Pradeep Shetty, FHRAI President
Pradeep Shetty, FHRAI President FHRAI

A Conversation With FHRAI President On Integrating AI In The Ever-Evolving Hospitality Space

Pradeep Shetty, president of Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India shared how the hospitality industry integrates new-age practices such as sustainability or Artificial Intelligence to meet the changing market dynamics

Staying attuned to the latest trends, the hospitality industry is constantly metamorphosing itself into a sector open to adaptability in the face of challenges. It is a significant contributor to India's GDP, acting as a catalyst in steering socio-economic growth.

To understand how the industry is coping with the ever-evolving market dynamics, OT spoke to Pradeep Shetty, the president of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India, who shared inputs on incorporating new-age practices such as sustainability or Artificial Intelligence to ensure a tech-driven and environment-friendly transition.

Read the excerpts from the interview below.

Q

As tourism plays a significant role in India's economy, how is FHRAI collaborating with stakeholders to promote sustainable tourism practices that benefit local communities and preserve cultural heritage while ensuring economic prosperity for the hospitality sector?

A

FHRAI, in collaboration with key stakeholders, has been at the forefront of advocating sustainable tourism practices. A notable initiative involves establishing Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with organisations like the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. The overarching objective is to devise holistic solutions to tackling the hospitality sector's social and environmental sustainability issues.

Central to this partnership is utilising local businesses and resources to propagate sustainable practices. These efforts not only enhance the well-being of local communities but also safeguard cultural heritage. By actively promoting the adoption of social and environmental sustainability tools and resources, FHRAI aims to ignite a collective commitment among tourism industry stakeholders to prioritise sustainability in their operations.

The Changing Dynamics Of Hospitality/ Representational
The Changing Dynamics Of Hospitality/ RepresentationalShutterstock
Q

Given the recent disruptions caused by the pandemic, what strategies will be essential for the hospitality sector to build resilience and ensure long-term success in the face of future uncertainties?

A

We feel that several key techniques will be required for long-term success. Diversifying revenue streams and experimenting with new business models, such as hybrid services and digital experiences, can reduce the risks associated with variable demand.

Furthermore, strong business partnerships, collaborations, and relationships with government agencies and other stakeholders will be critical for sharing best practices and lobbying for favourable regulations. Investing in workforce development and training programmes will ensure the workforce is trained and adaptive enough to face future difficulties.

Q

Please tell us about the emerging practices in the hospitality sector. What key trends and developments will shape the sector's trajectory in India?

A

First and foremost, there's a robust focus on integrating technology to elevate guest experiences and improve operational efficiency. This includes implementing contactless solutions, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), and harnessing the power of data analytics. Next, sustainability is gaining popularity, increasing demand for environmentally friendly projects and locally based items. 

Finally, experiential travel is on the rise, driving innovation in product offerings and destination marketing for real cultural experiences.  To effectively satisfy ever-changing requirements, businesses must be adaptable and quick in responding to developing customer preferences, such as wellness-focused travel and convenient accommodations for remote work. These trends collectively reflect a shift towards a more tech-savvy, sustainable, and experience-driven hospitality landscape in India.

Integrating new-age technology such as QR codes or AI is integral to the hospitality industry
Integrating new-age technology such as QR codes or AI is integral to the hospitality industryShutterstock
Q

How do you plan to incorporate AI into the hospitality space? Will it be able to meet the growing demands?

A

We're seeing its potential to change how we work, engage with guests, and anticipate their requirements in the hotel industry. By utilising AI, we can provide more individualised experiences, increase operational effectiveness, and satisfy the expanding needs of a rapidly changing sector. The use of 'chatbots' for in-the-moment customer support is a significant AI application. These virtual assistants can take reservations, provide information, and rapidly reply to visitors' questions, reducing wait times and improving the overall visitor experience. This simplifies processes and frees human workers to concentrate on more complex jobs that call for a human touch.

Predictive analytics is another useful AI tool for improving demand predictions. AI is capable of analysing large data sets to identify trends and patterns. It can detect patterns and trends in vast amounts of data, which aids in predicting occupancy rates, seasonal variations, and other elements influencing the distribution of resources. This makes it possible for us to optimise personnel, inventory, and other operational factors, which results in a more effective and economical business model.

Q

What is there for the middle or lower middle class, who still prefer affordable food outlets over high-end restaurants? Are there any plans to make the expensive eateries/stays more inclusive and budget-friendly in an ever-expanding travel landscape?

A

The hospitality industry is rapidly recognising the importance of diversity for the middle or lower middle class, which prefers affordable meal options. There are plans to diversify the menu with more reasonably priced options, give discounts and promotions during off-peak hours, and create hybrid models that combine high-end and casual services to make expensive restaurants and hotels more reasonable.

Besides, there has been a rise in alternative accommodation choices, including budget-friendly boutique hotels and hostels. Community engagement initiatives, such as events and partnerships with local communities, also aim to make high-end establishments more accessible. These efforts reflect a commitment to catering to diverse economic segments in an ever-expanding travel landscape.

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