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Slowdown: Hotels bank on IPL packages

By Sapna Agarwal in Mumbai
April 30, 2009 12:10 IST
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Prominent luxury hotel groups like JW Mariott, Royal Orchid, Taj and Intercontinental are using the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament to offer promotional food and beverage (F&B) packages to lure more customers in a sluggish economy.

F&B is integral to the hotel business, accounting for up to 30-40 per cent of overall revenue for many. However, over the last six months, luxury hotels have seen a fall in occupancy for rooms and tables, besides shrinking consumer spending. The hotels are hoping that these discounted packages being branded as reasonable, celebratory or
value-for-money  do the trick.

Royal Orchid Hotels, for instance, is offering various promotional activities across its 12 properties for IPL. The offers include special discounted rates on select drinks like buy one beer, get one beer free.

Likewise, Celebratory Prices is the offer at Taj Mahal Palace & Towers Starboard and Vista. The South Mumbai luxury hotel is offering, at Rs 1,250 per person, five pints of beer with snacks for the 5 pm match. The evening package of Rs 2,000 includes beer-snacks-and-buffet-dinner and large screens to watch the match.

Royal Orchid Hotels also has prizes for guessing the man-of-the-match, upon which the winner gets a free stay at one of their properties, including other prizes. Cheerleaders also perform live near a large screen displaying the match.

We are in the midst of a slowdown and people are conscious of their spends and propensity to save, said Faiek Saadani, director food and beverage, J W Marriott. Saadani has launched value offers in which, at reasonable spends of Rs 300-350 per person besides a cover charge of Rs 500, customers can watch the match on LCD screens, get entertained by a DJ, order from a newly introduced a la carte menu and win surprise gifts and raffles.

The occupancies at hotels year-on-year is down 20-30 per cent, said Deep Kalra, founder and chief executive officer, and added, During the peak season of Christmas/New Year, it was worse.

Compared to a year ago, even restaurant table occupancy is lower. Says SP Jain, chairman, Pride Hotel, and president of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India: There has been a drop of 25-30 per cent in footfalls in restaurants of most luxury and fine-dining hotels. Also, the per-table bill is significantly lower than what it used to be a year ago.

Romil Ratra, general manager, Intercontinental, explains that hoteliers are catering to the perception that people want more value for money. The focus today is the price.

(Additional reporting: Swaraj Baggonkar)
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Sapna Agarwal in Mumbai
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