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IHG to double its presence in India over next 3-5 years

NEW DELHI: Hospitality major InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) plans to double its presence in India over the next three to five years and bring more of its luxury brands like Regent and Kimpton to the country. IHG MD (India, Middle East and Africa) Haitham Mattar told TOI Tuesday group in saw higher occupancies in January-March 2022 over same period of pre-pandemic 2019. While average tariffs in the period here were lower by 15-20% over same time 2019 for the group that runs Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands among others, it expects rates to recover by the year-end.
“We currently have 41 properties across five brands in India and are going to open about 40 more in the next 3-5 years. IHG will bring more luxury brands here like Regent and Kimpton; premium brand voco and the recently launched Vignette Collection. So far (since mid 2020), domestic travel sustained hotel demand and now international inbound will also begin to India. Business meeting demand from small and medium Indian companies is also back,” Mattar said.
Like most big hotel chains, IHG had also laid off some of its staffers in India during Covid and at present has 5,000 employees here. “Unfortunately like every other company we had to cut salaries, ask some to go on leave without pay and reduce our workforce. Now with the recovery, we have started hiring again and vacancies are posted on our site,” Mattar said.
The UK-headquartered hospitality company founded in 1777 came up with unique cost-cutting ways during the pandemic to support property owners during Covid that included giving them a software to optimise utilisation of manpower — a key expense.
Interestingly, it developed a technology to analyse exactly what ends up in the garbage bin. “That helped us do menu engineering by analysing which items are left the most by guests in buffet meals. We found oats and porridge topped this list. Accordingly, they were taken off buffet menu and kept in la carte menu. With several other measures like optimising capex, we helped property owners rationalise their overall running cost. One property saved $65,000 in annual expenditure,” he said.
Mattar added that owners of some standalone properties in India, as in other countries, approached big hospitality companies for a flight to safety of brands.
IHG’s 28 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express (that come in essentials category) in India represent 70% of IHG’s operating portfolio here. There are 10 Crowne Plazas (premium category) and three luxury properties — two InterContinentals and a Six Senses. IHG is bringing its sixth brand to India with Staybridge Suites to the country and now more will follow suit.
Apart from India seeing a strong recovery, Mattar says hotel business in some Middle Mast markets like Dubai and Saudi Arabia have now exceeded 2019 levels. “The US is recovering fast. Greater China is seeing good business from people who want to go out of big cities there. In India, the average occupancy till 2021-end was 65-70%, with Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai being over over 80%. Tariffs in India are 15-20% lower than pre-Covid times and expected to climb back by the year-end,” he says.

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