Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Tourism makes for 6.8% of India’s GDP and the government has big plans to expand this share. The country has 30 world heritage sites, 25 bio-geographical zones, 7,517 kilometers of coastline for leisure travelers and rapidly growing cities for business travelers as well. The current government wishes to develop a number of tourism zones and the mid-market hotel industry is gearing up to tap into this growth.

Even though the country drew just seven million foreign tourists 2013, and is ranked 42nd in world tourist arrivals, the Indian government continues to focus largely on international tourists. In an attempt to boost the number of international arrivals, the government recently introduced a policy of ‘visa on arrival’ for travelers from 43 countries. This is additional to the 13 countries which were initially eligible. It is hoped this will increase earnings for the third largest foreign exchange earner in the country.

ImageBut foreign travelers are susceptible to the vagaries of more complex aspects like political situations, diseases and government advisories. A case in point is the tiny state of Goa located on the west coast of India. This state has seen many waves of international travelers. In the 90’s it was the Germans, later it was the Brits and more recently the Russians. The industry however was hard hit this year when 400 or so Russian charter flights were cancelled due to the political instability in the country and devaluation of the ruble. Now the Goa tourism industry is actually evaluating the idea of changing focus and marketing to newer feeder destinations not affected by economic slowdown and political instability like China, Singapore and Australia. But while governments chase foreign exchange, could they be ignoring a significantly large domestic feeder market that is better positioned to boost the tourism industry?

Discovering the Domestic Tourism Market

India has a billion domestic travelers and 600 million of them are millennials (twice the population of the United States!). Millennials is that population of young Turks between the ages of 18 and 34 years. This population segment is well-documented for their likes, dislikes and bold tastes, especially with reference to the travel and hospitality industry.

The advantage of tapping into this sizable Indian travel population is obvious; we do away with the punishing vagaries of international events, and grow the tourism industry on domestic revenue. The ripple effect would be circling right within the large boundaries of India.

Preparing for the Indian Millennials

But getting the hospitality industry in India to cater to the domestic leisure traveler would require a fair bit of reorientation. This is because domestic tourists are looked upon as price conscious, almost like budget tourist. The Indian hospitality industry also needs to better understand their millennial guests before effectively catering to their needs.

The Indian millennials have an ongoing love affair with their mobile phone, which is swiftly being upgraded to a smartphone. They are hungry for information and social interaction. But being rural India has a mobile internet penetration of less than 10%. This is an excellent growth opportunity that the tourism industry can tap in and cash on to.

Millennials are confident, have strong leadership traits, are technology savvy, love to travel especially to exotic places, are always on the lookout for a wow experience, are demanding of high quality personalized services, loud about their opinions- so make sure they are always happy, and have the spending power to meet their whims.

Serving the millennial guest requires panache, finesse and of course technology. It is here that hospitality, the ‘people and service’ centric industry could face a hurdle. The hospitality industry has historically been a laggard at adopting technology, but with their potential guest tapping away on their smart phone and tab, they hardly have a choice.

New Age Technologies for New Age Guests

Technologies like mobile, cloud, and social media can enable the hospitality industry to transition from a reactive to a proactive service provider and attend to their guest in a real-time and personalized manner. For example, imagine your front desk staff greeting a person by name and letting them know that the hotel is currently hosting a Kerala food festival even though the guest has checked into your hotel for the first time. Well there are solutions being made available that gathers information on your guest after the reservation, this information is made available to your front desk staff, and voila, you are not only building loyalty before the guest has even entered their room, but upselling as well.

Now, there are also mobile apps that allow hotels to check-in a guest even as they are on their way from the airport, or check them out while walking them to their cab.  Many large hotel chains already have apps that allow guests to interact with the hotel by making requests or ordering services. But technology is being democratized rapidly, and now, you don’t have to be a large five star hotel to access mobile, cloud and social media technologies, these are being made available to independent, mid-sized and small hotels as well. Planned as plug and play solutions, digital technologies are allowing hotels to not only leverage the internet, but also the sizable in-house database of guest information to create a comprehensive guest profile and take service to a new level of personalization for the millennials. Is your hotel ready for the big change?

2014 in Review!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Come December and every industry eagerly awaits predicted trends for the coming year;

The hospitality industry is no different and has its own set of trends, those that will significantly influence the industry in the year to come, and those that hoteliers need to watch out for.

Top Tech Predictions to Influence Hospitality in 2015As a hospitality technology company, at IDS Next, we conferred with our business heads in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia, tapped into their exposure and observations and so, here we are, with our very own set of top trends for the hospitality industry in 2015!

As hoteliers, you may have heard of some of these before, but now, they are well underway to being fast flowing, furious trends that are shaping the hospitality industry and your hotel should promptly adopt these technological changes or may run into the risk being left behind.

But before we head to the top technology trends, let’s dwell on the guest segment that is gaining prominence.  In 2015, watch out for the Millennials and the Baby Boomers. The Millennials range from those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They could be in their late teens or married with kids. Millennials are wired for technology and love to travel. So here we come hotelier, gadgets and all.

Read more>>

Let the Party Begin!

Everybody wants the best for their child, and if it’s a birthday party you are organizing it has to be awesome. But once the excitement settles down and you actually get down to the task of planning. You will be surprised to note how organizing a simple child’s birthday party can actually be a daunting task. Locating venues and comparing a few, picking the menu, choosing a party theme, ensuring your menu is in line with the theme, booking the cake, sending out the invites, shopping for stuff like party hats and return gifts, planning the game, and the list goes on….. Don’t forget, this is a team effort. Your child, husband and in-laws will give you some fantastic ideas… but you have to do all the running around and implementation. Makes you want to pull your hair out, right?

Birthday planning made easy

But wait, organizing a child’s birthday party does not have to be this stressful. You can actually do some, if not most, of the things online. Oh yes, thanks to the internet and all those intelligent businessmen who envisaged the hardships a mother could face when organizing her child’s birthday bash. They actually put together a cool portal that could help you plan!

Venue Plan is one of these. It is an interactive real-time directory on event venues and birthdays. The site currently has information on Bangalore, but they are growing rapidly into other cities.

Venue Plan lets you locate hotels in your vicinity and in keeping with your budget. It helps connect moms planning their child’s birthday with hotels, check out the facilities being offered, pick the food, plan the theme, locate magicians, tattoo artists, photographers, handcrafted return gift providers, folks who can bake personalized cakes and more…. All over the phone! Yes, hard to believe, but true.

Now, let all the fantastic ideas from your child, husband and in-laws flow in, does anyone need to know you have a fairy godmother in Venue Plan:)

Should you desire to contact Venue Plan

Website: http://birthday.venueplan.com/

Phone: (91) 9886022277

Email: plan@venuesavvy.com

Goa is one of the smallest states in India, and little more than a dot on the country’s map. Yet did you know the coastal state played host to over three million visitors last year? The internationally renowned holiday hotspot attracts guests both from abroad and the expanding Indian middle-class, and the 101 kilometers of Goa’s coast has an impressive density of 3000 hotels!

ImageWith guests flooding in, the state has all types of hotels – from luxury to lodges. The high frequency of visitors and high occupancy rates means few hospitality properties can manage without software. Yes, behind your wonderful hotel stay, there is software and technology that notes your bill at the bar, food ordered up to your room, services availed of at the spa, and clothes you sent for laundering.

When your stay at the hotel ends, the software will send out a ‘Thank you’ SMS. The hotel will continue to stay in touch with you and wish you on your birthday and other special occasions. Expect to receive emails or SMS’s on special offers and discounts at the hotel, and when you come back next year with your wife or friends, the hotel staff will greet you by name.

Thanks to the hotels guest history feature. Hotel staff will already know the newspaper you like to read, the type of pillow you requested during your last visit, and even the drinks and food you enjoyed at their restaurant. At last, you are not just another revenue figure; you have found a little comfort zone away from home.

Hotel staff come and go, shifts change, but your favourite hotel knows your needs.

All this is made possible by a large hotel property management system that works ceaselessly – day and night. Did you know, a hotel property management system can be fairly complex, and includes software modules like Front Office Management which you can encounter at the lobby, Point of Sale in the restaurant, Accounts Receivables to manage payments, Finance Management, Housekeeping, Inventory Management, Telephone Management, HR and Payroll, Food and Beverage Costing, Quality Management, Banquets and Conferences, Sales and Marketing and more.

Yes, almost every department of your hotel is managed by its comprehensive property management system. This may seems strange, for all you see are smiling hotel staff at your beck and call. But it is precisely this software, which manages the large number of hotel operations and enables its staff to serve you well.

Added to this massive software that runs the hotel almost seamlessly, are a host of other applications too. From key cards, to fancy tablet based e-menu applications to wow you with sumptuous foods, mobile check-in so you walk straight to your room, to customized in-room entertainment. The list can go on.

The Indian Middle Class is traveling

As the Indian middle class expands, it is expected to exceed 600 million in India. This is a spurring growth in the travel and hospitality industry. The recent economic downturn may have curbed the construction of five-star hotels, but the mid-market segment of four and three star hotels is booming. Research[1] shows the millennials – those born between 1980 -2000 are expected to be avid travelers, love urban locales, travel in organized groups and use mobile phones and social media to post travel reviews.

You may expect to see more technology making its way rapidly into hotels with wi-fi and mobility apps. From the hoteliers perspective software as a service (SaaS) is the next big thing.

How safe are the details you give your hotel?

However, everything is not hunky dory with the hospitality industry. More recently, hotel software has come under the scanner for being vulnerable to hacking. Yes you read right. Hotels see hundreds of guests each year. Larger the hotel, bigger the size of their database. Cards – debit and credit- are the easiest and arguably the safest mode of payment, yet it is exactly this information that attracts hackers. Trolling the web for systems they can break into, and data they can easily steal and sell, hackers find hospitality property management systems easy to breach.

1Doug Meal, partner at Ropes & Gray, says “data breaches at hospitality-related businesses account for as much as 40% of all data security breaches.”  Thankfully there is a way around it. Some countries require hotel software to be PCI DSS compliant. This means payment card details are stored in an encrypted format and are thus hacker proof. India has not enacted this legislation which requires hotel software to be PCI or PA DSS compliant. However IDS NEXT, a hotel software provider with over 26 years of experience providing hospitality technology that has a large presence in the Goa hospitality industry is PA DSS compliant. This obviously is not only a huge benefit for the hotel industry, but for guests visiting these hotels too.

In This Together

I was looking forward to feeding the city pigeons with you.

 

To sitting in the park opposite our home,

gossiping about our days of yore.

 

To attend weddings, and stand like cloth dolls

While the bride and groom bent at our feet.

 

I planned to take in our days at leisure,

Frying eggs, toasting bread and cooking your favourite curry.

 

I wanted to help you find your glasses,

Hand you your towel at the bathroom.

 

We so hoped we could go sightseeing,

And watch the whales in Africa.

 

I looked forward to admonishing our grandchildren,

While you pampered them with your love.

 

I wanted to snuggle against you

When it got cold and the socks did not help.

 

So why did you suddenly take a decision one day

to just lay down and die?

Something In Her

There was something in her, and it sometimes kicked.
It made her tummy rounder and bigger.
The doctor said she was too small to bear this something,
but her mother in a drunken stupor could not care less.

 

She yearned for love in the signs that she made,
in the words that could not escape her mouth.
But the man who threw her on the floor,
overpowered her, left her bleeding
went beyond what she could put sound to.

 

So she hid her shame till she could no more.
And when the something inside her grew too large,
it kicked at her tender, innocent heart.

 

The words again fled her mind as she lay writhing on the floor.
Oh what pain she bore.

 

(This is a poem to someone I knew. She died a few months back in premature child birth)

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