Taking 'Pride' in Being an Indian Brand that Offers Indian-Style Hospitality
Satyen Jain, CEO of Pride Group of Hotels not only inherited his father's hotel business but also shares his father's passion for hospitality, as evident in the brand adding one hotel every year in its portfolio.
BW HOTELIER: What's your view about the current scenario in the Indian and global hospitality markets?
Satyen Jain: The hospitality industry was on the growth curve last year but since the economic slowdown happened, occupancy growth has been flat and MICE business also affected. Yet, there's scope for optimism due to the Government's recent economic reforms.
Initiatives by the Government like infrastructure development, 'Incredible India', 'Make in India' and 'Clean India', besides Smart Cities and inland waterways make me feel optimistic about the development of the hospitality sector. The GST rate reduction will further improve India's competitiveness on the global scene.
While the hotel industry is continuing to witness steady growth, with over one-third of the hotels seeing 70-80 per cent occupancy in 2018-19, the growth has been slower than expected. The Domestic Tourism sector, however, continues to be a beacon of hope, witnessing a good demand. The international segment has also seen modest growth. All these factors stimulate India's prospects as a tourist destination.
The hospitality sector, coupled with the travel and tourism sectors, remains the key sector for economic development and job creation. With transport becoming more affordable and country borders blurring due to easing of visa norms, travel and tourism will remain a dominant sector in the future.
BWH: What have been your biggest challenges in recent times?
SJ: The hospitality sector's potential for bringing in foreign currency and creating employment is a known. Therefore, though the Government has trimmed GST rates, they should keep it uniform for all hotels, to match other small countries who are attracting more international tourists than India.
Then, high interest rates and absence of long tenures are hindrances in way of new hotels being built. Land cost is 30-45 per cent of the hotel project, whereas it should be only 15-20 per cent.
The unavailability of quality workforce is another big hurdle. It's absolutely necessary for the hotel industry to train and retain talent.
BWH:Who are the new disruptors in the hospitality industry and what is their impact?
SJ: A big disruptor in the hospitality sector is the homestay concept. When Airbnb arrived as the new kid on the block, many hoteliers believed it had nothing to do with them but it succeeded in being a major disruptor for leisure hotels. Another new disruptor for budget long-stay hotels are co-living apartments.
BWH:What is the role of smart technology?
SJ: Many hotels are working towards creating an unforgettable smart room experience. All are using technology to provide better services and customer relations. However, hotels will need to strike the right balance between automated solutions and human interaction.
Most hotel bookings come from online channels while most hotels have an online reservation system. I will not be surprised if soon, Amazon, Google or Facebook distribute rooms at affordable rates.
At Pride Hotels, customer feedback is connected to an employee's mobile number for prompt service. We are also working on voice automation for guest requests.
BWH:How is the industry going to perform over the next five years?
SJ: The hospitality industry in India is set to witness a much better time after the slump of 2019. Supply has moderated and demand is growing steadily. Airline capacity is increasing at rapid pace which will lead to demand for hotel rooms.
Thus, with a growing middle-class, rising disposable incomes, improving air connectivity, better road infrastructure, rapid growth in domestic tourism and favourable government policy, the occupancy and Average Room Rate (ARR) for the industry are ready to be pushed. We will also witness a gradual and sustainable rise in room rates, backed with strong occupancies, which will put the industry back on the growth track.
BWH:What is your vision for 2025? How do you intend to re-energize your enterprise in the next five years?
SJ: We want to build the Pride brand as “a truly Indian brand that offers true Indian hospitality”. Our vision is to position Pride as one of the leading Indian hospitality companies in the upscale mid-market and upscale hotel chain in India, to create excellence in managing and running upscale and mid-segment hotels and resorts, to service excellence in each area of operations, surpass guest expectations and create guest delight.
We also want our employees to learn and grow with us. We want to be a responsible hotel chain that follows sustainable practices and also gives back to our communities.
We plan to have more than 40 hotels by 2025, doubling our current portfolio. There are also plans to run our hotels on management basis in some cities while we have also signed a deal with new hotels in other cities. We are planning to add 4-5 managed properties every year. We are also planning to open around 250-300 rooms in Goa and an additional 75 and 50 rooms in Nagpur and Pune, respectively. By 2021, we will tie-up with a hotel in Mumbai on a management basis as well.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '5 Years Young & Just Begun'
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