Bengaluru: Reeling under single-digit occupancy with food and beverage outlets shut, Covid-hit star hotels in this tech city resorted to smart sales to ensure revenue flow amid lockdown.
"A star hotel near the airport is home delivering liquor and food to guests ordering them within a radius of 50 km. In the past 10 days or so, the hotel has sold Rs 30 lakh worth liquor," a hospitality executive told IANS.
What started initially as food orders delivery has slowly extended into liquor home delivery as well.
Though the Karnataka government has allowed bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels in non-Covid areas to sell their alcohol inventories at maximum retail price (MRP) since May 9, it did not authorize any entity to home to deliver liquor.
Hotels could only sell their liquor stocks at MRP following all Covid guidelines and not even serve at their premises.
Similarly, even e-commerce players also did not have permission to home deliver liquor.
"No form of liquor home delivery is allowed in Karnataka by any entity," state Excise Commissioner M. Lokesh has confirmed to IANS.
Venkata Raja, Additional Commissioner of Excise (Crime and Enforcement), has also confirmed that liquor home delivery was not known being allowed in the southern state.
Incidentally, a chain hotel on way to the city airport has tasked its employees to call up guests and offer liquor and food home delivery services.
"Hotel staff was given a list of 2,000 guest phone numbers to call up and offer food and liquor home delivery services at a minimum delivery charge of Rs 500 per order," said a source.
The food and beverage department staff need to generate sales from the guest database, share the menus on WhatsApp or other platforms by convincing and upselling as much as possible.
"Take the order from the guest, place it with the hotel. Share the bill with the guest for an easy online payment. A payment link is provided to the guest for a smooth transaction," said the source.
Minimum liquor order had been set at Rs 10,000, leading to many guests grouping together to send a combined order worth more than Rs 10,000 many times.
In the initial two days of delivering liquor, the hotel racked up sales worth 10 lakh from its guests.
"Significant amount of the old stock has been sold. New stock and new menu has been introduced," said the source.
The hotel has deputed 2-3 cars with delivery boys to stock them up with liquor bottles to be driven and delivered to the guests spread across the city.
When a customer called a star hotel in the city centre asking for the home delivery of a Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch whiskey bottle, it was promised in a day at a delivery charge of Rs 1,200, on the condition of ordering some food as well.
The hotel executive quoted a price of Rs 5,190 for a Black Label bottle.
If a guest cannot wait longer, the executive suggested ordering through a new e-commerce player which promises to deliver everything round the clock.
"Otherwise you can make an order through the e-commerce player. He will pick up your food and alcohol," confirmed the hotel executive to the customer.
Catering to food home delivery orders since a month already, the hotel has set a minimum order value of Rs 5,000, however, it has relaxed it to lower limits sometimes.
"Employees of different hotels from the same chain in the city used to exchange liquor orders among themselves depending on the vicinity of the order giver's address," said the source.
Including crossing toll gates, the hotel has delivered liquor orders to addresses as far as Electronic City though it principally catered to orders within a radius of 50 km from its location.
Among the 2,000 guests database, the hotel has zeroed in on some 100 - 150 high value patrons for special attention.
"The hotel needs to be in regular touch with the 100-150 potential high value customers who can buy more. Staff is regularly updating such guests with information on updates to the menus and new stock," said the source.
Liquor home delivery sales have surpassed in just two days what the hotel managed to sell with food in one month.
"The hotel was flooded with liquor orders that many deliveries had to be postponed for following days," said the source.
Such was the demand for liquor that in 15 minutes, the first guest, along with some of his friends gave a liquor order worth Rs 37,000.
A few helpful guests living in plush apartments and housing societies have endorsed and publicized the hotel's liquor home delivery service at MRP.
Innovatively, the hotel clubbed a bunch of orders originating from the same place to deliver each order adding the Rs 500 delivery charge, enabling the hotels to generate revenue beyond the margin on each bottle.
Interestingly, the hotel management was impressed with the way liquor home delivery sales picked up in value and volume.
Unlike a food order, liquor lasts longer, prompting many guests to grab the lockdown opportunity to stock more of whiskey, gin, rum, brandy, wine and others.
"Mildly scaring the guests that liquor sales may stop anytime would also result in bigger orders, benefitting the hotel ultimately," said the source.
Using the lockdown passes the hotel provided, the delivery boys did not find it difficult to ventures outside without an issue amid strict vigil by the police, the source added.
BY SHARON THAMBALA
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