By Aditi Balbir
The year 2018 fortified everything we knew about the travel sector. Things were changing fast-Indians were travelling more than ever before. They wanted short breaks along with their one long vacation. They wanted to explore new destinations. They wanted to garner new experiences and really immerse themselves in the local culture. And they wanted to show it to their friends via social media. The domestic traveler was a force to be reckoned with. And we were thrilled. For our business was based on exactly this hypothesis. Launching new destinations that focused on experience. Being close enough to the metros to allow for short breaks.
The first half of 2019 did keep up the momentum and we scaled rapidly. Our industry took notice of the emerging trends-we saw various new players entering the experiential space. Industry stalwarts like Taj launched Ama Trails, Kapil Chopras Postcard hotels focused on uber luxury experiences. The third quarter of 2019 has definitely witnessed a slowdown with the tightening economy. But Experience-the new buzzword is here to stay.
2020 has to be the year for consciousness-as Greta Thunberg reminds us everyday. The quest for new destinations is evident, but what is less so is the ancillary benefits that accrue to the community. They gain much-employment is generated for their young who would otherwise leave to urban areas to earn their livelihood. Education is not necessary for skilling in hospitality. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to make local goods, to conduct local tours or take up revenue generating activities. Farmers and local Kirana stores are promised regular sales. And artisans are given an audience for their craft.
We believe that there are more direct benefits that can be added-ensuring minimum waste of food, clean energy and waste management systems. And ensuring a circularity of materials-for instance resort linen can be used to make bags or wet waste can be used to make compost or water can be recycled for use in gardens. Eco-hospitality is the clear trend for 2020. We will see an insurgence of the same and new players shift their business models and change their ways of consumption.
Sustainability cannot be one sided-I see a significant change in consumers mindset. I see their willingness to pay a premium for products that are more conscious. I see them wanting to learn too-how to waste less, how to gain more. And I hope they will enjoy this through immersive experiences designed at these resorts. The government's attention is key-I expect that they will be willing to incentivize players that create impact for their states. Creating Utopia is a collective effort and I see India partaking and being instrumental in this effort to live sustainably and consciously.
( The author is Founder and CEO of V Resorts. Views expressed are personal.)