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India to emerge as a good contributor for Starwood’s overseas hotels

Dhananjay S Saliankar, Regional Director – Starwood Sales Organisation, South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, talks about the growth in business from the Indian market for the hotel

How is the Indian outbound for Starwood? Which hotels/destinations are getting more Indian visitors?

From the business point of view, we have seen a good growth of about 30 per cent depending on destinations. There are two ways of getting business: direct and contract. Our traditional destination like Thailand has really grown followed by Malaysia and Singapore. This year, in the Asia Pacific, we have seen emergence of Bali, Vietnam and Cambodia. For Europe, Africa and Middle East, we have good business for our Dubai hotels. We have seen good growth to Spain and W Barcelona has taken a lot of new MICE business. Italy continues to lead the share of business. Moreover, South Africa is also growing and Westin Cape Town is getting increased popularity in the Indian market.

East European destinations are showing growing interest. We recently did a roadshow in Warsaw, Poland which might slowly open up. Macau has really done well this year and we have opened second tower of Sheraton Macau which is slowly being established in the Indian market. We are also signing new contracts for 2014.

In US, we have seen around 100 per cent growth in business (in terms of real traction) from a small base. US is attracting MICE, leisure (tour group) and FITs. Swan and Disney, W New York, Sheraton in NY Time Square, Sheraton on Falls in Niagara are some of the most popular hotels in India. We are working with almost every large operator in India. However, South East Asian destinations are really at the top.

Which are the emerging destinations for you?

We are seeing a lot of interest for China and Australia. We will also look at Japan and Korea. Last year, we started working for South America. Furthermore, we are talking to operators to roll out for South America. We are also looking at Canada. For all these new destinations, MICE is the driver. We are collating the date for the overall contribution of the Indian market.

What is your plan to draw more Indian numbers?

To further increase the number, we rolled out a series of initiatives globally to meet the specific needs of travellers from India. The new programme offers a range of amenities, food and services designed to make the Indian guests’ experience more comfortable. We have cultivated a loyal following among travellers within the country and now we’re focused on making them feel at home at our hotels across the globe. Indian familiar foods will be incorporated in menus for one. We are also focusing on customised wedding services that offer multiple options and venues for the various ceremonies. We have already done 50 Indian weddings with Sheraton Hua Hin in Thailand. Thailand is becoming the most popular wedding destination in India. Bali in Indonesia and Cambodia are also emerging as wedding destinations.

We have adopted aggressive strategies for tier-II cities in India for 2013 and 2014. We have grown business in the Ahmadabad market and have opened up in the Kolkata market as well. We are looking at Nagpur, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kochi and a portion of Goa.

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