From free salons to discounted room rates, hotels are offering it all, reports Shally Seth Mohile.
With research showing that 70 per cent of Indian travellers will be more price-conscious when planning a holiday, hotels are offering discounted rates, complimentary salon and spa treatments, exotic gastronomical delights and anything else that can persuade customers to make a booking.
A study titled Future of Travel by Booking.com found that 64 per cent of those surveyed were looking for special promotions, discounted tariffs and attractive packages.
As a result, even large luxury hotel chains, hit hard owing to their dependence on business travellers, are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring in the punters to help make up for pandemic-related losses.
Earlier this month, ITC launched a '100 per cent back' offer, under which guests can receive the full amount as hotel credits that can be instantly redeemed for services including food, beverages and spa treatments.
The offer is available across more than 15 ITC Hotels and Welcomhotels at over 10 destinations and is valid till March 31, 2021.
The special scheme, said Anil Chadha, ITC COO, will feed the growing sentiment around 'getting away' that the lockdown and pandemic confinement have created.
"Many people are looking for safe ways to restore some semblance of normal life. Activities that were postponed due to the lockdown are now being revived," said Chadha.
Those who check into any of the Indian Hotel Company's brands such as the Taj, Vivanta or Ginger can enjoy an upgradation to the next category, a complimentary breakfast, one meal, a daily hotel credit and a 20 per cent discount on the spa and salon.
Ritu Mehrotra, country manager, Booking.com, says that given future travel trends, her company is "promoting domestic travel offers in India with discounts on accommodation bookings as well as last minute and early booker deals to bring the best possible value to customers".
To be sure, most of the offers are confined to city hotels heavily dependent on the business segment which has yet to see a revival.
Depending on the event flow on a particular day and the location of the property, the rates could be as low as Rs 4,700 per night.
At Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, guests can get a second night at 50 per cent rate at its hotels in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Gurgaon, New Delhi and Kolkata.
At the Kolkata property, customers can book a deluxe room for a night at discounted price of Rs 4,875 against the earlier Rs 6,500 and get the second night at half the discounted price paid for the first.
“Prior to the pandemic, the business hotels were the top performers. Now they are the worst as business travel remains restricted,” said Nandivardhan Jain, founder and CEO, Noesis Capital.
French hospitality major Accor, which operates hotels under the Pullman and Novotel brands in India, is offering flat discounts on bookings.
As part of its 'For the Love of Celebrations' offer, guests can enjoy a flat 30 per cent discount on bookings and a Rs 500 meal voucher.
Loyalty members get even more freebies such as breakfast thrown in and triple 'All Reward Points'.
The booking period ends on December 17 for stays till March 31, 2021.
“We have been receiving multiple queries for the holiday season regarding dinners as well as stays.
"Every brand has different offers depending on the location and the interest from patrons. Mostly, it is on par to previous years,” said Kerrie Hannaford, vice president, commercial, Accor India and South Asia.
With all these special offers, it's no surprise that hotels in Goa, Jaipur, and Hrishikesh are all booked for the upcoming holiday season.
A spokesperson at The Indian Hotels Company said Goa has been the most popular destination followed by Rajasthan and Kerala. Accor's Hannaford also said leisure destinations have seen lot of traction.
Other than Haridwar, which hasn't seen any pick up at all, all the other destinations where Leisure Hotels has properties have seen a strong demand, said director Vibhas Prasad.
Leisure Hotels has 10 properties in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The demand has been driven by weddings, which accounted for a third of the bookings.
In fact, Prasad expects Christmas and the New Year to be better than last year as the yield (which includes room rate plus food and beverages) at the properties has been better.
It is expected to improve further and be 20 per cent higher than last December, he said.
Prasad attributes the increase to 'a better profile' of guests who typically would have been going abroad for a vacation but are homebound this year because of the pandemic and travel restrictions.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com