Waxpol wins big at WTM

Waxpol Hotels & Resorts has won the TRAVTALK -WTM World Travel Leaders Award Akanksha Garg, Director & CEO, Waxpol Hotels & Resorts, shares what made the big win possible.

Nisha Verma

Waxpol Hotels & Resorts was given this honour because it set up a COVID-19 taskforce to help its teams stay safe, providing access to medical care if needed, and extending additional financial support. Furthermore, it worked with others in the industry to develop COVID-19 guidelines and training for homestays, camps, resorts, and hotels.

Looking at 2022
Speaking to TravTalk, Akanksha Garg shares that while international borders were closed during the lockdown, it was domestic travellers that kept the business going for them. “We are just waiting to get international travellers back. It is exciting to know that our agents around the world are checking on our staff’s itineraries, safety protocols, and vaccination status. We used the COVID period to innovate and design curated itineraries for much smaller and more focused groups, “she said.

Rebuild, reconnect and innovate
Agreeing that no one was prepared for a global pandemic, she said, “We have a very small team, which is used to multi-tasking. Our biggest USP is that we were able to work from home, and apart from curating new itineraries, we could come up with the concept of education for the children. We adopted three schools and focused on girls’ education because, usually in India, girls are stopped from going to school after reaching puberty because of a lack of proper sanitation facilities. We rebuilt toilets, got chairs and tables, and made a playground too, to encourage them to go to school. We are located on the periphery of the national parks, and all locals are dependent on working in tourism. While there was no money coming in, it was the financial planning for the whole team over the years that helped us sail through. Whatever profits we had made, we reinvested in the business, and started giving out sustenance pay to the whole team. This allowed them to take care of the households. Hence, they did not get motivated to go out and poach,” she explained.

Training the locals
Garg gives all the credit to her team. “During COVID, they trained the locals in the region and encouraged them to get vaccinated,” she added.

“We must take care of our people. We created a COVID taskforce in the company. We had a doctor on call to attend to our staff and their families on video conferencing, and medicines were being couriered from city to city. We could save around 25 lives with this initiative. Apart from that, she says, “There was so much non-biodegradable , we had a green team that took the initiative of segregating it, fixing it up on a system to dispose it, and getting in touch with different authorities that helped local communities. ” In places like the Sunderbans, which were remote, they did a pandemic drive and distributed masks, food, and medicine to the local villages as they were not only distressed by COVID, but by certain cyclones affecting the region as well.

Future forward
Marketing for the future, Garg shares that they already follow their company’s motto of reducing, reusing, and recycling. “Our biggest USP is that all our properties are spread over large expanses of greenery. We have a small number of rooms, ranging from 12 to 21, each spread over approximately 600 sq ft with natural light coming in,” she elaborates.

“We inform tourists that luxury is in being minimalistic, being in nature, not creating waste, and trying local food hence, giving an opportunity to the local farmer to grow local vegetation. We are encouraging local produce and experiences like bird watching, observing local insects, and even knowing about local festivals & offerings, “she adds.

She further said that to attract inbound again, India needs to picture itself as a COVID-safe destination. “We need to focus on India being a major adventure tourism destination as well as, for both soft and hard tourism. Secondly, India shouldn’t be considered only a mass-tourism destination, one should make long trips of at least 10 days,” she said.

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