Cheaper Room Nights
While the hospitality industry is working through a severe slowdown, star hotels like Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, ITC Welcome Group, the Oberoi Hotels and The Resort and others have slashed room rates by offering discounts of as much as 40%, or throwing in goodies such as free airport transport, meal vouchers or free stay for children.

For instance, although its published rate is Rs21,250 per night, the Taj Hotel is offering a sea-view room with breakfast for just Rs12,400. Similarly, the rack-rate for a sea-facing room in Oberoi has been revised downwards from Rs20,150 to Rs14,050 per night. Corporate houses with bulk booking contracts with specific hotels (based on assured minimum room nights per year) are able to negotiate even lower rates by threatening to take their business elsewhere. The CEO of an American MNC says that his firm has negotiated a rate of Rs7,000 per night at a five-star hotel near the Mumbai airport as against Rs12,000 per night that it charged during the boom to corporate customers as well. Five-star hotels are offering similar discounts even to their loyalty card holders. The Taj group of hotels also has a deal with Air India to offer incredible two-night packages for people travelling on free tickets through redemption of mileage points. Since the tickets are free, people are probably willing to splurge on a luxury hotel. The discounts are especially attractive at the favourite destinations of foreign tourists, who have not shown up this year due to the economic slowdown and security concerns. Corporate cost-saving measures have seen executives flying economy class and staying in budget hotels; hotels can retain these customers only by dropping rates.

According to a study by Egencia, the world’s largest travel firm, Delhi and Mumbai have seen the sharpest decline in five-star hotel room rates and business-class airfares in the Asia-Pacific region during the first quarter of 2009. Smart travellers are taking advantage of these offers. “I always wanted an experience of the Taj Hotels, but they were beyond my budget. Now that I know about the price cuts, I will use the opportunity to fulfil my dream of staying at the Taj,” says an excited Michelle Spafford, a US national who is visiting friends in Mumbai

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