A passionate human being and a Hotelier with 24 years of Global experience, Accor Plus’s Prashanth Kumar (Vice President, South Asia & Business Support Asia Pacific) has come a long way since his humble start to becoming a successful entrepreneur. An avid traveller who has been to 31 countries so far, Kumar opens up about the impact that the current global crisis has had on the hospitality and travel sectors. In conversation with Nikita Saha, he also holds forth on what the future possibly holds.
CB: How would you describe Accor Plus ?
Prashanth: Accor Plus is the world’s most expansive travel, dining and lifestyle programme. I personally believe it is in the business of helping its members build priceless memories with their loved ones and celebrate life. The biggest part of any celebration has been travelling and food, we save enough money in the pocket of our members to keep celebrating all year long and live up to our promise of celebrating more in our 1100+ hotels in 20 countries in Asia Pacific.
CB: How are you coping with the dent in business due to Covid ?
Prashanth: These are testing times for humanity overall. It’s sad to see so much of pain all around but as a leader it is our shared responsibility to give everyone hope, positivity and strength. So, the most important thing for me as leader of my team is to ensure they are motivated and charged to keep the business and life moving. If I have saved jobs of my people and assured them of a safe and secured future, my job is done. And our efforts have resulted in desired outcomes so far, as I can proudly say that we have not only protected jobs of our people but we have also created new jobs for our fellow countrymen during this time.
CB: How do you think life and hospitality will change in the Post-Covid world?
Prashanth: I think there is no post Covid World as it is going to stay with us, we will certainly get used to it with more people getting vaccinated.
I believe life has already changed with Covid as all of us are more conscious of our surroundings now and some of these habits will stay forever. You will always see sanitisers around. Some of these practices have already become a part of hospitality standard operating procedures. Just like we change after facing any challenge in life and become more prepared for the future challenges. Our world is becoming more and more digital which is really a pre-Covid phenomenon only it has hastened a fair bit during these trying times.
Yes, but travel I believe will return like never before as human beings can’t be confined to small spaces and it will return with people taking up revenge travel as it returns! Quite honestly, we did see a spike in businesses before the second wave and it will happen again and I firmly believe that. The human species is a species unstoppable. We will always fight back and emerge stronger after all crises and that is my faith in our race.
CB: How you see businesses in the future? Any sectors that will outshine the rest?
Prashanth: The future is out for the taking. Many industry leaders have been dislodged. Numerous disruptions in businesses have happened. This a great time for businesses to take the leap, make the most of this crisis which is like a spot light, get good talent, develop existing talent, implement new ideas, partner with other businesses and create symbiotic relationships. The business which does the above will outshine in every sector. Of course, businesses will need to embrace digitization but also put their customer needs in the front and centre to adapt swiftly. As Darwin said, survival of the fittest is the future!