Skift Take

Bringing cricket superfans into the picture as "quality assurance ambassadors" makes total sense because these die-hard sports enthusiasts are the ones who'll be hitting the road to catch their favorite matches. It's like MakeMyTrip saying, "Let's cater to the people who are at the heart of the action."

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Embracing the fervor of the Cricket World Cup in India, MakeMyTrip is diving headfirst into the event that’s expected to attract a massive audience. In its latest campaign, the online travel company is enlisting cricket superfans to ensure the quality and hospitality standards of its homestays and villas.

Traveler’s Predicament While Choosing Homestays: To address the issue of inconsistent accommodations, MakeMyTrip has recruited cricket superfans from the subcontinent as “quality assurance ambassadors,” acknowledging the challenges travelers encounter with varying hospitality and offerings, especially in the homestay category.

Who Are These Ambassadors? Individuals like Sudhir Chaudhary, Saravanan Hari and Sugumar from India, Gayan Senanayaka from Sri Lanka, and Shoaib ‘Tiger’ Bukhari from Bangladesh are at the forefront of this initiative.

What Will They Do? In MakeMyTrip’s words these people would be “testing and validating” its curated homestays and villas in the brand’s latest campaign.

(Read how the cricket world cup looks to ignite India’s travel demand)

Highlighting the expertise of these superfans, MakeMyTrip noted, “Given their extensive travel experiences while following cricket matches worldwide, they are uniquely equipped to provide a comprehensive assessment across various parameters such as pricing, service quality, and available space.”

Indian Travelers and FOSO

Skift brings out India-centric data points from the global research study conducted by Collinson’s airport experiences programme, Priority Pass.

FOMO is passe, enter FOSO (fear of switching off).

What’s FOSO Now? While travel booms the constant pressure to be connected is also proving a challenge for many. And this is particularly prominent among younger travellers.

  • 72% of travellers in India mentioned they cannot leave their phone back in the hotel room while they relax, and 55% struggle to stop checking work-related emails or work-related instant messaging chats while on a vacation.
  • While a majority of travelers believe that switching off completely would improve their overall well-being, most of them feel they will miss out on work emails if they are away from their device for too long.

Top FOSO-Free Trips: for Indian travellers — beach holiday, wildlife tour/safari and holiday centred around wellness.

Ideal Holiday Time Period: 2-6 days only.

Accor’s India Plans

Accor plans to open 30 new properties in India in the next three to five years, senior vice president operations, India and South Asia, Puneet Dhawan, told news agency PTI recently.

Target Cities: The new properties would come up in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Mohali, Bhubaneswar and Amritsar.

India’s Rising Middle Class: During his conversation, Dhawan also discussed the promise of tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India, where Accor has observed increased demand and rising room rates following the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted that the rates smaller cities have been able to command surpass those in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, which has motivated developers and investors to explore opportunities in these markets.

New Brands: It is precisely this potential, coupled with the rising Indian middle class wielding greater purchasing power, that has made Accor believe that the market can accommodate more of their brands, beyond the existing nine in India.

The hospitality chain plans to introduce more from its global portfolio of 40 brands in India to serve diverse customer segments.

Potential Additions in India: Swissotel, Movenpick, and the Handwritten Collection.

Accor Hotel Tally: At present Accor has 61 hotels in India under its nine brands with about 11,500 operating rooms.

Oyo in Talks With US Equity Firm for Loan Refinancing: Reports

Oyo Hotels is said to be in discussion with U.S.-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management regarding the refinancing of a $660 million loan, due in 2026. The move comes after Oyo aims to extend its debt reduction timeline following a delay in its initial public offering, as reported by Bloomberg.

About the $660 Million: During 2021, Oyo Hotels and Homes secured $660 million in debt financing from international investors, including Fidelity Investments. As mentioned in the Bloomberg report, Oyo’s parent company, Oravel Stays, is now pursuing an extension of the loan’s maturity period to five years.

Eyeing an Oyo Stake: Private equity firms General Atlantic and Norwest Venture Partners are also said to be in talks with investors in Oravel Stays to pick up a stake in the hotel operator.

Oyo Investors: Investors of the Softback-backed hotels aggregator include Peak XV Partners (formerly known as Sequoia Capital India) and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

In May, Skift had reported that Chinese hospitality company H World Group sold one-fifth of its holding of Oyo to United Arab Emirates-based family offices and institutional investors for around $9 million.

In another development Oyo has announced the elevation of Rakesh Kumar to deputy chief financial officer.

Rakesh was earlier the head of controls, overseeing controllership and had led the transition of acquisitions within Oyo including the two European vacation rentals, Direct Booker and Bornholmske Feriehuse

DS Group To Pump In $60 Million to Strengthen Hotel Sector

FMCG corporation DS Group is set to expand its presence in the hospitality sector with an investment of over INR 5 billion ($60 million) in the six properties it currently owns.

Growth: Through the investment, the group expects to achieve a growth rate of 15% in the hospitality segment over the next 2-3 years.

Expansion Plans: As part of its expansion plan, DS Group also aims to acquire three new properties over the next three years. The new properties would be in the northern and eastern regions of the country, the company said.

Upon completing this expansion plan, DS Group aims to have a total of 1500 keys across its hospitality properties.

Portfolio: DS Group has been in the hospitality business since 2000. Presently, its hospitality portfolio encompasses The Manu Maharani in Nainital and Namah in Jim Corbett National Park, which are both members of Radisson Individuals, Radisson Blu Hotel Guwahati, Crowne Plaza, Jaipur Tonk Road, Holiday Inn Express, Kolkata Airport and the Marriot managed Renaissance Hotel in Bengaluru.

India Looks to Develop Smart and Sustainable Destinations

India’s ministry of tourism will be working with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) to expand Travel for LiFE initiative across Asia Pacific region.

What’s Travel for LiFE? Launched during World Tourism Day on September 27, the Travel for LiFE initiative supports the development of smart destinations that are responsible and sustainable.

PATA Involvement: The tourism ministry said it would be setting up a PATA desk to strengthen engagement with the association on Travel for LiFE and other areas of cooperation. The ministry also said that it is working with UNEP and UNWTO on strengthening the program.

Travel for LiFE aspires to bring large-scale behavioral change amongst tourists and tourism businesses to bring about an impact on environment protection while ensuring socio-cultural sustainability.

The actions designed in line with the eight themes of Travel for LiFE include:

  • Save Energy
  • Save Water
  • Say No to Single Use Plastic
  • Reduce Waste
  • Empower Local Businesses and Communities
  • Respect Local Culture and Heritage
  • Consume Local Foods
  • Conserve Nature

ITC to bring Storii to Kolkata

ITC’s Hotel Group has announced the signing of its first Storii property in Kolkata. With this, the group will have 9 properties in West Bengal, including 4 under development.

The 30-key Storii Kolkata is expected to open in early 2024 in South City Retreat District.

Storii Portfolio: A total of three Storii properties are already in operation across India – Storii Shanti Morada and Storii Moira Riviera in Goa and Storii Amoha Retreat in Dharamshala.

What’s The Storii? Storii is a collection of intimate-sized boutique properties in the premium segment.


Skift India Report

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Tags: accor, collinson, holiday inn express, itc hotels, makemytrip, online travel, oyo, pata, priority pass, private equity, radisson, skift india report

Photo credit: World Cup cricket fever grips India Tourism Victoria / Flickr

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