Many top hotels are offering free nights, discounts to maintain occupancy Charles Pereira, a marketing professional with a multinational company, was pleasantly surprised when he realised his holiday budget could fetch him a stay in a luxury hotel, instead of the three-star property he opts for every year.
Like Pereira, hundreds of other vacationers are being wooed by premium hotel operators this monsoon season with tempting offers, about 15-20 per cent cheaper than the regular rates.
Monsoon time for hotels is usually the lacklustre interval in a year, when room rates head south. With the hospitality sector still grappling with the impact of a general slowdown, many top hotel operators are offering free nights, discounts and budgetary packages to maintain occupancy.
Hotel Leelaventure, for instance, is offering a stay at its Kovalam property for just Rs 3,300 a night, as part of its monsoon getaway package. This is in addition to enticing offers in its other properties. (see table for details).
Premier companies like Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, Oberoi Hotel & Resorts, ITC Welcome Group and Hyatt are throwing in a free night stay for every stay of at least two or three nights.
Marriott International Inc, meanwhile, is giving Rs 3,000 back to the customer, which could be spent on availing facilities within the hotel like the spa, gymnasium, lunch or dinner, among others.
Trident, at its Cochin property, is charging just Rs 9,500 for a two-night three-day package and if the guest has children, they could be accommodated in a separate room for no extra cost. Hyatt has a similar programme for kids but it charges 50 per cent of the cost of the room at Park Hyatt, Goa.
|Leela||Kovalam||1 night||3,300||Airport transfers|
|ITC||Agra||2 nights||16,000||3rd night free|
|Vivanta by Taj||Goa||2 night||8,400||3rd night free|
|Trident||Cochin||2 nights||9,500||Free room for children|
|Leela||Goa||1 night||4,500||Airport transfers|
|Marriott||Goa||2 nights||8,500||Redemption of Rs 3,000|
Sanjay Pasricha, V-P (sales and marketing), Hotel Leelaventure said, "We have priced our monsoon rates at least 10 per cent below summer prices. Already, our top leisure destinations like Goa and Kovalam are witnessing a 65-75 per cent occupancy. We expect the season to be better than last year."
"The response so far (in terms of advance booking) is good for the monsoon package, with demand arising from mostly young couples, as well as the elderly ones," he added.
Analysts say hotel operators are eager at recovering the loss in business which occurred in the final months of last year, when the terrorist attack in Mumbai led most western countries to declare travel advisories against making trips to India.
This, coupled with the economic turmoil persisting from earlier months, has put substantial pressure on margins of the hotel companies. According to estimates, net profit at almost all the premier hotel companies had halved at the end of the third quarter.
Rajeev Menon, Area V-P (India, Malaysia, Maldives and Pakistan), Marriott International Inc, said: "Revenues of the industry had taken a dip of 20-25 per cent last year, which was a combination of a 10-12 per cent fall in occupancy and 10-20 per cent discount in room rates."
Top listed hotel companies in India are yet to announce their financial results for the previous (final) quarter. Hoteliers, however, are hoping for a turnaround by November, which should ease the pressure on margins.