India has finally emerged as one of the major tourist destinations in the world and seeing the huge potential, hotel giants are eyeing India like never before. KB Kachru, Executive Vice-President South Asia, Carlson Hotels, Asia Pacific, tells Tushi Deb
India has finally emerged as one of the major tourist destinations in the world and seeing the huge potential, hotel giants are eyeing India like never before. KB Kachru, Executive Vice-President South Asia, Carlson Hotels, Asia Pacific, tells Tushi Deb about his expansion vision pan-India.
Where does India figure in Carlson's expansion plans? Are you planning to spread across emerging regions in India?
India is a key market for our future and 20 of Carlson's global development projects are in the pipeline for India. We have aggressive expansion plans for India and expect to operate over 100 hotels by 2015. A significant portion of our existing portfolio is located in tier-II and III cities. Majority of these cities lack in providing quality accommodation and thus we see a huge potential for Carlson in India.
Tell us briefly about the recent announcement made regarding new properties in India.
Out of 52 properties under development, we expect to open around 19 hotels across India before 2011 end. We have already opened hotels in the NCR, Rudrapur, Agra, Bengaluru, Ranchi and Goa in the past six months. Besides, we expanded our portfolio with five new hotel signings in Dehradun, NCR, Kandla and Ajmer this year.
How many hotel brands does Carlson have in India?
Presently, we have 39 hotels in operation and 52 are under development spread across four hotel brands. Our hotel brands include Radisson, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, Park Inn by Radisson and Park Plaza.
What are the factors that have prompted the brand to invest in the Indian hospitality market?
India has emerged as a global economic powerhouse and has the potential to become a major tourist destination in the world. The World Travel Organisation (WTO) predicts that India will receive 25 million tourists by 2015, which translates to an exponential growth of inbound travellers. The growing wealth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and emerging middle-class will drive domestic and outbound travel upwards and provide an excellent opportunity for the growth of Carlson.
What are the aspects that favour franchising in the Indian hospitality industry?
We are seeing significant investments by leading Indian businesses into real estate development to capture tourism growth and capitalise on the exponential increase in accommodation, which helps to boost hotel franchising. Franchising enables hotel owners with limited expertise in hotel operations to run a world-class hotel. It has proven operational models and well-defined procedures, supplemented with support services to ensure success for a hotel. A franchise hotel will have immediate access to global distribution system and benefit from worldwide recognition, contributing to higher occupancy, which is a challenge in an aggressive marketplace.
How do you maintain standardisation of properties (maintained by franchisees)?
We provide brand manuals with mandatory technical and operating standards that needs to be implemented in hotels. Support services are also available to hotels to ensure that the brand's standards are adhered to. Regular audits are also carried out to help hotels meet the brand's requirement.