‘Post-pandemic, there has been a growth in domestic travel’

S.P. Jain, Founder and Managing Director, Pride Group of Hotels talks about his life, the challenges he faced en route and emerging victorious with hard work and dedication

Rarely do you come across someone who would acquire a sick or failed project, renovate and then turn it around into a profit-making venture. Well, S.P. Jain, the managing director of Pride Group of Hotels is surely one of those exceptional entrepreneurs. Aided by the experience he gained during the early years of his career as a management consultant where he handled various manufacturing projects for different clients, Jain came across the hospitality sector while working on other projects. And he instantly understood that this was something that suited his project management and financial management skills. 

“I started researching on almost a dozen Indian cities on different parameters: growth and scope of the hospitality industry as well Greenfield projects. My project management and financial management skills helped me during this period. I opted for two methods. First, I acquired sick or failed hotel projects due to financial management. I renovated and converted them into five-star hotels and second, whichever locations were focussed, we developed Greenfield projects,” says Jain. 

Since the hotel industry is highly capital based, Jain decided to go for an asset-light model. “By then, we had established our brand on a pan-India basis. The acquisitions, Greenfield projects on an ownership basis and asset-light models on a management basis under our brand umbrella has given us grand success. We have a presence at around 30 locations across India and the Pride Group of Hotels boasts of 3000-plus rooms, 61 restaurants, 84 banquets and conference halls under brand names: Pride Plaza Hotel, an Indian Luxury Collection; Pride Hotel, a Business Hotel Solution; Pride Resorts at select Indian destinations and mid-market hotels under Pride Biznotel brand name,” he informs. 

Life and challenges 

Born in a remote rural area in the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, Jain struggled hard to complete his middle-level education and travelled 26 miles every day to Sagar to complete his higher education. But then he studied hard and worked harder to achieve success and make a name for himself and The Pride Group of Hotels. “Initially, there were a few hotels in every city. With the benefit of leading hotels in the small cities in the past, we created our own market. With the remarkable success of our first Pune hotel, the second one was set up in Nagpur. It was followed by Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi. The Pride Group kept expanding by adding hotels and resorts on joint ventures and management basis,” says Jain. 

On the changes and challenges the pandemic brought to Pride Hotels and Resorts’ plans of becoming one of the leading hotel chains in the country, Jain tells us, “The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit ones. When the world came to a halt in March 2020, we tried to make sense of the new normal. As the saying goes, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’, we too decided to change our approach to look at the business. With each passing day, we tried and are still working towards making it more sustainable and digitally advanced. We continued to grow our business and have started rolling out technologies to be more energy-efficient along with green technology.” 

Revisit and re-emerge 

While the hotel business was among the most impacted ones by the pandemic, the period allowed people to revisit the business model and emerge stronger. As Pride Group of Hotels had major expansion plans nationally, primarily targeted towards Tier 2 and 3 cities before Covid-19 entered our lives, did Jain have to make any changes to the strategies for the same? “Going forward, there is immense potential for Tier 2 and 3 cities. The growth in domestic travel post-pandemic has increased and people are looking for affordable yet best experiences. Locations like Goa, Agra, Udaipur and Rajkot are of immense potential and ample can be done at these destinations. Recently, we have signed up for our Daman, Dapoli, Aatapi and Mussoorie properties,” puts Jain. 

The founder of the Pride Group of Hotels feels there has been a change in consumer behaviour, from pre- to the post-pandemic situation. “Now with luxury, safety is equally important. Hospitality groups are taking time and re-strategising on how to ensure efficient consumer service and safety. During the pandemic, the hospitality industry was looking for short-term gain strategies, but we focussed on value creation for the years ahead,” he explains. 

Offers and discounts  

Talking about Pride Hotels and Resorts’ offers Pride Mart and Turn Booking Into EMI, Jain shares, “The idea behind introducing these packages was to provide worry-free staycations to the guests. The message to our patrons is very straightforward: when they feel it’s the right time and they decide to plan their travel, we will be ready to help them out in every step possible. Facilitating vacay loans is one of them. All our staff is vaccinated. We are ready to safely welcome them back.” 

For the upcoming festival season, he says that the Group will soon be introducing new locations: Udaipur, Dapoli and Mussoorie. “These hotels and resorts have interesting launch discount offer on rooms and F&B. Also, festivities call for a gourmet trail. You will be able to tickle your taste buds with special regional flavours at each of our restaurants, pan-India,” puts in Jain who bagged the Indian Hospitality Leadership Award 2020. 

Link to success 

On his success mantra, Jain says, “Pride Group of Hotels incorporates the five senses of traditional Indian welcome – fragrance, music, ambience, regional Indian paintings and frescoes, and mouthwatering Indian cuisines. That is what sets us apart and we resonate the true Indian hospitality. We, at Pride Hotels, believe in providing quality guest service for a delightful experience. This is what makes our guests choose us repeatedly.”

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