Claridges Group CEO Sanjeev Nanda discusses how the pandemic has changed the Indian hospitality sector

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sanjeev nanda

The hospitality sector is one of the many sectors that has received a frontline pummelling from Covid-19. However, leading hotel chains in India are braving past the hurdles posed by the pandemic. One such hotel chain is The Claridges Group of Hotels, which continues to flourish under the leadership of its CEO, Sanjeev Nanda.

We talked to the Claridges CEO about the impact of the pandemic on the Indian hospitality sector. According to Sanjeev Nanda, the industry has undergone some major changes in order to adjust to the ‘new normal’. “Travel and tourism, especially at domestic leisure destinations, is bouncing back at a rapid pace. People are travelling again, which is a good sign for the industry,” said Nanda.

The pandemic woes

Talking about the adverse impact that the pandemic has had upon the hospitality sector, Sanjeev Nanda said that the lockdown that ensued following the Covid-19 breakout was the most difficult part of running a hotel business during the pandemic. “The lockdown brought the revenues down to zero. So, when the business bounced back to 15 per cent and then 30 per cent, it was quite a respite,” said Sanjeev Nanda.

He added, “However, in order to break even, you need to have almost 50 per cent of the pre-Covid level of revenue, occupancy aside. The higher category of hotels in India usually gets 50 per cent of its revenues from rooms and the other 50 per cent from other offerings like F&B, spas, gyms, swimming pools, etc. The shutdown of bars, restaurants and spas was a major contributor to the revenue loss.”

Achieving a state of normalcy

Upon being asked about a guesstimate as to when the hotel business in India will achieve pre-Covid levels, Sanjeev Nanda said that while it is difficult to define a timeline for the same, the ongoing vaccination drive is expected to aid the hotel business return to normalcy by the end of April if India doesn’t get numerous mutations of the virus as it happened in the European nations.

According to the Claridges Group CEO, the lawmakers can also aid the sector in overcoming the hard times. “Hospitality needs to be included in the concurrent list in order to help the sector grow. The industry might not have been as important as it is now back when our country became independent. However, the times have changed since then and hence the laws for the industry must change too. There is a dire need of a more enabling set of rules,” said Sanjeev Nanda.