Hotel rebranding is not just logo change but lot more

Chennai, Jan 20 (IANS): The uptrend in the automobile segment is expected to happen in the second half of this year as per the industry officials and that augurs well for the hospitality industry, said a top official of Welcomhotel GST Road, Chennai.

Referring to the recent rebranding exercise of the property, he added that it is not just change of logo, visiting cards and other brand images that a guest sees outwardly, but it involves lot of backend and infrastructure work.

The five-year-old 172-room 5-star hotel is located near the Ford India's factory in Maraimalai Nagar near hear. A lot of automotive ancillaries are also located.

"Nearly 90 per cent of our businesses is from our guests who are from the automotive industries. Nearly 45-50 per cent of our guests are foreigners. The slowdown in the automotive sector has impacted hospitality sector in this belt. But the auto industry officials predict an uptrend in the sector's fortunes from second half of the current year," Sunil Tandon, General Manager told IANS.

He said the average occupancy this year was 55 per cent.

"There is no confusion now in the BS-VI emission norms implementation and auto companies focussing on electric vehicles, the industries near our property are hoping to see an uptrend," he said.

That apart with two more international hotel brands coming up near the property -formerly Fortune Select Grand and now Welcomhotel GST Road - the hotel began losing foreign guests as they were able to utilize their international loyalty points at the other two properties, Tandon said.

According to him, these factors led the property owners to go for a brand upgrade from Fortune to Welcomhotel.

Tandon said the Welcomhotel brand is growing fast and soon two more properties under the brand are set to open and similarly one more Fortune brand hotel will be upgraded to Welcomhotel brand.

"The brand change involves lot of backend work and also infrastructure changes. For instance, we are now installing about 70 fire resistant doors as per the standards of the new brand. There are many other things that a brand change involves," Tandon added.

With digital space playing an important role in bringing guests to hotels, the change of brand was first intimated to the online players like travel sites, Trip Advisor and in the social media.

"The perceptible changes for the guests are the under bed carpets, wall papers, paintings, change of toiletries and carpets on the corridors. In the food and beverages section, some menu card changes were made," Tandon said.

Apart from change in staff uniform and training, the new brand has an entirely different standard operating procedure (SOP) as compared to what was followed under the earlier brand, he remarked.

"As new properties under the Welcomhotel brand get added, staff can go up in the ladder moving to other properties," Tandon remarked.

That apart, a well known brand attracts better talents and hotel management colleges will offer better students during campus recruitment, he added.

Queried about the change in rates - room rent and food - he said the property driven majorly by room rent alone (65 per cent of the hotel's revenue is from room rent) till the end of this fiscal the old rates would remain.

"As the service offerings are upgraded under the new brand we expect the market to absorb an upward revision of 10 per cent in our rates. Further our vendors will also be asking for a revision in the rates from next fiscal onwards, Tandon said.



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