'Community is always at the heart of IHCL'

Rakhee Lalvani, VP, Public Relations & Corp Comm, and Nairita Ghosh, Corp Comm Manager, IHCL talked about how #TravelForIndia campaign inspires to travel safe and help rebuild the sector

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Oct 8, 2020 9:12 AM  | 5 min read
rakhee

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) launched #TravelForIndia – a campaign to inspire safe travel and help rebuild the tourism and hospitality industry that touches millions of lives. In line with the government’s ‘Vocal for Local’ vision, #TravelForIndia aims at driving awareness about the importance of domestic tourism and its impact on livelihoods. With a number of initiatives supporting indigenous tourism in the pipeline, #TravelForIndia was kick-started with a special video, celebrating the incredible diversity of India whilst spreading a message of optimism, hope and unity in solidarity of its vast ecosystem.

exchange4media had a candid conversation with the curators of the campaign-- Rakhee Lalvani – Vice President, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, IHCL and Nairita Ghosh – Corporate Communications Manager, IHCL, for insights on the campaign, the necessity of creating awareness about travel and hospitality industry, responsible communication, altered customer behaviour, future campaigns and more.

Kickstarting the conversation, Lalvani put the spotlight on the necessity to create awareness about the travel and hospitality industry now and its overall contribution to the country. She explained,” The tourism industry contributes around 9.3% of the total GDP of the country giving employment to 8% of the population. So, there is a huge dependency of livelihood on the sector. Operations came to an unprecedented halt in the first half of the FY20, but after the gradual unlocking of the economy, now almost 80% of hotels are back to business.”

Talking about the lockdown phase, Lalvani remarked, “We were not doing any marketing campaigns in the lockdown. However, we were proud to provide help to the migrant workers, hosting doctors & nurses. Community is always at the heart of our business.”

Throwing light on the #TravelForIndia campaign, Ghosh said, “With the unlocking of the country, the green shoots of travel started again. We have seen a lot of workcations happening now. Being the largest hospitality firm in South Asia, we realize the importance of travelling as it touches and affects many lives in the process. Recognized as one of the most resilient industry, we had to be sensitive and at the same time promote responsible travelling.”

“The campaign has been curated to inspire travelling again and rebuild the travel and tourism sector. It also aims at promoting domestic travel and tourism to explore the unexplored avenues of the country keeping in line with ‘VocalforLocal’ vision,” added Ghosh.

Lalvani believes that domestic tourism will play an important role in promoting recovery of the travel and hospitality sector along with promoting ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ vision of the Prime Minister.

As the country gears up to reopen in various sectors in a phased manner, IHCL’s hotels have effectively implemented heightened hygiene and safety procedures for all guests, employees, partners and vendors. Lalvani informed that in preparation of resuming operations, the company has implemented multiple recommendations in its hotels and across the organization in accordance with guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Government of India. “IHCL has also been working in close consultation with its longstanding global partners, who are pioneers in providing smart sustainable solutions for cleanliness and hygiene for the hospitality industry”.

 Talking about the changes that the hospitality industry is witnessing in the new normal, she explained about “Tajness – A Commitment Restrengthened” and took us through the entire experience that a customer gets from the time of entering the hotel to exiting. She said, “The new experience, which begins from the moment the guest puts foot in a hotel car until alighting from one on their way back home, has been carefully thought through. Mandatory temperature checks are conducted with all guests and associates entering the hotels. Check-in and check-out formalities are processed digitally as far as possible in order to have minimum contact. Common and high-touch areas of hotels like cars, lobbies and elevators would witness more frequent and industrial-strength disinfectants being used as part of an escalated cleanliness routine. Restaurants and banquet areas have fewer tables and all self-serving buffets are suspended. Menus is largely digital or single-use, with greater emphasis on wellness-oriented food sections for healthier meals and a greater level of immunity.”

“All guest-facing employees like baggage handlers, valets and guest relations and backroom staff, like housekeeping and engineering, have been adequately trained on social distancing norms as well as the latest precautionary hygiene and safety guidelines. In addition, all associates and vendors have also been provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and all work are disinfected regularly”, she added.

Moving the discussion forward, the VP talked about the altered customer behaviour in the new normal. “Customers are more conscious and more self-aware now. We need to focus more on responsible communication and empathetic to reinstate the trust of our customers back and make them fully equipped with the new normal scenario. Customers too feel at home with such gestures by us”

Talking about the involvement of influencers and influencer marketing, Ghosh responded, “We do engage with influencers but selectively. We focus more on organic reach and engagement”.

Moving towards the end of the conversation, Lalvani informed about two upcoming master digital campaigns by the brand. After the success of #TravelForIndia campaign, IHCL will soon be coming up with New Beginnings and Volunteer Tourism campaigns to leverage domestic tourism and promote travelling again in the new normal.

 

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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