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Recovering From Covid, Hospitality Sector Finds Hiring Tough

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CHENNAI, April 5 (IANS): With the Covid-19 restrictions being removed and international travel opening up, hoteliers in and around Chennai are expecting their till boxes ringing this fiscal, said industry officials.
In line with the expectations and also increased room occupancy and guest footfalls in their restaurants, the industry has started hiring processes.
However, hoteliers also say finding talent is difficult as many of those who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic have gone into other sectors and those who wanted to continue have found jobs in other properties.
According to surveys, the travel and hospitality sectors lead in hiring.
“Room occupancies and restaurant footfalls are on the rise. Once international travel is opened up then the business will further improve,” Yangya Prakash Chandran, founder and CEO, Crossway Hotels and Resorts, told IANS.
Crossway Hotels manages the Days Hotel By Wyndham Chennai OMR.
According to Chandran, the hotel’s restaurant NutCracker is getting higher footfalls during the weekend which shows people are wanting to go out and have food.
“Once the IT sector reverts to work from office instead of work from home then the restaurants in the OMR will gain good traction”.
While the CEO said he will start having food festivals once the business gains momentum, Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur had one festival recently.
The 100-room property Mercure, part of French group Accor, is located in the Sriperumbudur-Oragadam industrial area.
Celebrating its fourth anniversary, Mercure Chennai organised the ‘Art Brunch Festival’ last month. The art exhibition was on the theme ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, depicting the history of transportation.
The show traced the concept of mobility starting from the Vahanas from ancient Indian mythology to the ancient modes of transportation using animals and log boats up to the technological marvels we see today.
According to Rahul Nama, general manager, Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur, there is pent-up demand as domestic travel restrictions have been removed.
“The business and leisure travel sectors are picking up. As there is still work from home regime, there are guests who come with their family and do their office work,” Amit Kumar, general manager of the luxury beach resort Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa told IANS.
According to Kumar, the domestic MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) segment has picked up with several corporates from other parts of the country booking rooms at Sheraton Grand.
“Sixty per cent of our room nights last month was from the corporate sector,” Kumar added.
However, the window lead time for booking for the MICE segment has come down, he added.
Kumar also added that once international travel is opened up fully then the leisure travel within the country may stagnate as people would like to go overseas.
He said the 129-room Sheraton Grand had an occupancy ratio of about 75 per cent last month and the same levels are expected in April.
Referring to the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Mahabalipuram near Chennai, Kumar said star hotels in the East Coast Road and Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) will be full from July 25 to August 9.
“As a result, people wanting to stay along the coast may go to Puducherry. The hotels in Puducherry may benefit then.”
On hiring trends, Kumar said the hospitality sector is recruiting people but finding the right talent is tough.
The industry is tapping into its database and contacting their old employees who had lost their jobs due to Covid-19 lockdown.
“The people are not coming at pre-Covid costs. Pre-Covid the cost was different and now it is different. Further, people have changed their mindset as some do not want to come back to the sector.”
Concurs Days Hotels’ senior operations manager Sulekha Mridha, told IANS: “Hiring is becoming tough as availability of quality talent is not in abundance. Many who were in the hospitality sector are not coming back. Further, many people from the North East who were here and gone back during Covid-19 have not returned back.”

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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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