The first edition of Tres RARE provided a platform for unique, and small boutique hotels
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: April 9, 2018
It’s a by-invite show that caters to select travellers. It is exactly the kind of catnip luxury tourism players can rarely resist. The maiden edition of Très RARE - a showcase of some of the most select boutique hotels, lodges, hideaways, camps and retreats in India, Nepal and Bhutan - proved to be exactly that.
The two-day event was envisaged and instituted by RARE India, a platform for small, private hotels. “This is a platform for boutique hotels to speak about their properties, their experiences,” said Sowmya R Vijaymohan, Partner at RARE India, who says these hotels get lost in a larger fair, where big chain hotels, with larger budgets, tend to get more attention. “They need a voice, they need to be standing together and saying this is why we are different. Do not mistake us for a bed & breakfast or a chain hotel.”
The ‘by invite only’ event, held outdoors at The Roseate, Delhi, engaged with bespoke tour operators from India and overseas, alongside an eclectic mix of world travellers. “Not everybody understands the concept of boutique hotels. We are looking at the niche, discerning traveller,” said Ms Vijaymohan.
She mentions that most of these hotels do not have advertising spends, nor are they active online. “Most of them are offbeat, for example, Shahpura Haveli in Bhilwara. No one is going to search for a Bhilwara, they will search for a Jaipur or Udaipur. So, there is no way for them to market themselves, so the domestic agent or the DMC is a good dissemination point for these boutique hotels.
Kannan Sridhar, General Manager, Swatma, in Thanjavur was pleased to be at the fair. “We can meet many people at one time. Here, within two days, we were able to cover a minimum of hundred agents. Also, people exactly know what they want here. Those who come to me know about the property, it is easy to meet one to one. That gives us more confidence to participate.”
“It has helped us engage with people who sell luxury,” Deepak Jenna, Corporate General Manager, The Machan, Lonavala, said. For us, Bombay is the main market, this is an exposure, we get to know people from Delhi.”
“The fair is helpful to meet people, even if we are in touch with them,” said Urvashi Kanojia, Assistant Manager – Travel Trade Relations, CGH Earth, which has 19 hotels spread largely across south India. “We even met some direct customers.”
The hoteliers were eager to talk about their hotels. Gokul Bakshi, who runs Champakali, an exquisite collection of two three-bedroom structures in old Goa, said, “We provide a very different approach to Goa, with angles that are more private, and give a lot of peace, even to us. It gives you access to the other side of Goa, which is quite forgotten these days.”
Anand Jeyan of Pepper Trail, Wayanad says his four-room inventory is so off the grid that a platform like this helps to connect with people. A colonial plantation, surrounded by the tropical rainforests, lakes and acres of plantations, it transports visitors to another era. Yes, he is looking to expand both his inventory and invite more guests, hence this long trip to faraway Delhi.
With the participation of select 100 Indian Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and 30 foreign operators from the UK, US, France, Germany, and Italy, this event focused on intensive one-on-one engagement, knowledge building and innovations. Close interactions with the hotel owners and hosts was followed by eleven hosted familiarisation trip across India. The event also hosted talks on hospitality and related topics to add value to the concept of experiential travel in the sub-continent.
50 participants set up stalls at the event. Some of the hotels which participated at Tres RARE were RAAS Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Bhainsrorgarh Fort, Rajasthan, Hotel Druk, Bhutan, Pepper Trail, Kerala, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Nepal, Deccan Odyssey and many more.
"The event was a tribute to all the bespoke boutique hotels,” said Ms Vijaymohan. “The demand for boutique hotels is reflective of the realigned desires of a global traveller who is wary of the standard-fare hotels that though comfortable are unimaginatively identical around various destinations. These boutique hotels inspired us at RARE to break away from the traditional and create an intimate showcase that focuses on the niche rather than the mass and mainstream.”
RARE India has hosted similar events earlier, but they have been only for their members. This event saw the participation of ten hotels which are not RARE members. The show – held outdoors in tents due to the activity and experience-oriented nature of the wares on offer – was a success, which is evident from the fact the dates for next year’s event are already decided - March 29 and 30.