It does not get better, location-wise. THE Park New Delhi sits on a prime central Delhi real estate and continues to remain a serious contender of business in the Delhi hospitality market. As the hotel group celebrated fifty years of its existence, we caught up with Rohit Arora, Area General Manager, and the face of the hotel for decades now, to understand the road ahead, challenges in operation and what was making the business work. Excerpts from a free-wheeling interview at THE Park New Delhi:
These are interesting times for hotels in Delhi. Occupancy rates have gone up and there is a general sense of optimism in the market on the rate front. The market is under an upswing, so to speak. Among the important sub-markets within the city’s hospitality market, the central Delhi region certainly packs a punch. There are around a dozen-odd hotel in the three, four and five-star segments, providing a wide range of accommodation options. It is a highly-competitive ecosystem where hotels are vying for a share of the footfalls, largely leisure in nature. Most hotels have had some impact on their businesses with the slow albeit a steady rise of Aerocity. The Taj Hotels has acquired The Connaught, further intensifying the competition.
Hotels are coming up with ingenious ways to retain their clientele, offering them tailor-made experiences. Among the few that have stood their ground, both in terms of business and longevity, is THE Park New Delhi. Incidentally, the Kolkata-headquartered hotel group recently completed fifty years of operations.
The central Delhi market favourably placed
Rohit Arora exuded confidence on the road ahead, calling the central-Delhi market “very competitive” in nature. However, he added in the same breath that it was a “good, healthy competition”. “Each hotel competes for their share of the business. The kind of location which we have remains unmatched,” he explained. He also attributed the continued good-run of THE Park New Delhi to a gamut of relationships the hotel had nurtured with the clientele and the industry over the years. “I think it has played a very big role in ensuring a successful run for us,” he reflected. He also had a word of praise for the hotel’s sales and marketing team which had aided the hotel in maintaining a healthy occupancy and average daily rate.
Speaking on the intricacies of the distribution channels, Rohit Arora told us that the hotel had managed to cultivate “a healthy balance” between the traditional (industry associations and relationships) and new-age drivers, such as the OTAs and hotel’s own online platform, to drive footfalls. “We handle a very high number of corporate business travellers during the weekdays and we are also, I must say, one of the top accounts for the leisure segment as well,” he shared, providing more insight into the market trends in the Central Delhi ecosystem. He told us that travellers from the USA and UK formed a vast majority of the leisure numbers, whereas numerous contracts with companies were fuelling their corporate numbers. “We have several contracts with oil companies, PSUs, such as Indian Oil and ONGC, among others. We are also very strong with the UN bodies wherein we host patrons and also events,” he told us. He further stressed that the presence of government agencies, ministries and defence bodies was a huge business opportunity and unique to the central Delhi hotel business.
He maintained that fostering relationships had remained integral to THE Park’s outreach, sharing that a group of ladies from The UK had been travelling to India, each year, and the hotel had been hosting 8-9 such groups consistently.
He suggested that India needed to focus on highlighting some positive news too, as the country had continued to grapple with the problem of being labelled as unsafe for women travellers. He argued that “as a hotel industry professional”, he believed that there needed to be some antidote to such business-hampering developments. While he conceded that there were some concerns around women safety, there were also “several positive developments” and pondered why such developments received little or no press coverage. When asked whether the decline in numbers of single woman travellers was far too evident, he noted that the segment aside, the family travel segment had also seen a dip in numbers. “Families are not very comfortable travelling with their kids. Having said so, people who are travelling are travelling for sure,” Rohit Arora said.
Food and experiences integral to THE Park’s offerings
Sharing more specifics on the business matrix, he told us that as much as 40 per cent of the hotel’s business came from the F&B segment. “In terms of the food business, I do not think that any other hotel capitalises the way we do. We have a big event on Karva Chauth – which is a traditional Indian festival. These are some of the things that we do, especially keeping with local traditions and guests in mind,” he elucidated. THE Park Hotel also featured some of the best nightclubs in the capital and were “milestones in their own right,” he added. “A revolution in the food segment has been our effort to provide organic food. It has been our focus for the last three and a half, four years,” he described. He shared that the hotel now offered organic food in tune of over 95 per cent of their all their offerings and had done so by harnessing direct associations with the farmers.
The hunger for local experiences, as a trend, has been growing at a pulsating rate. THE Park, too, was curating such experiences for guests. “Farmers come from long-distances to display their produce. The experience is open to the public, not only to hotel guests,” he shared, indicating that such an initiative had aided in curating an authentic experience and the charm of a quintessential Indian bazaar.
On room rate and more
Given that the tourist season was underway, average room rates were expected to be in the range of 140-170 USD, Rohit Arora told us. He insisted that a cocktail of several factors ensured that the hotel was favourably poised in terms of occupancies but rates usually kept fluctuating. “Particularly for all the Delhi hotels, rates are going to go up now from the existing levels,” he forecasted. He told us that a pleasant weather would improve leisure numbers, also driving a larger share of conferences into the city, ultimately boosting the coffers of hotels across the capital.
He believed that despite the new launches in the vicinity, with The Taj too in the fray, the supply was going to be absorbed by the growing demand. “Take a look at the Aerocity. The entire supply has been absorbed and a not a single hotel in this part of the city (read central Delhi) has been affected,” he asserted.