IHG to double its presence in India over the next 3-5 years
“We currently have 41 properties across five brands in India and we will be opening around 40 more in the next 3-5 years. IHG will bring more luxury brands here like Regent and Kimpton; the premium brand voco and the recently launched Vignette collection. So far (since mid-2020) domestic travel has supported hotel demand and now international arrivals will also start to India. Companies that cater to Indian small and medium business demand are also back,” Mattar said.
Like most major hotel chains, IHG had also laid off some of its employees in India during Covid and currently has 5,000 employees here. “Unfortunately, like all other companies, we have had to cut wages, ask some to go on unpaid leave and reduce our workforce. Now, with the recovery, we have started hiring again and vacancies are posted on our site Mattar said.
The UK-based hospitality company founded in 1777 has come up with unique ways to cut costs during the pandemic to support owners during Covid, including giving them software to optimize labor utilization – a key expense.
Interestingly, he has developed technology to analyze exactly what ends up in the trash. “It helped us to design menus by analyzing what items were left most by customers in buffet meals. We found oats and porridge at the top of the list. As a result, they were removed from the menu from the buffet and retained on the a la carte menu. Through several other measures such as optimizing capital expenditure, we have helped owners streamline their overall operating costs. One property saved $65,000 in annual expenses,” he said.
Mattar added that the owners of some standalone properties in India, like in other countries, have approached major hotel companies for theft to brand security.
IHG’s 28 Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Express (which fall under the essentials category) in India account for 70% of IHG’s operating portfolio here. There are 10 Crowne Plazas (premium category) and three luxury properties – two InterContinentals and one Six Senses. IHG is bringing its sixth brand to India with Staybridge Suites in the country and more will now follow.
Besides India which is enjoying a strong recovery, Mattar says hotel activity in some Middle Eastern markets such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia has now exceeded 2019 levels. “The United States is recovering quickly. Greater China is seeing good business from people wanting to get out of the big cities there. In India, the average occupancy rate until the end of 2021 was 65-70%, with Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai exceeding 80%. Tariffs in India are 15-20% lower than pre-Covid and expected to go back up by the end of the year,” he says.