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With Active Pipeline of 29 Hotels, We Aim At 8000 Operational Keys Portfolio: Suhail Kannampilly

The hospitality sector is undergoing an unstoppable transformation, redefining the way we experience leisure and travel. From innovative technology integration to a heightened focus on sustainable practices, every day brings new dimensions to the art of hospitality, creating enriching and personalized guest experiences.

Suhail Kannampilly, Managing Director, The Fern Hotels & Resorts, talks to T3 about the current scenario.

How has the response been for The Fern Hotels & Resort in terms of average occupancy, ARRs, and RevPar, and your expectations from FY24?

I’m delighted to share that our performance till September 2023 has been exceptionally positive. Our Average Room Revenue (ARRs) have shown robust growth of around 10% while occupancies are also stable. Given the occupancies had already picked last year, there was little headroom for it to go further this year. Hence occupancies were more or less the same as that of last year. Given the rise in ARRs, our Revenue per Available Room (RevPar) has also seen impressive gains, indicating a healthy financial performance. Looking ahead to FY24, we are extremely optimistic about our prospects. We anticipate continued growth in all key performance indicators.

What is the current operational profile, expansion plan for the brand, and cities/offbeat locations on the radar?

We currently manage 103 hotels & resorts with around 5600 keys across 85 destinations in India making us the 10th largest branded hotel chain operator in India. With an active pipeline of 29 hotels which are in various stages of completion, we are looking at being 8000 operational keys portfolio within next couple of years.

While we want to consolidate our positions in our existing geographies including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka and others, we are actively looking to enter into new markets in both domestic and international locations.

Few of the locations we would be soon opening hotels include Kota (Rajasthan), Hatgad – Saputara, Jalna, Latur (Maharashtra), Bodhgaya (Bihar), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), etc. We have several exciting cities and offbeat locations on our radar, all of which present unique opportunities for our brand.

What is the share of the F&B, MICE, and weddings segment in your overall business?

Around 35% of total revenues at consolidated portfolio level is derived from F&B itself. The F&B, MICE, and weddings segments are thriving and integral to our business at The Fern Hotels & Resorts wherein many of our properties are MICE and wedding destinations including 110 keys Ibiza The Fern Kolkata, 169 keys The Fern Sardar Sarovar Resort – Statue of Unity Kevadia, 81 keys Grand Victoria The Fern Panchgani, 80 keys The Fern Lonavala, etc. We’ve seen remarkable growth and positive contributions from these areas.

How important are OTAs and travel agents for your overall business?

Online Travel Agencies and travel agents contribute significantly to our overall business, helping us reach a broader audience and fill our rooms. They provide us with a strong presence in the online market and connect us with travellers from around the world. Our approach is to maintain a healthy balance between OTAs, travel agents, and direct bookings, ensuring that we can provide exceptional hospitality to a wide range of guests.

What new elements are you planning to incorporate into your marketing strategies?

Firstly, we will focus on leveraging data and analytics to gain deeper insights into guest preferences, allowing us to personalize our offerings even further. Secondly, sustainability will remain a core theme in our marketing, showcasing our eco-friendly practices and responsible tourism initiatives. Additionally, we’ll continue to harness the power of social media and digital platforms to engage with our guests and provide them with real-time updates and offers. Lastly, partnerships and collaborations with like-minded brands and influencers will be a significant part of our strategy to expand our reach.

How are you planning to incorporate the potential of AI in your business?

We plan to utilize AI for personalized guest recommendations, chatbots for instant guest support, and data analysis to make informed decisions. AI will not only streamline processes but also allow us to anticipate and exceed guest expectations. We see AI as a valuable tool in our commitment to delivering excellence in the hospitality industry.

What measures are you taking on the sustainability front?

We have implemented a range of initiatives including energy-efficient technologies, water conservation practices, waste reduction, and promoting local and organic sourcing. We are also dedicated to community engagement and education on sustainable practices. Our commitment to sustainability aligns with our vision for responsible and eco-conscious hospitality.






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