Hospitality industry outlook for 2021: Narendra Prabhu, GM, Signature Club Resort

If the government permits international air travel and also relaxes other Covid protocols, we will have good turnout from MICE and international travel, writes Prabhu.


The year 2020 has made the world aware of so many possibilities that many considered never existed other than the fact its diverse effect on many industries and sectors including hospitality. The most talked-about trend that is fast catching up in Resorts & Hotels is Work away from home, where guests experience a completely new and refreshing environment. As most of the corporates have extended WFH till the second half of 2021, this trend will be embraced by most working professionals. This also gives an added advantage for operators to showcase their products and services, which will influence these corporate professionals to choose the same venue for their companies' requirement when things come back to normal.

Another interesting trend that is fast catching up is the 'Day Picnic' experiences where a guest can pre book a picnic experience at their choice of resort or hotel in turn treating themselves with quality time with their family and friends. The package offers customised menus and attractive venues, where guests get to explore serene settings amidst nature. Various Reunions from college to community to work place reunions will be on the rise as well in the coming year. This is the apt time to bring friends, colleagues, and families together and this trend will catch up pretty fast during 2021. Resorts on the outskirts of a city will be a perfect goto place for such get-togethers.

On the other hand, International Travel, MICE and other segments performance will greatly depend on government's approval of international flight operations, until then it is difficult to predict any quantum of output from these segments. Many mega conventions and expos were planned for 2020, which unfortunately have been either cancelled or postponed to 2021 and beyond. Even Air show 2021 is still under scrutiny whether to go ahead or to be scrapped. If the government permits international air travel and also relaxes other Covid protocols, we will have good turnout from these segments. There will be a situation where there will be more demand than supply. With so many restrictions, it will not be easy for organisers or even participating companies to plan or execute any MICE or conventions when planned outcomes cannot be achieved. We all hope for the best and how major corporates and MNC’s will respond post Covid and that turnaround will have a massive effect on industry’s performance in the coming year.

And from the vaccine perspective, if and when one comes with a successful solution, its impact will be magnanimous. It will completely change the entire outlook of the business scenario for every industry. The government will either remove or ease all restrictions that will allow industries to function normally and the public can start planning their routines without any sense of fear or hesitations. Successful vaccines have the power to bring normalcy to our industry as we depend more on human touch and interaction, this also has been our curse during this pandemic, which will be restored if a successful vaccine is invented. Although we cannot expect an immediate response or business outflow from what we had pre-Covid, the Industry will start moving towards better days and many operators will at least start achieving break-even. Unemployment, especially in the hospitality industry will reduce and there will be a good shuffle of skilled work, meaning even smaller hotels will have the luxury of hiring or choice of skilled / educated workforce, previously only branded and group hotels had access to this cluster of manpower.

Permit international air travel, relax, or remove Covid protocols, especially the restrictions they have framed for gatherings. Allow operations of the swimming pool, particularly hotels/ resorts which are located in areas that are less exposed or prone to Covid cases, should be allowed to operate normally. As it’s our industry that has taken the major hit with mortality rate during this pandemic is almost at 75 % and in order to revive and get life back to such drastic & bold steps like these has to be taken by the government.

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