Indian Hospitality Sector in 2020 and Beyond

From IHG’s perspective, we believe that it is important to drive sustainable growth in the industry and pre-empt consumer and business trends.

IT WOULDN'T be an exaggeration to say that the Indian Hospitality industry has seen the most dramatic evolution in the last decade. The fast-evolving Indian consumer has driven this pace of change; greater domestic travel as a result of many factors including increasing disposable incomes, better national infrastructure and connectivity. The escalating travel patterns have led to the need for more diverse and unique guest stay experiences and therefore more diversified accommodation options. Additionally, business travellers are also demanding more in terms of both their stay and MICE experiences. This has given the hospitality sector the opportunity to be more innovative and creative in its offerings. 

Today, India has a host of modern, relevant international and domestic hotel brands in play than ever before. IHG has launched 10 Holiday Inn Express hotels in India in partnership with SAMHI to cater to the increase in domestic travellers, specifically the 25-35-year age group that look for savvy and efficient hotel brands when travelling from city to city within India. We are also driving our luxury offering across South West Asia with the debut of InterContinental brand in Bengaluru in India, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Moreover, the government has recognized these consumer and business trends and has been working to accelerate the sector. This is evident in the sundry of initiatives and schemes launched in recent years. The UDAN scheme, which plans to make 56 unserved air terminals and 31 helipads operational, throughout the country, will make many more destinations accessible by air travel. 

The tourism and hospitality industry in the country is expected to reach a staggering INR 1,210.8 Billion by the end of 2023. From IHG’s perspective, we believe that it is important to drive sustainable growth in the industry and pre-empt consumer and business trends.

Major factors that we think will drive the growth of the industry are talent and technology. 

Our current pipeline of 45 hotels (over 9000 rooms) requires an extensive pipeline of talented hospitality professionals. This has been a challenge because a significant portion of the general population and youth in particular are not aware of hospitality as a progressive career path. Moreover, there is a perception that the industry employs for specific service roles only, where as an industry we also employ engineers, accountants, marketeers amongst other professionals. In order to create a greater understanding of the industry and attract more youth into our industry, we have developed programs to attract and grow talent at every level of the organization. At entry level, we have a 12-month ‘I-Host’ program, which trains people for supervisory positions, we have an 18-month ‘I-Grad’ program for graduates, which trains them for managerial positions. We have also expanded our ‘IHG Academy’ programs wherein we collaborate with educational institutions to give training and exposure to people, especially from local underprivileged communities, for them to build a career in the hospitality industry. 

Technology is becoming very important in terms of our user-interfaces as well as back-end platforms that help our hotels deliver better guest experiences. IHG has long been prioritizing digital and technological innovation based on the consumer landscape, which continues to evolve. Guests today expect technology to inform and enrich their stays. The key is to find the right balance of simplicity, convenience and delight, and seamlessly carry this formula across the complete guest journey from booking, travel and arrival through to the hotel’s guestroom and experience of the public space.  

In line with this thinking, in the past year we have rolled out Phase 1 of IHG Concerto, our new Guest Reservation System (GRS). This is an industry first – a sophisticated, cloud-based platform that provides a foundation to build out our technology architecture over the coming years. We are currently developing this platform further. Eventually, the reservation system will play a big part in IHG’s direct sales strategy with the technology enabling the hotels to offer different rates and products and services via different channels. It will enable guests to build the kind of stay they want, and for us to offer stay options and amenities according to past booking preferences of the guests. In addition, guests will be able to book directly, specific rooms and select preferences, for example booking top floor, corner room, extra-large room, late check-out, lounge access, among other amenities. 

Adoption of such purpose-driven technology initiatives will help hospitality players to amplify not just the guest experience, but the overall revenue, not to mention the enhanced credibility. 

We believe that if we get these two major drivers – talent and technology working in our favour IHG has the potential to become one of the top three hospitality companies in India, enjoy industry leading performance and be the preferred employer in our industry.

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

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Sudeep Jain


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