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Carlson aims 100 hotels by 2015

  • 12 September 2012

Recognising the potential for growth across the country, Carlson Rezidor is set to expand to ensure its position among industry leaders in India. Carlson Rezidor Hotel, which currently operates 55 hotels in India, will add seven more to its portfolio this year. The Group aims to have 100 hotels by 2015. K.B. Kachru, Executive Vice President, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, talks about India expansion plan as well as the current scenario of the Indian hotel industry.

What marketing strategy are you going to put in place to drive occupancy in your hotels in the wake of the dwindling global economic scenario?

We have not seen a significant impact on our business. However, we remain vigilant of the situation and are continuing with our marketing strategy of investing in our brands and rolling out initiatives to drive revenue to our hotels. We have recently announced the launch of the Turning The World Blu brand campaign in Asia Pacific with an investment of US$ three million for the period of 2011 and 2012 to build brand awareness for Radisson Blu. This is part of a global brand campaign which Carlson Rezidor is investing USD7million for the first time. In addition, our Asia Pacific Hot Deals promotion campaign, where travellers can enjoy up to 30 per cent off best available rates, is currently running and is very popular with travellers.

A lot of foreign chains are expanding their operations in India. How do you view the competition and what is Carlson’s strategy to maintain its leadership position in India?

The Indian market continues to be under-supplied and most of the inventory is unbranded. Travellers are increasingly looking for value in accommodation. We need another 180,000 rooms over the next decade to fulfill the demand potential across the country. Given that the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP is expected to grow by 8.1 per cent by 2021, we believe that there is massive growth potential with the right hotel brand for the right market segment. We are committed to India and have demonstrated a strong growth momentum in 2011 and will continue to build on this. Our knowledge of India, together with excellent partners and a strong brand portfolio, we are confident we will continue to lead the industry here.

MICE and banqueting is emerging as a one of the major contributors for hotels in India. How important is this segment for Carlson’s hotels in India and what kind of facilities are you planning for your upcoming properties?

MICE is a very lucrative segment for hotels. With an increase in corporate spending and business travel, we are looking to design hotels with substantial meeting and conference facilities to cater to the market demand. Also, with the growth of tier II and III cities, there is an excellent opportunity for expanding business in the corporate and MICE segments. We have been focusing on secondary and tertiary cities and are customising the development of facilities depending on the characteristics and potential of the location. We see MICE as a big demand generator in the coming years especially in locations where new avenues such as sports and adventure tourism, wildlife safaris, rural tourism, eco tourism etc are being explored.

Do you think that there is enough scope for all your existent brands in India?

India continues to be a fast growing business and leisure destination with substantial demand in every market segment. Presently, India is under-supplied in the mid-market segment and there is a growing demand for upscale and first class hotels. In line with such trends we see India as a key market for all of our brands.

How many hotels will be in Carlson’s India’s portfolio by 2015?

As per our Ambition 2015 strategy, we are aspiring to have over 100 hotels in operation. These will be evenly spread across our brands. Currently, we see a big demand for our Country Inn & Suites By Carlson and Park Inn by Radisson brands. We expect the Indian portfolio for these brands to rise substantially by 2015. We will also continue to grow our Radisson Blu, Radisson and Park Plaza brands strategically across the country.

What is the Carlson’s India expansion plan and how many hotels you are planning to open in 2012?

We are currently the largest international hotel operator in India, with 55 hotels in operation and another 44 under development. In line with our global strategic plan Ambition 2015, we opened 18 hotels across the country in 2011 and have another 14 openings planned for 2012. During 2012, we have already opened seven hotels in key locations such as Chennai, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Goa, Nagpur and Kandla. We are also currently seeking opportunities with partners to develop Park Inn by Radisson hotels in other parts of India, apart from north and central regions. In addition to this we renewed our master franchise agreement with Country Development Management Services for the development of Country Inn & Suites brand across India. Currently, we have a portfolio of almost 30 hotels with them and expect that to grow substantially in the future.

How would you explain the growth potential of the Indian hotel industry?

India is one of the fastest growing hospitality markets in the world. We believe that the long term prospects and fundamentals of the Indian market are strong and we are confident that the growth will continue. To underscore our commitment to India, we have recently announced a partnership with Bestech Hospitalities to invest US$42 million in a joint venture to develop the first two next generation Park Inn by Radisson hotels. In addition, the partnership will see the development of a total of 49 Park Inn by Radisson properties in north and central India by 2024.

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