Animesh Damani, Managing Director , Platinum Hotels, Ahmedabad, talks about the future of budget hotels in India.
Kindly elaborate on your portfolio/properties?
Platinum Hotels are a group of two mid-scale business hotels in Ahmedabad. Both hotels enjoy the advantage of prime city location and easy access to the Airport and Railway Station which makes it a preferred option for travellers coming to the city.
Ahmedabad is a major business area which also makes it a major F&B market. Both our hotels are equipped with the state-of-the-art conference and banqueting facilities with 10 different banqueting venues to choose from. Moreover, we have a multi-cuisine restaurant and a European themed coffee shop at one of the hotels.
What are your expansion plans for 2019?
In 2019, we are looking to consolidate our hold on the F&B business and develop another restaurant. Presently, the real estate prices are not lucrative for the hospitality business and we are waiting for the right entry point. We are also looking forward to boosting the room capacity by 25-30% by renovating the existing floors so that we can better utilise the available space.
India’s market has seen an upward trend in budget hotel category. There are a lot of brands in this segment. Where are you carving niche for yourself?
Most budget hotels are focused on creating inventory of 50 rooms with one or two small conference halls. Moreover, the focus is completely on driving high occupancies with lower ARRs. The focus on quality of the rooms, service experience and food is lacking.
Our vision is to become the TAJ of the budget hotel category. We are looking to provide a homely yet a 5-star level of experience at reasonable prices. Majority of our senior level staff comes with an experience of at least 10 years at 5-star hotels. Hence, their service, attitude and willingness to go the extra mile for the guests make us a very different organization from the traditional budget hotels. Infrastructure wise, our rooms have a 300 sq. ft. carpet area which is 50% more than the average budget hotel room size. Apart from ample amenities, we offer multiple dining options with cuisines ranging from Indian to Chinese and European. Our banqueting facilities are the major differentiators and have attracted a lot of events including weddings and business conferences.
What kind of challenges do you face in terms of government policies and in terms of the location of your hotel, if there is any?
The biggest challenge we face is in getting quality manpower at affordable prices. The current scenario is grossly inadequate in fulfilling the requirements of the hotels. Despite major announcements of the government such as Skill India we are still to witness any changes on the ground.