ITC Hotels Executive Director Nakul Anand told HOTELS on Wednesday that the group is witnessing cancellations – both business and leisure – with considerable slowing in the booking pace. Hotels where the component of international guests is higher are particularly vulnerable.
On the upside, Anand said domestic travel continues, and if airline load factors are an indication, the drop is not so severe.
“Industry is approaching events in a circumspect manner, and we are seeing some events shrinking in terms of number of participants,” he said. “So, while there are cancellations of some events, on the upside, others are going ahead with their plans, albeit with smaller numbers.”
Anand said a conservative estimate of the impact thus far would be approximately 50%, “with the future looking ominous.”
ITC has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak since its inception and points to the country’s proactivity as a hopeful signal.
“WHO has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. India has been relatively much more proactive with precautions being followed at every step,” Anand said. “The government has acted swiftly and put filters well in time to minimize the corona effect. India has shown immense grit and resilience implementing measures that save and prevent the spread of this virus. Visa restrictions have been imposed to safeguard public interest, and internal advisories have been issued against large gatherings and crowds.”
He added, “Prevention is better than cure. That serves as the guiding mantra to all of us in this hour. ITC Green Centre-ITC Hotels’ corporate office continues to monitor the situation very closely.”
ITC protocols, procedures
Procedures and protocols recommended by the WHO are being followed at ITC hotels. At the corporate level, a cross-functional senior management group, including an operations head, area managers, a chief microbiologist, a technical services head and doctors, and hygiene experts, are engaged around the clock with the operations team to provide guidance for both associates and guests.
Anand added that the corporate team is in consistent touch with hotel teams across India, through regular briefings and updates.
For ITC guests, the hotel has set up communication posters and personal hygiene products such as anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, tissue boxes, temperature screening and mask availability. Updates are being provided to associates through video conferencing, emails, walls of learning and knowledge sessions.
“The communication is to ease the anxiety levels and reiterate our commitment and responsibility towards providing a safe working environment,” Anand said.
Frequency of cleaning the public areas and touch points like elevators, lobbies, door handles, public washrooms has been increased. High quality hospital-grade disinfectant is being used across the hotel.
While ITC Hotels has a food safety lab at its hotels, it is monitoring the current food safety recommendations as well.
ITC has further heightened good hygiene practices, awareness campaigns, temperature screening of guests and associates, isolation rooms, detailed processes for handling linen, safe cleaning procedures and more. A written declaration is also obtained from the guest during check-in and at F&B outlets with regard to their health condition as a precautionary measure.