Mumbai: Hotelivate, the new-age, comprehensive hospitality consulting firm in the Asia Pacific region, successfully organised the 15th Edition of its annual Hotel Investment Conference – South Asia (HICSA) at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai on April 3 and 4. The two-day conference was dedicated to the region’s hospitality sector, with emphasis on showcasing the potential growth and investment opportunities, while also addressing the major challenges faced by the industry at large. Over the course of the two days, HICSA, in its new avatar, disrupted the events and conferences space by hosting numerous interviews and keynote addresses by industry leaders and key influencers.
The 15th edition emphasised on showcasing the potential growth and investment opportunities, while also addressing the major challenges faced by the industry at large
Day 1 saw Manav Thadani, Founder-Chairman, Hotelivate speak positively about the investment climate in India and also covered some key aspects of The Ultimate Indian Travel & Hospitality Report, which presented the results of Hotelivate’s market-sizing exercise along with the methodology used to arrive at the figures. Following him, Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog, shared his optimistic views on the country’s prospects and lent a voice to the government’s perspective on the tourism industry. Kant’s speech touched some key points that included government initiatives on Startup India, Tech India and GST; geographically emerging small markets in the Indian ecosystem; and how the current demographics of the nation are going to affect the future of businesses in the country. He represented a strong voice on behalf of the Union Government and infused a sense of positivity among all present at the conference.
Another keynote address on Day 1, which was very well received, was by Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, Accor Hotels. However, the interview of Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts by Raymond Bickson, Principal and CEO, Bickson Hospitality clearly stole the show on the first day of the event. Day 1 ended on an emotional note as Raymond Bickson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his unparalleled contribution to shaping the future of the Indian hospitality industry during his time of 12 years as the CEO of IHCL.
From the trailblazers to the rule breakers sharing their two cents, Day 2 of HICSA had a fast-paced, content-rich agenda with an aim to offer something for everyone. From special owner-oriented segments like ‘What do Independent Owners Need and Want?’ and ‘Boutique Luxury Hotels: 2.0’ to having dedicated hour-long sessions on Technology in Hospitality and Design, Architecture and Sustainability, HICSA increased the knowledge quotient more than ever before. Additionally, the most outstanding new hotels in South Asia were honoured with the HICSA Hotels of the Year Awards presented in association with Make My Trip. The finalists were shortlisted by an independent panel of judges and included all hotels that commenced operations in the past one year. The winners in each of the categories were determined by HICSA 2019 delegates via an online voting process.
Winners of HICSA Hotels of the Year Awards
Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur (Luxury & Upper Upscale Segment); Double Tree by Hilton, Panaji (Upscale Segment); Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road (Upper Mid-Market Segment); Fairfield by Marriott, Sriperumbudur (Mid-Market Segment); ibis Hinjewadi, Pune; (Budget & Economy Segment); Red Fox Hotel, Tiruchirappalli (Conversion Hotels Segment).
The next edition of HICSA will be held on April 1 and 2, 2020.
“As a hotel guest, I am most particular about comfort and cleanliness. Quality of service and attention to detail without it being obtrusive, are my other considerations. I think if these can be addressed, guests will be loyal to the brand and experience”
Chairman, Tata Trusts
“India can grow at 9 per cent if it can create massive growth along with skilled jobs. We have 40 million jobs in tourism sector which account for 9 per cent of all jobs in India. This industry is labour-intensive offering skilled well-qualified jobs. The industry needs to talk more about the jobs it creates because it is the biggest provider of jobs in India. We are creating world-class infrastructure which will also benefit tourism. We are the only country in the world developing 100 smart cities. We are building national highways at a feverish pace – 36 km of urban roads and 170 km of rural roads are being created every day. 100 rail tourism projects have been commissioned. Our airports and highways are getting privatised. Asia’s largest convention center with a cluster of 30 hotels is under construction in Dwaraka. Pragati Maidan revamp is also ongoing. Once these two are completed, from a MICE perspective, we have a strong footing.”
CEO, NITI Aayog
“Oyo hosts 1,40,000 guests every night across 17,50,000 rooms in 269 cities in India. 93 per cent are repeat customers; Paid customer acquisition is less than 7 per cent. I am frustrated everyone is still sceptical and wants to be blind towards the huge revolution unfolding around in the space. Focus beyond Ritesh (Founder, Oyo), his age, the billion-dollar valuation. Try to appreciate that successful PEs and professionals have joined and backed the vision. You may not agree with the business idea or the future but at least be part of the discussion.”
CEO – South Asia, OYO Hotels and Homes
“We take a lot of effort to build the themes, topics, panelists and moderators. Our partners hand-hold each session and our consulting experience really helps. The common feedback we received this year is that the content has been far superior and it shows that our efforts have been appreciated. Ratan Tata gracing the event was the biggest highlight of HICSA 2019. Sébastien Bazin, who is undoubtedly one of the best speakers at any hospitality conference, was there too! Beating our best performance year on year is the challenge going forward.”
“As a company we committed few mistakes in the past. We own real estate. Instead we should have invested in technology, customer loyalty and brand. We part sold EUR 7.5 billion worth of assets and earned EUR 4.5 billion. We have to be asset-light. I don’t want to invest in budget segment as it’s commoditised. This is the piece mostly sold by OTAs. We have to have upscale brands. Clients are mostly more loyal here and don’t use OTAs. So we went around and acquired luxury brands and grew the portfolio from just 10 per cent five years ago to 50 per cent. We are also one of the top three players globally in terms of rooms. We have 38 brands under Accor. 12 of them are globally scalable brands and the rest are regional brands. Accor Live Limitless gives access to all 38 across 100 countries. We will someday have 50 brands.”
Chairman & CEO Accor Hotels