Mementos, the new brand, would be aimed at addressing the need for boutique luxury hotels across various destinations.
ITC Hotel is set to launch a destination-led luxury brand called Mementos adding to its bouquet of five brands, including the recently announced Storii. Mementos would be aimed at addressing the need for boutique luxury hotels across various destinations.
The launch of the two new brands -- Storii as a premium and Mementos, as a luxury one -- is in line with the larger strategy of the hotel chain to offer a differentiated experience to the travellers, Anil Chadha, divisional chief executive, ITC Hotels.
"We want to grow all the six brands (includes ITC, Welcomhotel, Fortune, WelcomHeritage, Storii and Mementos) Five years from now we endeavour to double our tally of hotels which currently stands at 100 plus hotels with 10,000 plus keys," he told Business Standard on the sidelines of a recent hospitality industry conference. While Mementos will be a boutique property with about 100 rooms, the Storii will have 15 to 50 rooms.
There is a rise in demand for curated travel and experiential stay from the new age traveler, says Nandivardhan Jain, CEO Noesis Capital Advisors. "Post Covid-19, the opportunity in this space is growing and quite a few hotel brands are evaluating this space." The entry of organised players into the space will add tremendous value to the rural economy with job opportunities and open new avenues of income for locals, said Jain.
Like most of the other homegrown hotel brands which traditionally owned hotels, ITC Hotels also embarked on the "asset right" strategy in 2018 and has adopted a management contract model for growth.
The change in tack has paid off, says Chadha. The Welcomhotel brand for instance started getting the traction it deserved. In the last one year, ITC has opened four new hotels under the Welcomhotel brand -- one each in Shimla, Katra and Chail and Bhubaneswar and the response has been very good.
The high occupancy at each of these further reinforced the hospitality firm's travellers' thirst for experience and culminated in the birth of Storii and Mementos.
"When an owner is building a property for ITC, he has to start from scratch. We realised there's a white space here," said Chadha, pointing out that sometimes even when the existing property doesn't tick all the boxes in terms of meeting the standardised specifications like number or size of rooms, there is still a scope for it to be part of ITC Hotels' chain if the property is uniquely located.
The Mementos offers that flexibility. It would have all the elements of luxury that ITC has in terms of culture, branding, training, staffing, food and beverage, etc. It would be a collection of unique hotels, across varied destinations ranging from modern marvels, hidden retreats to historic treasures. Every hand-picked property will promise to create unforgettable memories that become special mementos.
The Storii too is based on the idea of offering something unique to the travellers. It could be hills, plains or a beach, said Chadha. "We are very clear that the normal brick and steel hotel can't be a Storii. It has to be unique in some way. A unique property -- it may have a history of 100 years or 50 years, building a story around that is my job," he said.
It would be a collection of handpicked properties consisting of intimate sized properties in the premium segment. It could be exotic locales or sites steeped in history, golden untouched beaches or jungles thriving with adventure. Each will be unique by character, design, service or heritage and will offer a distinct experience. Storii's experiences will be very unique and a lot of stories will be written around it.''
It's easier for large hotel chains like ITC to get into a smaller format of differentiated properties as these can always be backed by the other larger brands of the group that already have a presence there, pointed out Chadha.
The hub and spoke model works wonderfully. The asset owner gets the benefit of the entire distribution, manpower, management bandwidth and loyalty of the hotel. In today's day and age with the very purpose of travel changing, offering curative experience is becoming inevitable.
"It can't be just about putting heads to beds," he said.