Existing partners like The Leela and Fortune Hotels to lead the growth
Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
Preferred Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest independent hotel brand representing more than 650 properties globally. In India, the company has been in business since 2002 and currently represents 30 independent luxury hotels. “We are anticipating 50 per cent growth by 2018, and hope to have about 45 hotels. This is based on our current active development pipeline and some very advanced discussions,” said Saurabh Rai, area managing director, Preferred Hotels & Resorts. The growth, mentioned Rai, will largely be organic as the company looks at signing more hotels with its existing partners as the latter launches new properties.
The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, with eight properties, is currently the biggest partner of Preferred Hotels & Resorts in India. “They have a sturdy growth plan. There is a pipeline of five-six hotels, we will grow with them,” stated Rai. ITC is another important partner with four hotels, in Fortune Hotels and WelcomHotels space. The company is looking at Fortune Hotels to lead the next spurt of growth. “The hotels are managed by ITC and owned by independent owners so the investment in the partnership has to make sense for hotel owners,” averred Rai, adding that, they are in the process of earmarking a set of Fortune Hotels, existing and new, which will then be considered for partnership under the Connect collection.
Pointing out that the Indian hospitality industry is largely skewed towards the branded supply, Rai stated, “We are aware about the realities of the Indian independent hospitality space. We look at hotel owners who want to build a brand of their own. Given the limitations and opportunities in the market we have done a very accurate trend forecasting and we feel confident of our ability to grow.”
The recent rebranding of Preferred Hotels & Resorts has been received very well by the consumer, according to Rai. “Earlier the focus of the company was B2B. The way the business of hospitality has evolved in the last eight-10 years the power has shifted to the end consumer. This consumer centric shift was the central pivot of rebranding. In India also keeping a clearer and stronger end consumer connect is important for us,” he said, adding that, the entire rebranding of getting away from multi branded portfolio to become a singular brand of Preferred Hotels & Resorts has been the biggest initiative. Even the sub-brands are consumer defined experiential collections. The names of the five collections – Legend, LVX, Lifestyle, Connect, and Preferred Residences, give out the definition of the experience and are not standard industry criteria. The Legend includes The Imperial, New Delhi, The Leela Palaces (Udaipur, Chennai, Bengaluru, Goa and New Delhi); LVX includes The Leela in Gurgaon, Kovalam, Mumbai; Lifestyle includes (Raintree in Chennai, Zuri in Bengaluru, My Fortune in Bengaluru and Chennai) and Connect includes (Fortune Hotels).