Veer Vijay Singh is an old hand in the hospitality industry and has over four decades of experience behind him. After having hanged his boots from the Taj Group as the COO of Vivanta by Taj, in what he describes as his ‘second innings’, he has ventured into the business of managing hotels and providing consultancy. In an exclusive and no-holds-barred telephonic interview, he opened up about his most recent ventures, trends in footfalls in the city of Hyderabad and a lot more. Excerpts from the conversation:
Trends in hospitality in Hyderabad
Veer Vijay Singh, during his days working with the Taj group, oversaw the joint hotel venture between the Taj Group and GVK in Hyderabad. It was this association which gave him a ring-side view of churnings in Hyderabad and in the larger Andhra Pradesh hospitality market. When prodded to share some trends in the city’s hospitality landscape, he was quick to note that the city’s market had been in doldrums for a fairly sustained period post 2010, but it was only in the past couple of years that green shoots were visible. “A number of factors – agitations, the infamous Satyam scam, statehood issue, political instability and others – really took a toll on the hotel business. In the past year or two, occupancy rates have gone up to 63-65% which is a welcome sign,” he said.
He said that while wealth had come in to the city, average rates had continued to stutter at low levels, hurting businesses. “There has been some aversion to increasing rates in the city. Since the supply has picked up in the past years, hoteliers are not keen on pushing rates upwards,” he lamented. He advised local industry stakeholders to show more resolve and push rates commensurate to the levels of service.
Sharing his views on trends in the coming months, he expressed hope of recovery on the rate front. “It will take a year or so, before we can actually attain the right market condition, favouring correct room rates,” he suggested.
‘Second Innings’ and more
In his new avatar as an entrepreneur, he has launched VVS consultancy – a hotel consulting venture which has over 20 clients, featuring a range of hotels in the list. He explained that the firm was involved in numerous aspects of consultancy. “Suggesting measures for improving front and backhouse operations, auditing security, and assisting hotels understand finances better, we provide a range of service,” he said.
His other undertaking is a hotel management company called Trance Hotels and Resorts. He shared that the “urge to create something uniquely different” made him undertake the venture. “We did not want to come up with a run-of-the-mill company,” he said.
He mentioned that the brand was ideally suited for the younger generation of travellers who were always on the move. “We provide highest levels of hospitality. Looking after the well-being of our guest is our biggest priority. Every little aspect of holistic well-being has been thought out. That is what separates us,” he added.
Trance Hotels and Resorts has four distinct brands, aimed at catering a specific segment in a specific category, he explained. “Trance Urbane, Trance Heritage and Trance Resorts are in the 3-4-star category space. Whereas ‘V by Trance’ is a 5-star brand,” Veer Vijay Singh detailed.
Trance – Greenfields Resort and Convention centre is one of the properties managed by his company. Located amidst a lush 12-acre campus, the hotel features 48 villas and ample space for social and corporate gatherings. “It has over 55,000 sq. ft. of lawn and Hyderabad’s second largest convention space after HICC, and can accommodate around 2000 people,” he added. The hotel also featured unique offerings like a complimentary massage for 15 minutes to guests and organic, low-calorie food for health-conscious patrons, Veer Vijay Singh elaborated.
Though the product was distinct, given the intensely competitive business market, he emphatically stated that his brand was not competing with the likes of AMAN.
When asked about the road ahead, he said that he was in talks with several hotel owners and was close to opening a hotel with 48 keys in Bhuj and a 100 keys hotel in Lonavala. “We would soon have one hotel in North Goa, another one in Jhillai, Rajasthan – it is a beautiful heritage property,” he further shared.