From 1% of Website Share to Total Occupancy, the Chander Baljee–Led Hotel Chain Sees Its Direct Bookings Grow 800%
Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels is one of the most prominent and one of the largest hotel chains in India. The young hotel brand was started in 2001 by Chander K. Baljee. The hotel industry witnessed an upswing in fortunes in 2003 and for Royal Orchid Hotels, there was no turning back. The following year Mr. Baljee had succeeded in adding four hotels including Royal Orchid Central, and Hotel Metropole under his company’s arm and aspired to make the brand’s presence felt nationally. Today, Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels operates over 70 hotels across the country and hopes to hit a century of properties by the end of 2022.
Prashant Mehrotra, Chief Operating Officer at Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels, says, “Our brand has great potential especially since we shifted towards Mr. Baljee’s vision of a data-driven and tech-centric business approach.”
With this vision, the management team decided to onboard Simplotel’s Booking Engine in 2020, which is a part of Simplotel's Hotel E-commerce solution. “We had considered alternatives from both domestic and international Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. We also knew about the good work that Simplotel was doing with other hotels. We believe that the next age of IT will be in India and hence we zeroed in on Simplotel. The thing we loved about Simplotel is synonymous to its name — simplicity.”
Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels does nearly 40% of its total occupancy online. Prior to Simplotel and COVID-19, the total number of bookings from the website (with respect to total occupancy across the chain) was in the range of 1-2%. However, after onboarding Simplotel’s Booking Engine, Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels has seen its bookings hit 9% of overall room night revenue (nearly 20% of its online occupancy).
Vivek Rajput, Associate Director of Revenue Management at Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels, says, “The best thing about Simplotel’s Booking Engine is that we can customize the promotions and discounts at the chain level instantly. This helped us a lot during the pandemic as international travel was restricted and we were only catering to domestic clientele. With this feature, we were able to localize our promotions (by changing names, rates, discounts) and generate business to keep our ship steady. Our numbers have grown by 800%. ”
Mehrotra adds, “I am a great believer in enhancing user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) because we always need to put our customer first. Simplotel provides our guests a similar experience as that of ecommerce websites. The entire visitor journey is completed in 3-4 steps. Initially, we only offered ‘Pay at Hotel’. However, Simplotel’s Booking Engine also provided us the feature to collect upfront payment, which we then combined to create the ‘Pay Now or Pay at Hotel’ option to grow bookings even further. Month-on-month we have seen a growth of 10-12% coming out of the booking engine.”
Anish Razdan, Revenue Manager at Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels, says, “Simplotel’s analytics dashboard was very helpful in devising business strategies. Our sales forecasting schedule was unpredictable due to the pandemic. However, data on failed bookings, abandoned bookings, length of stay helped us to revisit our properties and change promotions accordingly.”
Rajput adds, “The pandemic has crippled the hospitality industry across the globe. During the first wave, we only thought about getting back on our feet. So we realized that safety and hygiene protocols had to be at the center of our strategy accompanied by value-added services. That’s how we were able to leverage Simplotel’s Booking Engine to provide promotions for Staycation and Workation packages. On a personal front, I learned that staying mentally and physically fit is extremely important.”
All three gentlemen agree that the USP of Simplotel is its team. Mehrotra adds, “There is great synergy between our team and Simplotel’s. There is hardly any pushback and even if there is, we are duly informed. We love the energy of both teams.”
During the pandemic, Royal Orchid & Regenta Hotels had started various management development programmes to promote inner talent. This helped the company as a whole to strategize effectively and has borne fruit.
For people who want to join hospitality, the trio believe that data is the future. Razdan adds, “Know your numbers, listen to yourself, and you will succeed!”