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The Hard Facts

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) recently released their report on ‘Trends in Business Travel in India’ and the findings reiterate what has been obvious for so long - the business traveller demands quality service and does not like his mind-space being occupied by trivial distractions like bargaining for rates. He or she wants things kept simple and straight. Unfortunately, as things stand in India, the very opposite is true. Take, for example, FHRAI’s finding that one of the biggest concerns of business travellers was the many rates and discount levels for the same room on the same day. This is downright bizarre and the demand that hotels should have certain norms for discounts, which could be offered to companies on the basis of volumes on a transparent basis, needs to be implemented or enforced immediately. In fact, such incongruities extend to numerous other aspects of the business traveller-hotel equation. Indian hotels are more expensive compared to similar hotels in competing countries. Does the service warrant the high cost attached to it? No, according to the survey. All of the business travellers spoken to agreed that they could do with more entertainment and leisure activities. Their other complaints included poor room service, inflexibility in check-in and check-out timings, incorrect billing, failure to recognise repeat customers or provide personalised service, poor training of staff, poor delivery of services. Hotels in India would be well-advised to take these grievances seriously because the FHRAI report goes on to add in its conclusion that there is only one formula for retention of guests - good service. With business travel forming the lifeline of hotel occupancy in the country, I’m sure these hard facts would go a long way in ensuring that these hotels spruce up their image in order to retain their business clientele in India.

Sheldon Santwan
Editor - <ehc@vsnl.com>