scorecardresearch
The recovery for hospitality sector not going to be overnight, says Sudeep Jain of IHG Hotels & Resorts

The recovery for hospitality sector not going to be overnight, says Sudeep Jain of IHG Hotels & Resorts

Business Today spoke to Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South-West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts on the company's expansion plans, recent innovations and wedding campaigns.

 Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South-West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts. Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South-West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts.

Global hospitality giant IHG Hotels and Resorts, which owns brands such as Intercontinental Hotel and Holiday Inn, operates 39 hotels in the country including two Intercontinental Hotels, ten Crown Plaza hotels, 15 Holiday Inn and 13 Holiday Inn Express hotels. It has another 38 hotels in the pipeline. Business Today spoke to Sudeep Jain, Managing Director, South-West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts on the company's expansion plans, recent innovations and wedding campaigns. Excerpts:

Do you think the worst is behind us in terms of how the hospitality sector is now performing?

I think the worst is behind us. But is it a bed of roses going forward? No. The recovery is not going to be overnight; it is not going to be one big curve. It's going to be slow but as long as it is steady. The good thing is that every day now you are getting some positive news such as more vaccinations, more flights allowed to take off, no quarantine required, etc.

Also Read: Rebooting the hospitality sector for a post-COVID-19 world

When do you expect the hospitality sector to be back to pre-pandemic levels?

My guess is that it is going to take a bit of time, by 2023, once the fear factor is completely gone. What works for us is that we are predominantly a domestic market-driven company. Even pre-pandemic we catered mostly to the domestic tourists.

What are IHG's expansion plans in India? How many more hotels will we see within a year and over five years? Which are the brands that we will see more of?

Despite the challenges faced by the industry, we are well-poised to capitalise on the current market demand and are meaningfully expanding our presence across key markets in the country, with new signings and openings.

At present, we have 39 hotels in India across four of our brands and we are looking to add 38 more hotels to our portfolio in the next 2-3 years, which means our portfolio will see a 100 per cent growth. 

Our current pipeline is quite robust with 29 hotels under the Holiday Inn brand family, and also hotels under our luxury brand InterContinental, premium brand Crowne Plaza and our long stay brand Staybridge Suites which recently debuted in India. The first one will open in Bangalore. 

We also launched the first Six Senses Resort and Hotel just last month. Earlier this year, we announced the opening of Holiday Inn Zirakhpur Chandigarh, and Holiday Inn Goa Candolim more recently. 

Also Read: Maharashtra on course to become a top tourist destination, says state's Directorate of Tourism head

We signed Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Jalandhar to strengthen our footprint in Punjab, and Holiday Inn Express Pokhra Lakeside, in Nepal in March 2021.

We also see the growth potential of our global brands such as Regent, Kimpton and the recently launched Vignette Collection, and we look forward to introducing these at the right time with the right partners, and at the right location. 

Our upscale brand, voco is also a great fit for the Indian market and we are in talks with several partners and will launch the brand with the right opportunity.

The pandemic had the entire hospitality industry thinking out of the box. What are the various innovations introduced by IHG?

Of course, we also did the regular QR code menus in all our F&B establishments, mobile check-in/check-out etc. We had recently launched our intuitive, cloud-based solution, IHG Concerto. 

Conventional wisdom said that we should have slowed down the rollout during the pandemic but we have accelerated it. It allows us to bring together all our core hotel systems, providing the right mix of technology, data and functionality needed to improve stay experiences and help owners drive revenue and performance.

Additionally, we introduced offerings such as co-working spaces for guests in search of a safe yet convenient workspace away from their usual habitat. We also launched food delivery services and dial-a-chef services, which have been very popular among our guests.

Also Read: Tourism industry prepares for a surge in short, local trips
 
Could you tell us a little more about your wedding campaigns? What kind of success are you seeing? Could you share some figures?

Last year, we launched our wedding campaign keeping in mind the shift in trend from elaborate weddings to more intimate celebrations. Our teams across hotels have customised their venues and services to cater to these customised events, with a relentless focus on health and safety.

The campaign offered special inclusions like complimentary IHG Reward Points, room upgrades, stay vouchers for couples and discounts on various services. 

It received considerable traction before the second wave hit the country. Starting June 2021, with the stabilising situation, the wedding segment has once again taken the centre stage for our hotels and we have been receiving a number of enquiries and bookings. 

For instance, at Crowne Plaza Greater Noida, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of wedding events with the number almost doubling since last year. 

Additionally, we have seen more than a 30 per cent jump in the wedding APC (Average per Cover). We have seen a change in the wedding mix with an over 25 per cent increase in residential weddings.  

Published on: Nov 13, 2021, 1:44 PM IST
Posted by: Manali, Nov 13, 2021, 1:39 PM IST