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'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

Last updated on: April 8, 2011 15:39 IST

'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

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Swaraj Baggonkar in Mumbai

Global hotel brands are making a beeline for India and want to be a part of its growth story in the hospitality sector.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world's biggest hotel chain operator, has put an ambitious target of opening 150 hotels over the next nine years.

Chris Moloney, chief operating officer, Southwest Asia talks about his company's plans.

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Image: Chris Moloney, chief operating officer, Southwest Asia, IHG

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'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

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What is IHG's plan in terms of adding new hotels?

Currently, we have around 4,000 rooms across 12 properties in the country. We have a pipeline of 45 hotels and just signed a joint venture with Duet Hotels for the launch of the Holiday Inn brand.

The venture initially involves 19 properties, but our ambition is to open 150 hotels by 2020.

That would cover the Intercontinental, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands.

About 75 per cent of the pipeline of new properties are, Holiday Inn brand.

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Image: Holiday Inn Gem Park, Ooty
Photographs: Courtes: IHG
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'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

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How different is the Indian market compared to other world markets?

I was based in Japan; it is the second largest outbound travel market in the world and very mature.

But because of that, the potential for further growth is limited. Whereas, in India it is all about growth. There are less hotel rooms in all of India than there are in Shanghai.

We know there are 5.5 million international travellers here every year, but there is a potential of 150 million going up to 600 million travellers moving forward.

There is just not enough supply of quality room stay available for so many travellers.

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'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

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In the light of the recent scams emerging from various sectors, including real estate, how difficult is it now for companies like yours to find the right partner?

We do a great deal of evaluation. A lot of effort goes into the due diligence process.

Some basic activities such as buying land, which is a tall order considering the amount of legalities involved, takes a lot of energy.

A lot of investment is going into understanding the future customer.

Do you plan to bring in more brands to India?

We have seven brands globally and four of them are operational in India.

We are open to looking at opportunities as and when they arrive, but it has to have a strong strategic impact. We are not going to go out there just like that.

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'Shanghai has more hotel rooms than entire India'

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You had a tie-up with the Lalit Suri Group, which was ended recently. Do you believe the break up came at the wrong time for IHG?

The tie-up with Lalit Suri and group was part of the strategic decision that was made at a time when it made sense.

As the situation in India evolved and as we re-evaluated what we need to do, it was felt that both parties should not be in the relationship.

And now the Lalit Group has an independent brand. It allowed us to reposition our own brand.

 



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