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Chennai star hotels play pricing tactical game for business
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"The booking window is just one-and-half days. There are no bookings for one week in advance. So, it is tactical game now amongst the hoteliers. Pricing is the only deciding factor amongst the travellers and we see to that we are not outpriced," Prakash Jayadevan, General Manager, 167-room Trident Hotel part of the Oberoi Group told IANS.

He said it was Trident that first came out with the promotion of giving the guest a sum equivalent to the room rent for availing other services - food and beverage, Spa, laundry, business centre- during the stay and several other properties followed suit.

According to Jayadevan, guests who are members of loyalty schemes would choose to stay in those properties as they can add redeemable points.

While price is the deciding factor, starved of business, star hotels that used to serve the business segment are now looking at social events, weddings.

Star hotels in and around Chennai can be classified as city properties, those located in OMR, East Coast Road (ECR) and those located in the industrial belt.

"The business for the city properties have increased. The hotels have an occupancy of about 35 per cent. Similarly, the properties on the ECR are also doing well during the weekends and weddings as most of them are beach resorts. The properties located in the industrial belt area like Oragadam, Sriperumbudur and others are also seeing uptrend in business," Gaurav Ganapathy, Director of Sales at Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road another star hotel part of the French hospitality chain Accor told IANS.

But with the IT sector shifting to work from home, the business for several star hotels -about 18 - located on the OMR stretch got severely affected and the properties are reorienting themselves to cater for other segments like weddings, social events.

"Apart from banquet revenues, weddings will result in room bookings," Sunil Tandon, General Manager, Turyaa Chennai, a five-star business hotel told IANS.

The 140-room Turyaa part of the Sri Lankan hospitality group Aitken Spence group is located on the OMR and was primarily catering to the information technology (IT) sector during pre-Covid period. It derived nearly 70-75 per cent of its business from that segment.

"We consciously stayed away from the Covid-19 quarantine business as we thought it may affect our brand equity at a later date. In order to keep the hotel kitchen and the rooms humming we started looking at other segments like social events, weddings," Tandon said.

Tandon said within the wedding segment, Turyaa is looking at the Marwadi weddings and the property offers one of its kitchens for the wedding party as they bring their own cook.

"We have done four Marwadi weddings this season and 5-6 more weddings are in the pipeline," Tandon said.

According to him, discounts are offered on the food and beverage and plans are to launch authentic Tamil Nadu Thali instead of buffet.

"During the pandemic period, buffet can be unhygienic. But a Thali served on the table is much better," Tandon said. That aside, the food waste can also be reduced.

He said apart from pricing, brand, hygiene/cleanliness protocol are also factors that decide a guest checking into a property.

"From November onwards the business has picked up. We are seeing revival happening. The focus for us is the automobile sector. Officials of electronics sector are also travelling. Some foreigners are also flying in," Rahul Nama, General Manager, Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur told IANS.

The 100-room property Mercure, part of French group Accor is located in the Sriperumbudur-Oragadam industrial area.

According to Nama, there is 30 per cent discount on the room rate and the property's food attraction will be the 25-dish non-vegetarian feast Kari Virundhu.

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