Diverse Portfolio will Drive Indian Tourism

Nikhil Sharma, Area Director-Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, gives an in-depth look at what makes the Indian hospitality sector tick and which way it will go in the new decade

AS THE third largest travel economy in Asia, India is making impressive progress in the hospitality sector owing to various factors. The rising middle-income group with increasing disposable incomes is supporting both domestic and outbound tourism, boosting the hotel market. People are travelling not just for romantic getaways or annual family vacations these days, but for adventure as well, to explore nature or to go on solo trips. Such travelling choices create new possibilities for the hospitality industry.

With increased connectivity, travel aggregators and heightening air travel, this group of consumers are well informed and know exactly what they want. They look for affordable, quality, branded accommodations. They have given birth to concepts like ‘staycations’ and ‘B-leisure trips’ which have become new trends.

India’s rich cultural and historical heritage, geographic diversity, beautiful landscapes, backed by positive Government initiatives already have the potential of making it as a global tourism hub that would greatly benefit the hospitality sector. All these factors will continue to fuel the affordable, quality and branded hospitality segment.

According to a recent report, India’s hotel construction went up by 8% during October last year. Though it seems sluggish when compared against the growing pace of domestic travel in India, the hotel industry has been delivering an overall growth of 4.2% on RevPAR, despite the demand surpassing the supply. 

Leveraging smart technology

The hospitality industry will continue to see consolidation, not only for the growth of large players but also through diversification with new products and offerings that range from smart technologies and mobile applications to uniquely positioned rewards programs. Hotels and resorts are constantly innovating and researching to ensure a seamless guest experience, and technology is essential to this objective. Global hospitality players have rolled out cloud-based central reservations and property management systems, which helps hotels manage the daily pricing and inventory more efficiently. Since guest-facing technology is just as important, incorporating any form of in-room technology can drive positive guest satisfaction - like voice commands for certain room types or in-room entertainment offerings to include more content and mobile streaming.

Rewards and Loyalty

With more options available to travellers, it is important for hotels and resorts to provide guests with an overarching connection between their brands and their offerings. For example, Wyndham has a portfolio of 20 hotel brands, each of which is uniquely positioned - from the budget to the upper-upscale segment, with a distinct brand identity and clearly defined offering. Therefore, Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program and the recent addition of "By Wyndham" hallmark across all brands ensure that we cater to each guest’s needs to deliver a great and uniform rewards experience. 

Hospitality In Coming Years

When it comes to India, the tourism and hospitality industries play a key role in driving the Indian economy and have seen a spurt in growth. In coming years, India will build on a diverse portfolio to drive tourism, ranging from cruises, adventure, MICE, medical, rural, religious, sports and eco-tourism. While the growth opportunities in India are huge, the industry continues to experience some challenges in terms of workforce training, high taxation, substantial upfront investment, longer break-even periods and infrastructural challenges.

However, being a cost-sensitive market, India provides an excellent fit for mid-market hotel brands to grow. Global hospitality chains are expanding in the mid-market segment and this space has become increasingly competitive in the last few years. This only reiterates the potential of the market. The mid-scale space will continue to experience strong growth with the upscale segment following closely behind. All of these factors combined, set a very positive picture for the hotel industry in the years to come.

The Government has introduced supportive policies which have helped steer the industry towards growth. The ‘Swadesh-Darshan’ scheme, or development of tourism infrastructure and expansion of e-Visa scheme is expected to continue to boost tourist inflow to India.

Wyndham Weaves Its Magic

Wyndham is the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with over 9,200 hotels located across more than 80 countries on six continents. As a pure-play hotel company, we are laser-focused on smart growth, development of our franchisees and elevating the travellers’ experiences. We have a strong representation in India as well, with 44 hotels and over 4,000 rooms across the country. We have made impressive strides in India’s rapidly growing, mid-market hospitality segment with our well-established 'Ramada by Wyndham', 'Howard Johnson by Wyndham' and 'Days Hotel by Wyndham' brands. Our aim is to add 40 more hotels on the Indian sub-continent by 2025 to continue strengthening our presence in the region.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has been one of the first players to leverage technologies for streamlining business and improving guest experiences. Starting with the company’s U.S. portfolio, hoteliers will have access to the best-in-class wireless and network equipment, a professional home page, superior Wi-Fi services and a one-stop shopping for support. A new mobile app is to be launched in the spring of 2020.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '5 Years Young & Just Begun'

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