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Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

Wedding bookings at hotels, resorts witness uptick

  • Owing to physical distancing, hotels and resorts across categories are offering virtual assistance in pre-planning of the wedding and personalisation in decor, food menu and invites

NEW DELHI : With government allowing up to 200 people to attend social gatherings under recent onlock guidelines, hotels and resorts have witnessed an average of 30-50% increase in month-on-month bookings for intimate weddings in November and December. Owing to physical distancing, hotels and resorts across categories are offering virtual assistance in pre-planning of the wedding and personalisation in decor, food menu and invites with packages starting from 1.5-3 lakh a day which can go upwards of 20 lakh.

"...once the lockdown was relaxed and our hotels started reopening, we noticed that the first segment that regained momentum was weddings. We do expect this trend to carry on in the coming months," said Arif Patel, regional vice president – sales & marketing, Hyatt India. "Our hotel luxury resort property Alila Fort Bishangarh (Jaipur) specifically is getting plenty of leads for intimate luxury weddings. In terms of properties with multiple banqueting spaces, they are now able to accommodate two or more weddings for the same dates considering the average number of guests have reduced."

To boost demand, Hyatt is offering guests World of Hyatt Bonus Points that are valid till December 31, 2022. They can be redeemed through the World of Hyatt account towards free nights at any Hyatt Hotels & Resorts locations worldwide.

Typically, the wedding segment contributes 10% to a hotel’s overall revenue. However, with restricted international travel and most companies resorting to work from home, wedding bookings emerged as on one of the key drivers for revenues for hospitality firms apart from workcation/staycation which does not offer high margins.

A recent study conducted by online marketplace of venues and wedding professionals The Knot Worldwide said that wedding ceremony cancellations in India will remain low with 76% of couples going ahead with the chosen dates. However, the country also sees the highest cancellation of wedding receptions compared to other countries as per the findings of the survey which measured pandemic impact on weddings scheduled from October 2020 through February 2021.

"We found that budgets were going down only by 25% (40% anticipated their budget to be 25%, or lower than what they had originally planned) owing to the fact that the number of guests at the weddings was restricted due to government guidelines. Now with recent revisions seen in relaxing the number of attendees, we expect budgets to increase," said Ankur Sarawagi, country head, India at The Knot Worldwide.

Pandemic has also led to the emergence of 'micro-weddings' as a trend which is picking up over the past few months with hotels becoming a one-stop shop for all wedding related arrangements. The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, an entity of Chalet Hotels, said that it offers all-inclusive package right from décor, musicians to arranging the honeymoon suite, bridal rooms, salon services, transportation to gourmet F&B solutions like customized mithai boxes.

Parag Sawhney, general manager at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace that the last decade has seen its average cover price soar. “But now the size of the celebration has substantially shrunk with guests still keen on having intimate celebrations. We have also observed a demand for pre and post wedding shoots for which we offer our atrium lobby, F&B outlets, pool area and lawns etc," he said.

Most hotels are offering either discounted rates or clubbing additional services in the packages. Taj group of hotels has introduced e-concierge to digitally assist with pre-planning the wedding including virtual visits of hotels. The demand for wedding bookings is particularly strong in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Jaipur.

Pride Group of Hotels, which operates a chain of hotels across metros as well as tier I and II cities, said it is witnessing an uptick for November/December wedding bookings. When compared to the last three months, the chain claimed that the increase in bookings is 100% while year on year for the same period it will be around 40-50%.

"We are seeing a significant trend in preference shifts for outdoor spaces. Many people are going for a poolside or an open-air arrangement. To ensure your dream wedding becomes a reality, the Pride Group has associated with a financial institution to facilitate loan services as well," said Atul Upadhyay, Vice President Operations, Pride Hotels Ltd.

Meanwhile, Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd increased its location spread indicating that guests are willing to explore new and drive-to destinations that are safe and unique. While the chain claimed that the bookings for weddings between November to March have already exceeded the last year's figures the group size per wedding has reduced.

"In some resorts like Puri, Jaipur, Guruvayur, Palavelli Godavari, Mussoorie, Goa the contribution of weddings towards our overall revenue is up to 35% and is growing steadily," said Vikram Lalvani, chief of sales, revenue and destinations at Sterling Holiday Resorts Limited.

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