Taking personalised and collaborative approach along with creating relevant marketing content helps in capturing the changing demand drivers. Shibil Malik, General Manager, Sheraton Grand Bangalore, in an interaction with TTJ, shares more on the strategies to withstand and manage the pandemic crisis by working out effective solutions to the ever-changing hotel functioning and customer needs.
– Prashant Nayak
At Sheraton Grand Bangalore, the hotel occupancies seem to be gradually improving after the recent onslaught of the second wave of this pandemic. It has more than doubled and they are near about touching the 50 per cent mark. It seems that their guests seem to be a lot more assured and confident with the hygiene measures deployed at the hotel and in fact have been eagerly waiting to return.
“Year-long lockdowns have created a pent-up demand and we experienced the same trend soon after wave one too. We are exactly in the same phase now. Last years’ experience made us undergo changes very rapidly that normally would unfold over multiple years. We innovated rapidly and were also forced to adapt to keep our hotels in business. The transition was much easier this year as we were just beginning to come back to some kind of normalcy. The hotel team coped better this year and was better prepared to deal with the onslaught for the second time. We were quick to pick up from the learnings of last year and were able to improvise on our strategies for both revenue generation and opting for more ingenious ways to control costs,’ briefs Malik on current hotel occupancy status.
Speaking of revenue drivers that their property has adopted to stay afloat, Malik says, “The most remarkable revenue driver at our property, in my opinion, was our team’s adaptability and resilience towards the regularly changing scenarios. We launched and effectively advertised various new offerings in the market like the all-inclusive ‘Intimate wedding package’, catering to forty guests or less, which was a huge hit among the city audience. This package was among many other offerings which would be amended very regularly based on changing government guidelines.”
Their team has also rolled out various all-inclusive room offers at the hotel, which includes the ‘Staycation’ & ‘Self Isolation packages’. Their staycation package currently is the most in-demand with inclusions ranging from Early check-in and Late check-out, In-room movie experience, an exclusive kids zone, evening hi-tea, inclusive of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, kids up to 12 years dine and stay for free while guests earn bonus Marriott Bonvoy points per stay. With Marriott Bonvoy On Wheels, the hotel’s F&B offerings reached out to a variety of audiences, helping the hotel with an incredible stream of revenue generation.
Malik is of the opinion that the challenge to quickly and accurately capture the change in customer demand and to innovate and personalise a customer experience will continue. “We must recognise the new segments of business that have emerged as opportunities during this pandemic and try to invest in and nurture them. The post COVID traveller is now more tech-savvy than before, as going contactless is the new norm. This has changed the rules of engagement and has provided us with an opportunity to leverage technology far better than before and customise our offering at various touchpoints in the guest journey,’’ explains Malik.
Sheraton Grand Bangalore’s marketing strategy since the pandemic has been planned out in a very phased manner, the highlight of which through all phases being their stringent hygiene and safety measures. The spread of the virus led to an unparalleled need to adapt to the ‘New Normal’. This not only meant improvising 360° on how they communicate with their customers but also focusing on how unique their offerings are during these trying times. Over the months, internally their teams have evolved immeasurably to face the challenge together.
“Our campaigns are a lot more personalised. The strategy at the very initial stages of the pandemic was shifted to winning our customer’s trust with respect to hygiene and safety standards adopted by our property and also hotel experiences delivered safely to your doorstep. This was showcased by creating a series of visual content showcasing our current safety measures, boosted heavily on Social media platforms to our target audience, giving us great visibility. We also collaborated with various influencers in the city to help us amplify the outreach of our campaigns. All the printed collaterals were shifted online or converted into QR code-linked creatives. Be it in room collaterals or the menus displayed at the restaurants, everything has been digitized,” concludes Malik.