Industry News

  • Youth Connect
  • Date: 2015-08-24
  • Fresh approach, new techniques, and uncomplicated solutions- Well that’s Gen Y for you. The world with changing times has seen or rather witnessed how slowly and steadily the young turks are taking over the industry with a bang. Hospitality industry being no exception to this trend is now welcoming the younger lot with open arms.
    By | Rachita Sehgal

    NIRUPA SHANKAR
    Director,
    Brigade Hospitality Services

     


    I am a second generation entrepreneur. Brigade Group was founded by my father MR Jaishankar in 1986. Growing up, there was no pressure to join the family business. My family gave me the freedom to explore my various interests. I went to The US for my undergraduate studies at the age of 18. While studying, I explored different industries such as mergers and acquisitions, hospitality and advertising through internships. However, upon graduating I was offered a consulting role with Ernst & Young LLP, New York which gave me exposure to best practices in various industries. Post this stint I pursued my masters in hospitality, during which time Brigade group launched its first hotel, The Grand Mercure in Bangalore. Now, it was time for me to decide between pursuing hospitality with another brand or joining the family business.  And I decided to step into the business as we were just beginning to expand an exciting hospitality portfolio. I have now been actively working in the business for the past six years.

     


    Being the next generation entrepreneur, before joining the business I had done my research and had my mind full of new ideas, concepts and new things I wanted to bring in. Coming from an analytical background, I was keen to bring in data analytics for better decision making. I like the discipline that numbers bring to a business. As the saying goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So the first thing I did was to create Key Metrics for our business in order to easily track performance and improvements. As a qualified Six Sigma Black Belt, I took up two large cost reduction drives to enhance profitability by optimising energy as well as food and beverage costs across the hospitality division.

     


    The business environment is changing very rapidly in terms of customer expectation and technology utilised to provide B2B and B2C services. However, I think there is a lot yet to be learned from the first generation. There is no substitute for experience and while it is a challenge to keep up with technology it is easier to grasp the new trends when compared to the learning’s from doing business for 30-35 years Brigade Group’s hospitality’s portfolio has the widest range of products and services offered when compared to any other developer in the country. The company owns and manages:

     

     

    1.    Hotels
    •    Grand Mercure Bangalore
    •    Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway
    2.    Lifestyle Membership Clubs
    •    Woodrose
    •    Augusta
    •    Galaxy
    •    Regent
    3.    Convention Centres
    •    MLR Convention Centre – JP Nagar
    •    MLR Convention Centre – JP Nagar
    4.    Serviced Apartments
    •    Homestead Serviced Residences
    5.    Standalone Restaurants
    •    HIGH Ultra Lounge

     

     

    Apart from this we have launched two more initiatives – a catering and event management company called ‘Celebrations’ that provides outdoor catering, industrial catering, banquets and event management services. In just two years the company has doubled its revenue and looks to grow exponentially in the years ahead. We also launched ‘The Baking Company (TBC)’ two years ago. We currently have four outlets with plans to launch four more this year. This fiscal, we will also be doubling our room inventory with the addition of two hotels and a resort. The Grand Mercure Mysore, the Holiday Inn Chennai and the Signature Club Resort in Bangalore will all open before the fiscal year end. 

     

     

    The future of the hospitality industry looks very strong and positive. Consumer expectations with regards to ‘value for money’ are on the rise. Consumers are making more direct bookings, slowly eliminating the need for a middle man. The market is also undergoing maturation with the introduction of products across segments and the evolution of Air b’n’b-like websites pervading the market. Room aggregators will be game changers in the industry giving traditional hotels a run for their money. The hospitality industry is going through a metamorphosis and it is an exciting phase to be involved in it. New restaurants and concepts are being added every other day. Despite the large amounts of negative press on the lack of demand for hotel rooms, the hotels under development are only increasing and number of hotel rooms will double over the next five to seven years. The market should able to absorb the added supply, with time and the right boost to infrastructure, travel, trade and tourism.

     

     

    NIKHIL SHARMA
    Chief Operating Officer- East, 
    Central and West, The Lemon Tree Hotel Company
    I was the first one in my family to get into hotel industry and so, I am the first generation hotelier. I am in the hotel business since last six years. When I first joined, I was like a sponge and kept soaking in new learning and the environment, to be honest, I didn’t want to change anything as I did not understand the business back then; today I feel while hotel models keep evolving with the times, what one needs to get right is a team with the right attitude to help achieve the desired goals.

     


    The Lemon Tree Hotel Company (LTH) is India’s fastest growing chain of upscale, midscale and economy hotels. This award winning Indian hotel chain was founded in September 2002 by Patu Keswani and currently owns and operates 27 hotels in 16 cities with over 3000 rooms and 3500 employees. This speedy growth has made the group the 3rd largest hotel chain in India by owned rooms. By 2017-18, Lemon Tree will own and operate over 8000 rooms in 60 hotels across 30 major cities of India including Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dahej, Dehradun, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Manesar, Muhamma (Kerala), Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Purulia, Shimla, Trichy, Udaipur and Vadodara to name a few.

     


    I see the hotel industry evolving like the west and the market getting bigger with more disruptive companies coming in. I see an increase in the customer base which will catapult tourism into an integrated industry rather than fragmented state we are currently in. There is a market for everyone and we should receive new companies and ideas with open arms, we will see a tremendous growth in the iindustry.

     


    Have patience, make sure you are learning and evolving yourself. Believe in yourself and Brand India and give back to society in your own way. At Lemon Tree Hotels inclusivity and diversity is a big piece, we are equal opportunity employers and hire Persons with Disabilities to work shoulder to shoulder with our fully abled work force. I am a big believer in this and I am a part of the core team that drives this initiative at Lemon Tree. I know that if each one us would develop respect for the other and respect dignity for labour the world would truly be one happy global place we would be proud of.

     

     

    ROHIT VIG
    Manging Director - India,
    StayWell Hospitality Group
    Being in the Hospitality industry was part of my retirement plan. I always wanted to own and operate a beach front resort in the Caribbean or by the riviera in the South of France. I was born and brought up in Dubai and my family frequently visited the sprawling luxury resorts that were popping up every year in the middle east and around the world. The serenity of the sea and the promise of world class service standards was something that I always enjoyed. Being an entrepreneur was instilled in me by my father when I was growing up as he would take me to his construction sites and support his employees who would be working under tough climatic conditions. I saw what success meant through his hard work and persistence to become the largest contracting companies in the UAE. I started in the real estate development business developing luxury villas for single users when I moved back into India and only got my first taste of being a hotel consultant in 2006.

     

    During 2006 and 2010 several international operators setup base in India and the existing operators were on an expanding spree. Only large firms worked in this space at that time and I was always convinced that Indians are used to personalisation and utmost care when they are signing expensive assets with operators and that’s what I wanted to provide through a boutique advisory firm. I setup a hospitality consulting company called Terra Firma India which specialised in feasibility studies and operator searches. This company was instrumental in doing deals for brand like Hilton, Taj, StarWood, ITC and several new entrants like Moevenpick and Accor. In 2011 I met Simon Wan and Bal Sohal, Promoters and owners of StayWell, who wanted to setup hotels for StayWell Group in India. And, they gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse and helped StayWell make its mark in this dynamic country where the language and food changes every 100 km you travel. In 2012 we setup StayWell Hospitality Management and today we have signed 11 hotels in India under the two brands we operate, Park Regis and Leisure Inn.

     


    We operate two brands under the StayWell banner. Park Regis which is our upscale brand and Leisure Inn operates in the mid segment space. After opening of our third hotel in India successfully last month, we will have the following rolling out shortly. Properties currently under development in India:

    •    Leisure Inn Bhaskara Hyderabad (2015)
    •    Park Regis Goa, North Goa (2015)
    •    Leisure Inn Apartments, Greater Noida (2016)
    •    Leisure Inn VSR Apartments Sector 114, Gurgaon (2016)
    •    Leisure Inn VSR Apartments Sector 68, Gurgaon (2016)
    •    Park Regis Greater Noida (2017)
    •    Leisure Inn Raipur, Raipur (2017)

     

     

    We have signed term sheets in Mumbai, Chennai and Amritsar and should be able to lock them into final form agreements over next couple of month. Some of these hotels are operational and will require the 3 R’s - Rebrand, Refurbish and Relaunch successfully back in the market. We would like to have our benchmark set at 25 hotels over next few years and I am proud to say we have achieved about 50 per cent of the target already. Our next target is to get to 100 hotels worldwide. We are currently negotiating several acquisitions and joint ventures to successfully lock in our next targets both in India and overseas. 

     


    Sales and Marketing which determines the constant growth of all business has changed from it traditional outlook. It has become more dynamic and real time. Now you can connect to your users on a press of a button through social media and attract feedback with clear segmentation. I know a lot of hotels around the world offering paperless check inn along with apps in the room that take care of each of your needs. We have a young sales and marketing team. The elder generations still understand the core business very well and that’s why we have an extremely experienced finance and operations team. As I started working at the age of 21, I have seen the transition. We were one of the few families to own a computer when we moved back from overseas in 1994 and today who can imagine life without being ‘connected’. I have always been an entrepreneur and didn’t have the option but to start all my own businesses since I moved back from the US after finishing my undergrad and working there for one year. I lost my father when I was 12, that’s when we moved back from Dubai and I had no other option but to continue his legacy of making businesses successful. I started from scratch in a small office out of my house to make sure costs were aligned with revenues.

     


    The future has to be mid market oriented and technology led for the hotel industry.
    India is a growing economy and will become one of the largest economies in the world over by the next 15 to 20 years. The country has domestic growing annual travelling population of 650 million travellers, representing enormous growth opportunities for accommodation providers which are very apparent to all the hotel operators. In addition, low cost carrier airlines with increasing passenger’s capacities provide unprecedented travel opportunities within India, further creating higher demand, with at present, limited good quality supply of hotel accommodation for the mid-scale market.

     


    The future will see the evolution of many interesting trends in technology, as guests are now seeking higher levels of personalisation and customidation. In an effort to address the problem of homesickness that many guests feel, some hotels are taking measures to make the stay more home-like with simple home-styled food and allowing guests to customise their rooms.
    Training and sensitisation of the staff is important for dealing with the long staying guests. It ranges from knowing the guest preferences, dietary requirements and offering personalised services without being intrusive. All this can be monitored on real time basis today by technology.

     

     

    DHANANJAY SINGH
    Director,
    Pachar Group Hotels
    My family has been connected with the hospitality industry since last two decades. It has been a part of my learning from the initial years itself. Being bought up in a family of hoteliers. I was exposed to the culture at a very young age. 
    Gradually, while studying hotel management I started working part time in the hotel industry. I was working as a trainee at the Taj Hari Mahal at Jodhpur. The experience was very challenging and while pursuing my MBA from England, I began working at the London Marriot Hotel Maida Vale.

     


    I also worked for the Hilton London Canary Wharf Hotel. On-job training was an integral part of our family. Even in the initial years when I joined my own company, no specials privileges were given to me. It was hard work and I was exposed to grass root level work which made me interact with all levels of our team.

     


    Hospitality abroad and in India in terms of work has a complete different environment and to adapt to it was very challenging. There was a lot to learn but the experience was very enjoyable, although demanding.

     


    I also got an opportunity to work within the marketing team of my company as we keep participating in acclaimed International Travel Fairs like WTM London and ITB Berlin. It gave me a lot of exposure because of the interactions with the travel agents at large. 

     


    There has to be a synergy about blending in the experience of the older generation and supporting it with the modernity in terms of adapting to changes. There are always conflicts or as I can say creative differences as we both belong to a different era. Hotels no longer operate like they used to 25 years back. A lot has transformed. Hence, it is important for us to reach at a conclusive point where both expertise are utilised to generate maximum output. The older generation has the expertise to guide and can be best utilised to make best use of the modern technology as they have experience if not the trade knowledge. Hospitality is all about common sense. With skill imparted training programs and the experience from the older generation both can make a unique and prosperous combination.

     


    The industry totally looks upbeat to me and I feel that there is huge potential in the tourism industry. The purchasing power of the domestic market has increased. There is more awareness of places which was not prevalent earlier. There has been an increase in single lady travellers. The whole dynamics of the tourism industry has changed. Taking our own example, hotels in Rajasthan considered the harsh summer months of April, May and June as an off season. This year itself right from April till date we have seen 95 per cent occupancy especially during weekends at our resort in Pushkar. Same as for Goa, where monsoons were times very rarely visited by tourist. Now they promote Monsoon packages for Goa which are doing very well. Our market is not only dependant on expats but a new market of domestic travellers is increasing. All tier II cities too are been explored as there is a huge scope. Destination weddings are becoming a fad. People want to have weddings in exotic locations, due to budget constraints or by simply doing something different and out of the box. Medical and Wellness tourism is on the rise too.

     


    All our resorts and hotels are  theme based. Our founder hotel at our ancestral home is a Heritage property called Castle Pachar. Hotel Hari Mahal Jaipur is also in the same league. The concept of Aaram Baagh is based on world civilisation theme depicting eras of Persian, Egyptian, Greek cultures. To add, we also have Arabian Tent Style Suite cottages too. We further plan to add Chinese, Mayan (South American) cultures to our rooms inventory. We want our guest to enjoy the luxury in the lapse of seeing history as well. Similarly, we are coming up with a Hotel in Agra depicting the Mughal Era, our hotel in Maheshwar will have the Maurya Era emphasising on King Ashoka’s regime. Our Hotel in Sanchi has its emphasis on Buddha era.



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