Mumbai: For the third year in a row, Asia Pacific’s largest hotel exhibition and sales mission series was back in Mumbai and New Delhi in March. The 2019 Accor Showcase saw participation from over 23 countries and representation from more than 70 Accor hotels and resorts, of which, 45 are international properties.
Accor Showcase worldwide, now in its 16th year, saw exhibitors from countries such as Seychelles, Singapore, New Zealand, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Spain. India’s popularity continues as a destination and feeder market, with markets such as Turkey, France, UAE, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, amongst others having witnessed exponential growth in arrivals from India over the last year.
According to an industry research report prepared by STR and Horwath HTL, the subcontinent witnessed the highest hotel occupancy in the last decade in 2018. New Delhi has grown substantially; Goa has de-grown a bit; Mumbai continues to remain a safe haven; Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur and Lucknow have registered significant growth. “If I take out inflation, the industry can do much better,” opined Arif Patel, Vice President – Sales, Marketing, Distribution & Loyalty, Accor India & South Asia.
“There is a limit for occupancy to grow. Can you do more than 85 per cent? Yes, maybe 1 or 2 per cent more. STR and Horwath HTL track just 10-11 cities in India but we are a very large market and hence the data is not sufficient. More data penetration is needed in tier III and IV cities for interpretations to be reliable.”
Patel says mid-scale and economy segments grew at a much faster rate than luxury and upscale. “Ibis grew well (below 20 per cent) in RevPar. That is where the customer starts and climbs up the brand chain. In India, our RevPar growth was higher than market average in 2018. The first quarter of 2019 has been great. But we can do better.”
The massive infrastructure development will reap tremendous benefits in the next five years, especially for the hospitality sector, feels Patel. “India’s demographic makes it a typical ‘experience economy’. Unique experiences create value. Brands that understand this economy will deliver better results.” Patel refuses to be drawn into the tug of war between hoteliers and OTAs, adding that no business can grow without aggregators. “It is in everyone’s interest to not indulge in a blame-game. Negotiate the right value.”
Accor Live Limitless (ALL), the new lifestyle loyalty programme will be launched in India by the end of Q3 or beginning of Q4. “ALL will change the way you experience loyalty because it will not be just about points.” For Accor which operates a network of ten distinctive brands with over 9500 rooms spread across 52 properties in 23 key destinations in India and Sri Lanka, tapping into the 1.6 billion domestic leisure trips in India every year will be a no-brainer. “All our hotels will be full if we can do that well,” admits Patel.
MICE and Weddings are important segments too. “MICE and may I add sporting events, can give us business on weekends. From Monday to Thursday nobody needs any help to fill their rooms.” Accor is launching Short Stays at 60 per cent off the tariff which allows guests to use rooms during the day from 8 am to 9 pm.
Rooms can be booked through accor.com. It is another way to optimise occupancies. That apart, an initiative to welcome non in-house guests to use services like laundry and business centre is also taking shape. This will not only help maximise revenue and utilise spare capacity but also engage local communities.