AccorHotels Showcase 2018 was attended by over 1200 delegates. The day-long event in Mumbai on March 21 and in Delhi on March 23 was packed with networking sessions where attendees discovered the group’s newest offerings and met with hotel representatives from across the region. AccorHotels Showcase provides an exclusive platform to discover accommodation trends, stunning hotels and resorts from around the world, as well as the latest news about the group.
AccorHotels Showcase 2018 witnessed participation from 35 hotels and resorts from the global network along with 22 hotels from India. The delegates, representing India’s top-most travel agents, wholesalers, corporate clients, tourism partners, and MiCE organisers, made the event the largest-ever showcase of AccorHotels in Asia Pacific.
Vice President of Sales – Asia Pacific, AccorHotels, said, “AccorHotels Showcase 2018 has doubled in size which I think is a testament to how important the Indian market is to us. We are back with about 50 per cent more attendees. The event saw representation from the marquee hotels, namely Raffles Dubai and Saudi Arabia, RIXOS Turkey, Fairmont Ajman, SO Sofitel Bangkok and Singapore, Novotel Amsterdam City and Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower, Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul, Fairmont Dubai and more.”
Elaborating on the importance of the Indian market, she said, “India is a very important market to us. We have deployed extra people in this market. We used to have a team of six people trying to service the whole of India. We now have a team of 40 people focused on forming deep partnerships with our B2B customers.”
The Indian market has its own set of challenges. Reiterating this fact, she said, “It’s about finding the right brand and the right budget to go along with the customer’s requests and demands. The Indian market is a mass market. For us, it’s still about building brand knowledge because we have acquired a lot of other hotel brands as well. It’s also about the Indian customers knowing these brands and feeling confident while booking us when travelling overseas.”
Arif Patel, Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Distribution & Loyalty, AccorHotels India, was also pleased with the response the showcase received. He said, “It is overwhelming to see how AccorHotels’ brands have been accepted positively, especially our luxury brands Raffles, Fairmont and RIXOS overall, and Fairmont and RIXOS for weddings.”
AccorHotels has various brands under its umbrella. On the brand that is doing the best in the Indian market, Patel said, “Each brand is positioned uniquely. It’s not really about revenue, it’s about flow-through. Most of our hotels are very profitable for our owners. You can’t really say which hotel is doing the best because the cost of construction is different for each brand. The positive thing is that our growth is organic. We started with one hotel ten years ago. We will be opening our 50th hotel and will be opening the 20th Novotel this year. AccorHotels is all about locations. We are at the right places. In Gurugram, we are on Golf Course Road; we have three hotels at Delhi Airport; we are at the Mumbai Airport and Bengaluru City Centre as well. Also, our penetration in Goa is increasing. We have four hotels in Goa- three in North Goa and one in the South. We want to increase and densify our network while we keep our eyes open for other opportunities that come by.”
Commenting on industry disruptors, he said, “We need more disruptions, not just from a product point of view, but also in the way we are capitalising on the opportunity. We always remain in a catch-up game as an industry whether it is about MiCE or leisure. I think there is an opportunity for people to disrupt. You have Airbnb, right or wrong only time will prove, but they are becoming more and more irrelevant. OYO tried to do something but didn’t concentrate on the core element. However, they are still there and are creating a new market. So, the opportunity is plenty.”
Talking about creating indigenous experiences for guests being a French hospitality brand, he said, “It’s about ‘glocalising’ things like effort, design and service elements. Almost 99.99 per cent of our associates are Indians. I don’t think the concept of homegrown brands is a cliché anymore.”
The Indian consumer has evolved a great deal. Right from the way they make their bookings to their expectations, everything is changing. Due to our demographic, the change is rapid. Commenting on this change in how Indians now travel, Patel said, “India is ranked number one in percentage growth in solo travellers. The weddings today are getting smaller, but tasteful. People are picking new locations for their wedding. People are travelling more for sure. We are the seventh largest corporate travel market globally and we are going to be the fifth largest by 2020. By 2020, Indian outbound travel is estimated to reach 48 million. It’s actually the Indian traveller that is changing the landscape.”