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Weddings, no doubt, have been driving revenue and helping in the gradual recovery in hotel business.
Weddings, no doubt, have been driving revenue and helping in the gradual recovery in hotel business.

Hotels look to weddings to revive fortunes amid pandemic

  • Latching on to the demand while adhering to social distancing norms, hotels are offering virtual assistance in pre-planning of weddings and customising decor, menu, gifts, with packages starting at 1.5 lakh a day, and going upwards of 30 lakh

NEW DELHI: Once lavish affairs, Indian weddings have now become intimate events with focus on quality over quantity. It is a segment that pandemic-hit hotels are pinning their hopes on, praying for a revival in their fortunes as bookings witness a steady uptick especially with the government allowing up to 100 people to attend social gatherings under Unlock 4 guidelines.

With no clarity on resumption of international tourism, destination wedding clients have also trained their eyes on domestic hotels. Wedding segment, on an average, contributes 10% to a hotel's overall revenue.

Latching on to the demand while adhering to social distancing norms, hotels are offering virtual assistance in pre-planning of weddings and customising decor, food menu and gifts, with packages starting at 1.5 lakh a day which could go upwards of 30 lakh. Hotels are also being asked to organise live streaming of the wedding ceremony for guests not in attendance because of restrictions.

Known for luxurious royal-themed weddings across properties such as Rambagh Palace, Jaipur and Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur, IHCL-owned Taj group of hotels, for instance, has introduced e-concierge to digitally assist guests with pre-planning the wedding. It includes virtual visits of hotels and locations along with video consultations, with spa and beauty specialists for brides and grooms. It also offers help with organising private charters through a partnership with Vistara and other airlines.

Renu Basu, senior vice-president, global sales and marketing at IHCL, said that recent trends show that the number of wedding bookings haven’t slowed down, just the size has reduced.

“Delhi, for instance, has booked over a dozen weddings in the last two weeks. Other cities receiving similar interest are Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Agra. Apart from that our hotels in serene locations like Corbett and Rishikesh have hosted quite a few small-sized weddings with a huge interest in Rishikesh," she added.

Weddings, no doubt, have been driving revenue and helping in the gradual recovery in hotel business. From June till August, 60-70 weddings and related events and functions have been hosted in The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa.

“Though on a smaller scale, but we are surely seeing recovery in bookings and enquiries for the wedding season in November and December, and the months ahead look promising," said Rahul Puri, multi property general manager – The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa.

The Westin Gurgaon is also offering a complimentary staycation for newly married couple as and when they like at The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa and vice versa.

French hospitality firm Accor owned hotel brands have also leveraged this segment. Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre (NHCC) and Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) hosted 14 weddings and related events since it reopened on 8 June. Along with 11 more confirmed events on the books for the next quarter. Pullman New Delhi Aerocity has received more than 65 queries/show-rounds in the last three weeks for Q4 2020.

Radisson Group said demand has been rising as big weddings, with farmhouses and banquets as venue, have been shifting to hotels. Rajasthan and Agra properties have received about 25 wedding bookings for the upcoming season starting October .

"The number of bookings will be higher than 2019 but the number of pax will be lower and hence lower revenue. In Agra, Radisson group have done 40% of their total business from socials in the last three months and moving forward we would see a similar trend," said a spokesperson from the hospitality chain.

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