Marriott International now has 116 hotels in India and has another 12, amounting to 2700+ keys, in the pipeline for this year in destinations including Pune, Indore, Surat, among others, said Ramesh Daryanani, vice president, global sales, Marriott International in the Asia Pacific. “We will be opening our 16th brand ‘Tribute’ in Kochi in the second half of this year. India’s second ‘Ritz Carlton’ branded hotel in Pune will also open soon,” he added.
The Tribute branded hotel will be a 54-key property.
Talking about India as a market for Marriott, Daryanani told, “Initially we saw a lot of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) preferring Marriott branded hotels in India, but with years passing, we now see 70 per cent of business within India coming from the domestic traveller market. Also, India had a phenomenal year in 2018 in terms of financial results, during which, we drove higher market share in this market which is evident with us at 116 hotels in India, and overall South Asia sitting at 123 Marriott branded hotels.”
A Ritz Carlton branded hotel in Mumbai will also open very soon, told Daryanani.
With GST rolled out last year and its effect to Marriott’s business in India, he said, “We have found that GST affected initially our F&B business, but we are now much more settled with how we need to work with it, and I think that is all behind us now.”
MICE as a segment in India is extremely strong, remarked Daryanani. “MICE is almost 20 per cent for us here in the region. Weddings equally hold a lot of importance within and outside of India. Destination weddings is trending now and my global sales team queries about weddings on a weekly basis. For this segment as well Marriott caters to the guests with beach resorts and destinations that can host such wonderful weddings. Where we do need to make a better job, as a collective, is to make sure that the infrastructure in India keeps up with the other competing destinations, where we as an industry need to come together and push that agenda,” he added.
For Marriott’s India outbound business, Europe is a highly potential destination, informed Daryanani. “We see significant business from India to newer destinations like Anatolia, Warsaw, some islands of Greece, etc. Also, overall, the UK, Paris, and Germany are strong markets. So the European market overall is a significant business that we do see from the India outbound traveller market. Georgia and Moscow are other upcoming destinations under consideration now,” he told.
Marriott currently has 710 hotels across APAC. “We are well on our way to start off in Australia with at least 50 hotels to open in the next few years. There are more 80 hotels scheduled across APAC this year,” he said.
The hotel company on February 13, launched their new loyalty programme – Marriott Bonvoy which combines Starwood, SPG, Ritz Carlton Rewards, and Marriott Rewards under one umbrella, which literally as per the French word Bon Voyage translates to ‘good travel’, hence making it a travel programme from the pre-existent traditional hotel loyalty programme, said Daryanani.
“The points earned with the spend on F&B, room nights, etc., at Marriott branded properties can be used for experiences within and outside the hotels from the range of experiences in Marriott Moments, through which, a guest can choose from to redeem the points. In addition to that, we have some great partnerships, and we get our guests to access to those memberships. One such experience was with music band Maroon 5 when they were touring APAC and we had our guests redeeming their points to interact with Maroon 5 and also watch the show, which was a great experience. We recently tied up with Manchester United as well, so that the guests get an opportunity to get up close to watch the players play,” he said to a query about Marriott’s efforts to cater to the experience-hungry modern-day travellers.
“Also what JW Mussoorie does is, as a part of the experience, the breakfast is served to the guests in the middle of the stream, amidst nature, which is something one needs to witness and live. Likewise, in JW Marriott Phuket we are maintaining turtle shelters where guests can see how we conserve and help them rehabilitate as well which is another experience,” added Daryanani.
The company will also launch first of the three luxury Ritz Carlton branded yachts soon, he added. “We also started a pilot project in the home-sharing segment in the UK in which we have 200 apartments being managed by Marriott. This project also went well. We are also entering in the co-branded credit card business, hence summing it up that we are not only a hotel company but we bring a complete travel experience to our guests,” he added.
Moxy, Marriott’s budget brand that started with two properties in Japan followed by one in Indonesia, will expand across APAC, which means India will soon see a Moxy branded hotel, hinted Daryanani.
Speaking about the safety from the security breach of sensitive data of guests at Marriott, Daryanani said, “We have robust systems in place to maintain the privacy and security of our guests and we continue to invest in this area. We work with well-known authorities to ensure that our systems and back-end systems are robust as well.”
“We signed up 125,000 rooms for this year, and are going to be touching 7000 hotels this year globally. We would be majorly focusing on the asset-light model for our expansion throughout,” concluded Daryanani.