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Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Hotels pin hopes on big fat weddings to turn a corner

  • Hotels are offering virtual assistance in wedding planning, with packages costing 1.5-30 lakh a day
  • Clients have started booking domestic hotels with the latter offering wedding packages and related services

NEW DELHI : Luxury hotels emerging from months of pandemic restrictions are offering wedding packages and related services, with latest rules allowing gatherings of up to 100 people.

With no sign of international borders opening, destination wedding clients have also started booking domestic hotels. Typically, the wedding segment contributes 10% to a hotel’s overall revenue. The focus is now on quality of service, rather than the number of guests. Hotels are offering virtual assistance in wedding planning personalizing decor, food menu and gifts, starting with packages from 1.5-30 lakh a day. Many customers are also seeking assistance to live-stream the wedding ceremony for those who cannot attend.

The Taj group of hotels has introduced electronic concierge to digitally assist guests with wedding planning. It includes virtual visits of hotels and locations along with video consultations with spa and beauty specialists for brides and grooms. It also offers to assist guests with private charters for easy pre- and post-wedding travel through a partnership with Vistara and other airlines. Taj is reputed for hosting luxurious royal-themed weddings at its Rambagh Palace, Jaipur and Umaid Bhawan, Jodhpur.

Renu Basu, senior vice-president, global sales and marketing at Indian Hotels Co. Ltd, the operator of the Taj hotels chain, said the number of wedding bookings has not reduced, just the size is less.

“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.

Beginning June, 60-70 weddings, related events and social functions were hosted between The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa, a company executive said.

“Though on a smaller scale, but we are surely seeing a 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, New Delhi is also offering a complimentary staycation for newly married couples as and when they like at 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, and have 11 more events booked for the next quarter. Pullman New Delhi Aerocity has received more than 65 queries/show-rounds in the last three weeks for October to December 2020.

Radisson Group said demand is steadily increasing as big weddings that used to go to farms/banquets have been trimmed and demand is moving towards hotels. Rajasthan and Agra properties have already received about 25 weddings for the upcoming season starting October 2020.

“The number of bookings will be higher than in 2019, but the number of pax will be lower and hence lower revenue. In Agra, Radisson group has 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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