1. When Rajesh Khubchandani thinks about 2023, all he sees are opportunities.
The general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, a luxury landmark property in downtown Sarasota on Sarasota Bay, says people remain experience-seekers when it comes to travel coming out of the pandemic. "They’re still looking for opportunities to go out and fulfill their desires to get a great vacation or business visit,” he says.
Of course, some aspects of life have changed, like remote working. With people working from home all the time, a change of scenery is necessary. But Khubchandani has been noticing vacation days aren’t always necessary.
Enter a trend he expects to continue into 2023: redefining vacations and working from home by a combination of leisure and work travel.
2. Still, some things are returning to pre-pandemic normal for the hospitality industry.
“The way of doing business face-to-face is very much back,” Khubchandani says. He’s started noticing an uptick of business travel, with larger groups of individuals getting together to celebrate wins and recognize performance.
In response, the hotel has brought back in-person events like certain holiday traditions held prior to the pandemic. That's been met with support, as Khubchandani says hundreds of people showed up for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
But not everything is going back to how it was pre-pandemic. One example: a push to dial-up curated experiences.
“From a food and beverage standpoint, people are particular about what they’re eating,” Khubchandani says. “Chefs are coming up with healthy options and giving guests the choice to curate their own dining experience. Post-pandemic we really allowed for the consumer to have deeper choices to fulfill their unique situation so it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
3. Even with a potential economic slowdown, Khubchandani remains positive about the coming year.
“We think that wanderlust for travel is still very strong,” he says. “But we do have to be careful that there could be some short-term economic pain in the process.”
With multiple revenue streams, Khubchandani says he’s focused on making sure the Ritz continues to offer the “right mix of business” to prepare for a downturn.
So while offerings like weddings may still be offered, “People," he says, "are going to get married no matter what, right?” other aspects of business may not make sense for the time being.
“We’re also smart about managing costs,” he says. “We look at all of our contracts and all the things that cause inflation in our business model, and we try to create some predictability in how we manage those costs by locking in pricing.”