Manav Thadani, Chairman – Asia Pacific, HVS threw open the 20th edition of HISCA yesterday. In a free-wheeling address to delegates, in the inaugural address in session titled ‘Manav Thadani: Unplugged’, he pointed towards the sea change in the world which has had a direct bearing on the hospitality landscape, aided and catalysed by infusion of technology in our midst.
Calling infusion of technology the biggest change in the marketplace in the past twenty years, Manav Thadani argued that the change caused by technology had created new challenges for the industry to take notice of, and respond to for staying in the game.
“The population has risen in the past twenty years. More importantly, a third of the population in the world today is now online – and this could probably be the single biggest change that we could have in the last twenty years, because how we market and sell, what we do and talk about is all related to this,” he said.
Much had changed in the past twenty years, including the cost of operating a hotel, with newer challenges like addressing security concerns, while incomes had not risen in proportion, he highlighted. “Unfortunately, we have to pay for internet cost which was not there twenty years ago. We have to pay for security that is needed. We did not need that twenty years ago, and also we never thought about the fact that brands will further outsource how to fill rooms and give money to OTAs, and other third party members – which has, in many cases, led to depressed bottomline,” he said.
These changes in the landscape had created anxiety in owners “who were constantly complaining, creating a need for hotel industry to find ways of balancing that relationship, he added.
He asserted that judging the parameters in the past twenty years, the overall picture was not a rosy one for the industry, and the need for course-correction was essential.
He reflected on how hotels had failed in taking the lead in creating new trends, instead following what had been catching on in the marketplace. “We are always followers. The challenge for the industry would be to take the lead in this. There are sectors that have done far better than us and we have not” he said.
Elucidating his argument, he noted that today’s research was bereft of brochures and depended on blogs, while the traditional travel agent had been replaced by online ones, like TripAdvisor.
Taking stock of international footfalls into India, he placed his wager on China, given the lack of adequate direct connectivity between the two countries was addressed by respective governments. “The day we have more flights your hotels will be full. So, as an organisation, whether it is the WTTC, or any other organisation that are right here, we really need to start pushing the government for more flight infrastructure between India and China, and direct flights, not via Singapore, Hong Kong, or anywhere else.”
Adding that while footfalls from the Middle East, USA and Asia was up, the government needed to allocate resources commensurate to gains that the investment was to generate. “We need to know that as well, because the government is still spending money in France, Germany and Japan, and I do not say that you do not spend the money, but we need to see where that business is coming from, and therefore, we need to allocate resources to the right countries,” said Manav Thadani.