GM Interview: Ashish Kumar Singh on Noida and the hospitality market
Ashish Kumar Singh, The City Manager of Ginger Noida, talks about the change in identity that Ginger Hotels are undertaking and the peculiar challenges of retaining millennial talent.
Singh won Hotelier India’s ‘General Manager of Year – Economy to Budget’ Award. In the past five years, Ginger Noida has gone from 83-key hotel to a 179 one. It has been able to maintain 85%-90% YTD occupancy.
What is the Noida market like for the hospitality industry?
The performance of the market has been fantastic. At Noida, the average occupancy rate in the budget segment is about 75 %, whereas our hotel is doing an average of 90%. It was about 85% last year. We have seen an average growth rate of 5% year-on-year. There are more of FITs (Free Independent Travellers). The business sectors in Noida is dominated by IT and Education. Out of the 90% occupancy, about 80% is by a blend of business travellers from these two sectors.
How has the market evolved over the last one year?
It is dominated by the IT industry. The booking preferences have changed. There are more online bookings. Earlier, about 10% bookings were made online. It has now grown to 25%. So, people tend to book more online.
What are the challenges you face as the City Manager of Ginger Noida?
Noida is a business centre and the ARRs have seen an average growth of 7 to 8%. However, the challenge lies in shoring up occupancy rates on weekends and holidays, when it falls by about 45 to 50%. Also, the attrition rates are high because millennials do not like to stay somewhere for too long; they are constantly on a move. We have been able to retain employees for the first 100 days and our attrition rates have gone down to 30%.
Is F&B a big revenue earner for Ginger Noida?
F&B is a good revenue earner, but we have an outsourced F&B model. However, from 2019 we will be introducing our own F&B concepts. Ginger Goa just opened and that is a very premium property. It has its own F&B concepts. The hotel boasts French design and is a much better product. We hope to replicate the Ginger Goa format in other Ginger hotels. The plan includes re-imagining spaces to blur the lines between work and play and fusing global and local influences to create experiences that are vibrant, quirky, intuitive and smart.
What are the USPs that your hotel offers vis-à-vis others in the market?
We largely target the business segment and their needs are safety, cleanliness, and a ‘refresh and revive’ experience. If you can provide these, any budget hotel will rock. We provide good breakfast, good rooms that is maintained at the right temperature. Small details like having a shower at the right temperature are looking into.
What have been your takeaways for 2018 and how do you think the market will evolve in 2019?
We have been adding new hotels to the Ginger portfolio over the last three years. On the ARRs we are at an all-time high, and so are occupancy levels. We only see the segment growing as we bring in the more premium and luxury format hotels.
What are your expectations in terms of government policy changes?
All hotels in the NCR sector were impacted by the Minimum Wages Act. But we are working with the state government and we are happy with the progress.