dusit is honored to have earned the admiration and trust of Indian travellers, who have come to appreciate the warm and gracious hospitality that is emblematic of the Dusit experience, be it through a luxurious stay or a culinary escapade.
The shared affinity between Dusit and Indian travellers is anchored on a profound connection that transcends geographic borders. With discerning tastes and an appreciation for excellence, Indian travellers have consistently demonstrated a keen understanding of the brand and its unique proposition, whether in Thailand or elsewhere.
As such, the relationship between Dusit Hotels and Resorts and Indian travellers is symbiotic in nature, one that is characterised by a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s values and preferences. Maratos said, “Dusit appreciates and values Indian travellers, and equally, Indian travellers appreciate Dusit and what it offers. They truly appreciate Thai hospitality, whether that’s a stay or a food experience that creates a strong connection with Indian travellers. Whether it’s in Thailand or elsewhere, many Indian travellers understand what the Dusit brand represents and what it offers. As a result, we have a great symbiotic relationship between Indian travellers and Dusit.”