The exclusive interview with Divakar Shukla, General Manager of Holiday Inn Chennai. We delve into the transformative journey of one of Chennai’s premier hospitality establishments. With an illustrious career spanning two decades in the industry, Mr. Shukla reflects on the seismic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilience displayed by the Holiday Inn Chennai team during these challenging times.
- In your two decades in the hospitality industry, what has been the most significant impact on the Indian hospitality sector?
The most significant impact in recent years has undoubtedly been the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis brought the industry to a standstill, presenting immense challenges. However, amidst adversity, the team at Holiday Inn Chennai demonstrated remarkable resilience and commitment. United in purpose, each member went above and beyond the call of duty, showcasing the human spirit that embodies true hospitality. This collective effort, driven by care for the hotel and guests, became a beacon of strength during uncertain times.
A silver lining that also emerged from the pandemic was how hotels embraced technology for survival. The adoption of digital solutions, from contactless check-ins to robust online marketing, became crucial. This forced shift towards a digital-first approach has not only made hotels more resilient but has also positioned them as digitally savvy, accelerating a transformed and tech-driven future in the Indian hospitality sector.
- Could you highlight specific features or offerings that distinguish Holiday Inn Chennai as a preferred choice for business travellers in the competitive market of Chennai?
Strategically positioned in Chennai’s bustling IT hub, our hotel excels in meeting the needs of modern business travellers. Boasting 202 rooms, with diverse dining choices and multiple banqueting venues, including conference and board rooms, we ensure a seamless blend of convenience and comprehensive services for the corporate clientele. Our commitment is to provide a tailored experience for guests, leveraging our prime location and a range of amenities to enhance their stay.
- What promotional strategies have been particularly successful for Holiday Inn Chennai in the competitive market?
A digital-first approach has been crucial to our success at Holiday Inn Chennai. We maintain a robust online presence and leverage digital marketing and social media to engage with a broader audience. IHG Rewards One Loyalty program plays a pivotal role in fostering loyalty and repeat business backed by our strategic location and efficient services.
- Could you share any upcoming or recent marketing campaigns that have been implemented to enhance the hotel’s visibility and attract guests?
Regular food promotions across our dining outlets attract the local clientele and are well-received by our corporate guests. We make significant investments in our social media marketing campaigns, enhancing our visibility and fostering engagement with our guests.
- What do you think about significant changes or challenges in the ever-evolving landscape of the Indian hospitality industry?
The Indian hospitality industry has always encountered challenges due to the changing global landscape, and the recent pandemic. Adapting to customer expectations, using advanced technologies for better experiences, prioritizing health and safety, and embracing sustainability are crucial today. Managing the workforce and effective trainings continue to remain a priority. Navigating these challenges through innovation is vital for the industry’s resilience in a constantly changing environment.
- Are there any exciting future projects or expansions planned for Holiday Inn Chennai that you can share with us?
We recently launched a casual dining Asian restaurant, providing our guests with more dining options. Next on the agenda is the introduction of a spa facility at Holiday Inn Chennai.
- Given the growing importance of sustainability, what initiatives has Holiday Inn Chennai undertaken in this regard, and how do they align with the overall brand strategy?
Holiday Inn Chennai is committed to leading the way in sustainable hospitality practices. Here’s an overview of some of the most impactful sustainable initiatives we’ve undertaken for reduced costs and increased saving:
- We transitioned to glass bottles, operating an in-house bottling plant to reduce our carbon footprint and enhance sustainability.
- Installed two EV charging stations, facilitating eco-friendly transportation
- Achieved 90% of the hotel’s electricity generation through wind power, promoting cleaner and greener energy sources.
- Installed high-efficiency showerheads in guest rooms for water conservation without compromising guest comfort.
- Implemented programmable lighting and thermostats in public areas to optimize energy conservation.
- Replaced plastic room cards with environmentally friendly wooden alternatives
- Converted the hot water generator to a 100 KW heat pump, significantly reducing diesel consumption and carbon emissions.
- We surpassed our energy efficiency target of -2.5%, achieving a remarkable -20% for the year.
- Implemented advanced thermostats based on guest room occupancy, optimizing energy usage.
- Adopted a ‘prevent, donate, divert’ plan to manage food waste and minimize environmental impact.
- Utilized an OWC to efficiently transform garbage into nutrient-rich manure, producing 300-400kg of high-quality manure monthly.