US-based global hospitality chain Carlson that owns and operates hotel brands such as Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inns & Suites plans to have around 100 hotel properties in the country by 2015. India is important to Carlson’s global expansion plans, Hubert Joly, president and CEO told HT. Excerpts:
Your expansion plans for India seem ambitious. Did the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai influence your strategy?
Well, we are in an industry that is subject to be affected by such events... terror attacks, volcanic ash cloud in Europe or such things. But we tend not to focus on the negativities and look at India from a very strategic focus.
There will be certain bumps along our way but the opportunities and positives far outweigh. For instance, there is about 0.1 hotel rooms per 1000 people in India — compared to 15 per thousand in the US and 10 per thousand in Europe. Even China has close to 2 rooms per thousand people. With India’s fantastic growth there is great business potential.
How are you growing in India?
We had around 28 hotels in our kitty in 2009 and will have around 36 in 2010. By 2015 we plans to have around 100 hotels across 42 cities. We might also pick up minority stakes in some hotel projects in the country.
The importance of India for Carlson’s global business…
Carlson’s ambition is to grow its hotel portfolio by more than 50 per cent by 2015. In 2009 India accounted for around 3 per cent of out hotels but by 2015 this will touch 7 per cent.
Do you own these hotel properties?
We focus on managing hotels as opposed to building hotels and owning them. We provide services and our brand name. It is a fee-based-revenue-share model.
What about smaller cities?
We already have a presence in smaller cities. We plan a big push in mid-scale cities such as Vijaywada, Cochin and Ludhiana.