From limiations to event capacity, there are several challenges that have suddenly arisen with the surge of Covid cases in the capital, but the industry is finding its way out to deal with the situation.

Two weeks ago, Aviral had booked 25 rooms at a Delhi hotel for his family members to stay for a December 5th wedding. Flight tickets have been booked, cards have been distributed and payments are done in advance for a 200-people wedding. Suddenly, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the permission to allow 200 people at weddings has been withdrawn to only 50 people. Aviral is clueless and so is the wedding industry in Delhi.

As the Capital enters peak wedding season, an industry that is already in trouble says it fears this could completely break its back. “Wedding bookings are being cancelled due to the limit reduction of guests. Some clients want to postpone the events to a later date when they can invite at least 200 guests to attend the celebrations,” said Bhavnesh Sawhney, Co-founder, FB Celebrations Pvt. Ltd, an events and weddings planning company.

With the limitations on venue and event capacity, there are several challenges that have suddenly arisen. Most people are either cancelling and postponing their weddings or going ahead with it at a much smaller scale. They are expecting advances back or agreed amounts to be drastically reduced.

“Some preparations and elements have already been arranged and paid for during the planning stage but are no longer needed to be used. Similarly, a lot of other associated vendors’ and artists’ dates are being released. Disinviting previously invited guests is an awkward conversation to have, but given the scenario, it is quite understandable,” Sawhney said.

For hotels in the capital, which were in the process of recovery and were pinning hopes on the wedding season for green shoots, the reduced number capping may lead them to do the brainstorming again.

“We may look at a delayed revival process rather than an effect on the revival process,” commented Kamesh Shukla, EVP and Head for APMEA-RateGain. He informed that India is at the moment at 82% of bookings compared to last year, and that is owed to multiple factors one of which is the upcoming wedding season.

According to Shukla, there is a chance that a certain segment of people will delay their weddings to Q1 calendar year 2021 for which hotels have already started offering special rates and book places in advance.

“Even before this cap was introduced hotels had come up with options of bundled pricing for a limited gathering wedding to ensure decent yield by offering all services under one roof to the family, to provide a hassle-free experience and ensure only reliable, COVID-safe providers are part of the wedding,” he added.

Respecting the government’s decision with the rising number of covid cases, ibis New Delhi Aerocity is coming up with various new ways to ensure small events taking place adhering to strict precautions.

“In the last few months, many travel trends like staycations and workations have gained popularity which will continue. It’s important hotels continue to re-think and re-imagine alternate revenue streams to meet the demands of the changing times,” Anant Leekha, Deputy General Manager, ibis New Delhi Aerocity said.

Leekha mentioned that since the size of the celebrations have substantially reduced, especially after the recent announcement, there is a growing demand for customized and personalized solutions in terms of F&B offerings, decor, accommodation etc. “We have a number of wedding and social events lined up for the next few months,” he said

With the permission of limited guest number, Amaara Farms in Delhi is advising its clients to invite guests in batches or slipt them in two functions. Shivan Gupta, the Founder of Amaara Farms feels that till the rising number of new cases doesn’t stabilize, a small, intimate affair is the key.

Amaara Farms have started with strict measures when it comes to number of guests and list management in October itself. This covered not just guests but the vendors as well. “We are even making our clients sign an understanding of our dos and donts to help us comply with all the necessary measures. Additionally, the limited human touch and sanitization are the mandatory practices. With the current change, the only alteration is the number of guests and all our services remain the same,” Gupta mentioned.

These unprecedented times have pushed the professionals across segments to innovate and simplify. Same goes for the wedding and hospitality industry to stay relevant in the current times. “There’s been a downward trend and we aren’t recording to see a recovery till the first half of 2021,” Gupta added.

While the new regulations and updates will continue to pinch the industry, the industry understands that it will be a bitter medicine towards healing.

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Sakshi Singh