- By: Deepali Nandwani
Renu Basu, Global Vice President – Sales and Marketing, IHCL is known for her dynamic approach to hospitality and problem solving, and her agile response to a crisis. She is in the best position to head IHCL’s global sales and marketing at a time when the hospitality industry is going through an existential crisis.
Renu began her career with Business India in 1982 and joined The Taj Hotels in 1986. Since then, the quintessential peoples’ person with a great passion for the profession, travel and contemporary art contributed immensely to the building of IHCL’s iconic portfolio.
In conversation with her is Mahesh ‘Bossy’ Shirodkar, the boss man of Tamarind Global, known as much for the flamboyance, luxury and sophistication of the events his company organizes as for the interesting travel itineraries it sculpts for luxury travellers.
The conversation covers a variety of subjects: from IHCL’s survival strategy to the evolution of its Aspiration 2022 programme in the face of the current challenges.
The full interview is 53 minutes of lessons, solutions, ideas, and more. if you are short on time, we have edited byte-size videos for you. Watch on …
Hotels, as they open, are faced with several questions: How to ensure safety and security of guests; how to communicate that they have all the protocols in place; how to run the hotels operationally and effectively, even as they maintain social distancing? Renu talks about how IHCL is planning to meet these challenges.
The need to be agile
Hotels that adapt and transform themselves in keeping with the changing times, maybe the ones that are likely to survive the devastation caused by the pandemic, says Renu.
New ideas and businesses
From F&B strategies to how the wedding segment is being leveraged, Renu speaks about IHCL’s future gameplan.
Last year, IHCL launched Aspiration 2022, a five-year business strategy of restructuring, re-engineering and re-imagining its portfolio by 2022. By February 2020, it had achieved 50% of ‘Aspiration 2022’ including a milestone of 200 hotels with an inventory of over 25,000 rooms. And then the pandemic hit.
Yet, Ranu says, IHCL is confident of achieving its Aspiration 2022 goal, even as it launched R.E.S.E.T 2020, a comprehensive five-point strategy that provides a transformative framework to help the group overcome the COVID-19 related challenges and achieve revenue growth while optimizing expenditure and strengthening the balance sheet.
IHCL has worked at reimagining its brandscape and create new brand architecture. Renu talks about the group’s distinct brands with their value proposition—from the heritage hotels to Ginger, and the new brands they have introduced over the last year.
Technology as an enabler
Technology is revolutionizing the industry and the emergence of ‘contactless’ hospitality is helping hotels to open safely for their guests. What are the contours of hotels that balance technology intervention with warm hospitality? Renu takes us through the paces.
Revenge travel and staycations
By all account, the first to travel will be domestic leisure travellers, who will explore hotels and destinations that are at the driving distance from their home. Renu explores how the phenomenon of ‘revenge travel’ and ‘staycations’ will help hotels stay afloat.
Weddings, MICE and Corporate Travel
While MICE and corporate travel may take a while to bounce back as most corporates continue with the ‘Work from Home’ programme, IHCL is seeing the return of the wedding business, though with a far truncated wedding party, in keeping with norms.
IHCL has aced its lockdown-mandated F&B business with Qmin, its gourmet food delivery service, not to mention the millions of free meals it has served to healthcare workers, municipal workers and migrant, labourers and those in distress, reveals Renu.
Rapid Fire with Renu Basu
Mahesh asks his version of a witty Rapid Fire and Renu responds with equal wit and alacrity!
The times are changing, and Renu and her team at IHCL, under the leadership of Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, are working towards occupying the position of market leaders even in these uncertain, transforming times.