Bloom Hotel Group to Expand in Tier 2 Locations
"As part of Bloom’s 100 hotel roll out plan the brand has started signing Tier 2 locations in markets including Aurangabad, Vijayawada, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Rishikesh and Hyderabad among several others," says Tom Welbury, Vice President, Strategy, The Bloom Hotel Group.
IT WAS in the month of June 2018, when hospitality firm Bloom Hotel Group won the bid for Janpath hotel, a three-star property located on Delhi’s Janpath Lane. Recently, the company has officially launched The bloomrooms at Janpath claiming to offer affordable stays in premium quality. BW Hotelier spoke to Tom Welbury, Vice President, Strategy, The Bloom Hotel Group who gave us the brand overview and told us about the company’s expansion plans.
Brief us about the Bloom Hotel Group
The Bloom brand was conceptualized in conjunction with several industry experts ranging from university professors to leading architects. Its mission over the past seven years has been to revolutionize the mid-market hotel space with an outstanding product and industry-first innovations. Today the product has been widely recognized as one of world’s leading mid-market hotel brands and has had a very successful start in India with launches across India’s metros. Each hotel has quickly become a ranking leader on Tripadvisor and other qualitative sites with various recognitions and awards from the wider industry building strong third party ratification of the concept.
Could you tell us about Bloom’s expansion plans?
The brand in its initial years, followed a disciplined approach limiting growth to select urban centres to better understand the market and customer needs better. Bloom typically picks the best locations in each market it enters and offers what the company calls honest travel. This includes fair pricing - what you see is what you get, genuine service, physical and ethical hygiene with outstanding value for money at any Bloom. We’d rather not sign a deal for months unless the developer partner and hotel site meets our high standards. In an industry where everyone has been growth obsessed to grab headlines with poor customer experiences, Bloom has instead taken a different route of being Quality obsessed. Having won in difficult Tier 1 markets such as Delhi, Bengaluru and Goa the Bloom brand is now expanding rapidly across India to combine quality with scale. As part of Bloom’s 100 hotel roll out plan the brand has started signing Tier 2 locations in markets including Aurangabad, Vijayawada, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Rishikesh and Hyderabad among several others.
How do you see demand developing in the affordable hotel space segment?
According to data from global hospitality advisory firm Horwath HTL, the mid-market segment today accounts for 43 percent of all branded rooms in the country. With 53,200 rooms, the segment has grown 9 times in comparison to its 6000 rooms in 2002. This growth rides on a swell in travel and economy, along with an evolving consumer who looks for value for money and standardized experience. Yet, the segment continues to be plagued with dishonest pricing, lack of cleanliness or consistency and promising too much yet delivering too little. Therefore, there is a need to offer something better to the customer who knows what they want.
India has now also become the world’s third largest aviation market after US and China with 100 million people flying this year. Most of these travellers are looking for a value stay and this presents a very strong market for Bloom hotels. It is an exciting time for the travel industry in India and we can see the results in high occupancy numbers at our hotels. This trend isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. India still has fewer branded hotel rooms than Shanghai and New York and at least another 1 million rooms are required over the next few years to match demand.
There are quite a few branded players now in the affordable hotel space category? How is Bloom winning?
When the brand was launched in 2012 the space was dominated by global brands and a few domestic operations. A thorough year-long deep dive into understanding the opportunity was conducted by us before the launch and we reached to a conclusion that despite the massive market opportunity, sustainable success would only come about with an outstanding product driven by proprietary tech. We pioneered hotel level tech in 2012 when the brand had just launched and that has made the difference.
Today the brand has been widely recognized as one of world’s leading mid-market hotel brands and has had a very successful start in India with launches in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Goa. Bloom is known for picking the #1 locations in each market it enters and it offers a clutter free, honest, crisp and comfortable stay to its guests. We take pride in being quality obsessed and believe that quality always trumps quantity. The hotels are recognized for their differentiated design, extremely comfortable patented CloudBed™ and have received awards from the wider industry.
Where do you see Bloom in the next five years?
Having won Tier 1 markets, the Bloom Brand is now expanding across India and has started considering Tier 2 locations. We plan to set up 100 hotels across India & South Asia in the next few years.
What is your relationship with online booking sites such as Online Travel Agents (OTAs), aggregators, booking apps etc?
This is an important relationship. Even though like any hotel brand Bloom strives to build its own direct channels and app for bookings we value our industry booking partners. Bloom’s direct bookings and repeat guests are one of the highest in the industry but this doesn’t diminish the important value add of partnering with leading OTA’s like MakeMyTrip, Booking.com, Expedia and even TripAdvisor.
How is Bloom design different from other hotels?
Bloom is quality obsessed. This focus on quality over quantity is self-evident and immediately hits you when you enter a Bloom Hotel. The product feels premium and despite the more affordable price point, Bloom offers all their guests Grohe rain showers, Egyptian cotton linen, free high-speed wifi and Fresh Air systems that only most leading hotels can boast about. Interestingly Bloom is also the first mid-market brand globally to trademark their sleep experience, the CloudBed™, demonstrating their overriding commitment to excellence. It’s clear this strategy has worked with industry-leading guest satisfaction levels and an exceptional 30 percent repeat rate.
What are the products currently available under the label of Bloom Hotel?
The Bloom Hotel Group is currently available in three formats – bloomrooms, bloom Suites and bloom Boutique. The major difference being design. While for bloomrooms and bloomSuites consistency in design across properties is one of our key focus areas, for Boutique we try and retain the character & history of the property. We have 9 hotels so far - 1 bloom Suites (Goa), 3 bloom Boutiques (Gurgaon, Indranagar, Malleshwaram), 5 bloomrooms (1 – Goa, 3 – New Delhi, 1 -Bangalore).
What are the key services being offered at Bloomrooms Janpath facility?
The bloomrooms at Janpath reflects most of the brand’s trademark product offerings including the proprietary CloudBeds, superfast WiFi, Grohe rain-showers, Egyptian cotton linens, Fresh Air Systems, an all-day Cafe, a work lounge for business travellers, conference rooms and a gym for fitness-focused guests. All this backed by an outstanding service that the brand is known for. Located at Janpath, one of New Delhi’s busiest and most cosmopolitan destinations, the hotel offers a vibrant and stylish atmosphere and is conveniently connected to major hubs in the city.
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