#IndiaUnlocks: Fingers Crossed, Caterers Hopeful of Bounce-back Wedding Season

Industry Watch | July 29, 2021 | Feature

Parth Girdha

Alongside events, the catering industry was one of the worst hit during the Covid19 pandemic. The second wave that dealt a body blow to events, hospitality and tourism didn’t spare them either, with attendance at weddings and celebrations continuing to be capped across the country.

EVENTFAQS Media asked catering company owners about the impact of the second Covid wave, pivots to alternate revenues and outlook for the upcoming wedding season.

The questions we asked: How has the second wave of the Covid19 pandemic affected the catering business? Were you better prepared this time? Fine-dining at home was promoted by restaurants. What has been the caterers' experience? Were there avenues for you to make up for lost large events? How are the bookings looking for the end-2021 / early 2022 wedding season? How does  it compare to the last wedding season and the 2019-20 season before that?

Here is what respondents had to say.

'We're hoping to have a great wedding season ahead'
- Parth Girdhar, Director, Food Art Hospitality

Second wave of Covid19 took less than a week to wipe the wedding calendar clean for the next two to three months. The crash of the catering industry was faster and more severe than the first wave as people were more scared this time around and cancelled their events immediately. All in all, our industry is still bleeding while there are a few sectors that have picked up the pace.

We were definitely better prepared this time as we knew that the second wave was inevitable and we took more precautions as the safety of guests was our first priority and our team is our greatest asset so we couldn't risk it. We introduced the 'No ladle touch' concept and grab-and-go stations which were positively perceived by the guests. Thermal scans and RT PCR test reports were made mandatory for the team and guests before every event. We did struggle financially as we had done purchasing for the upcoming season right before the lockdown but the second wave had different plans for all of us.

We did quite a few sit-down bespoke dining events, luncheons, private events and home deliveries but they definitely didn't match up with the big events we were doing in the past. Our only option was to be patient and deal with the situation calmly. And, fortunately, as soon as the lockdown was lifted after the second wave, we had back-to-back weddings and even reception dinners for the couple who got married in the lockdown. The micro gatherings can't be compared with the big fat Indian weddings but now our focus is to get more volume of such gatherings.

We've a lot of inquiries floating for November and December as there are lots of auspicious dates. The wedding fraternity ran the campaign #HarDinShubhHai. However, people are still superstitious about the dates. Luckily, there are many wedding dates towards the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 and we're hoping to have a great wedding season ahead.

We can't really compare the coming season to the last wedding season right now because the third wave is also anticipated; we're keeping our fingers crossed, so no comments before the 2020-’21 season is over.

I feel all the upcoming wedding seasons would have no comparison with the wedding seasons of the pre-pandemic era. The comeback of the big fat Indian wedding season will surely take more time and deep down we've accepted this fact.

‘We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel’
- Akshay Khurana, Managing Partner, Ranch Cuisine Concepts

The second wave hit the wedding industry at the brink of the last saya dates of the season. Hence, we lost huge revenues from end-April and May. As far as preparedness is concerned, I don’t think anyone could have forecasted the extent of the wrath of the second wave. Hence, most businesses were unprepared.

Since the first wave itself, caterers have started exploring different avenues of revenue streams and most started with their version of a home delivery experience.  With that being said, we can never make up for the lost revenue from the larger events because the volumes of scale cannot be compared between the two. They are two absolute different segments and require a different structure at the backend from an operations standpoint. I wouldn’t deny that it has certainly helped us remain afloat in the worst times.

The future currently looks motivating and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. However, confidence will return over a period of time; there is still a lot of indecisiveness owing to the speculations on the third wave and restrictions from the government on larger gatherings. In comparison to the 2019-’20 season, we are a long way out before we reach pre-Covid revenue levels.

‘We would definitely have a bounceback season this year’
- Ishaan Kapoor, Founder and CEO, The Purple Plate

The catering business has been severely impacted by Covid19. Catering to bigger gatherings is really the business we are in and since the cap is still 50 people , it’s a very tough time for all caterers.

Being a catering company that does over 12 cuisines, we have chefs who can do world cuisine and thus we created exciting five-course meals called Care Packages. These were served in a huge serving tray by a unformed manager, making it very similar to in-room dining at luxury hotels.

Things look bright now for November-December 2021 but clients are a bit sceptical in giving advances due to the uncertainty of the situation. We are assuring clients a 100 percent refund or adjustment in case of Covid restrictions.

If things continue to improve the way they are, then we would definitely have a bounceback season this year, which we are really looking forward to.

EVENTFAQS Media asked catering company owners about the impact of the second Covid wave, pivots to alternate revenues and outlook for the upcoming wedding season.

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