Marriott International spreads its golden wings with the recent opening of its 100th hotel in India. And this does not end here! Known for its world-class hospitality and network, it has a pipeline of more than 50 signed projects. The brand aims to ensure it excels in delivering the bespoke hospitality. Neeraj Govil, Area Vice President, South Asia, Marriott International gives a sneak peek into the upcoming brands and also, sheds some light on successfully reaching the magical ton figure in India.
After more than a decade of accelerated growth in India, Marriott today has more than 20,000 rooms and 15 brands in 32 cities that create economic opportunities across the country. More than 30,000 people currently wear a Marriott badge in India, and another 3,000 people are expected to join the company this year.
The opening of Marriott’s 100th hotel– Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center underscores the company’s commitment to catering to India’s growing affluent market. Sharing the excitement, Neeraj tells, “It feels great to open our 100th hotel in India as it’s a great milestone for Marriott to achieve. We are immensely grateful to our partners, associates and customers who have helped us in this journey. It is something we are not going to restrict ourselves to, as India as a market has tremendous opportunities. The group has already opened two hotels after this, which makes it pretty clear that we are not going to stop at 100.”
Elucidating the potential of the brand in India, he comments, “With the kind of opportunity India presents, we should continue to move forward. If you look at our pipeline, today, we have 50 hotels at various stages of construction out of which 16 hotels are expected to open this year. So, a lot of activities are already happening and even more are planned in the next couple of years in the country.”
Neeraj truly believes that customer response and business are tied together only when your customer likes what you offer and appreciates you for creating various brands at various locations. He further mentions, “Marriott witnessed magnificent business results over the years and that is because of our patrons. Our customers continue to stay, eat, dine and use the facilities of our hotel. We are confident that going forward, we will continue to open hotels as there is a high demand. The increase in the domestic travel as well as international travel is giving us opportunity to grow even better.”
Marriott entered into India market in the year 1999 with the opening of Goa Marriott Resort and after that there has been no looking back for the group. Commenting on the penetration into the market, Neeraj opines, “We obviously had a strategy to open number of hotels in tier I cities. Initially, we started with Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi. Gradually, we evolved into tier II and now into tier III markets. With presence in tier II and III markets, we evolved a number of brands in the country. Today, we have a good distribution in about 32 locations in India with successful brands, so it has been a great and exciting journey. Even if you look back, we have grown quite considerably in India now.”
With 102 hotels operational today, the group is poised to further grow its leadership presence in India in the years to come. Neeraj further elaborates, “We are opening an average of 15-20 hotels every year and we would like to continue at the same pace. It’s about ensuring that we are successful in every segment and market we operate in. Our benchmark is to ensure that we continue to be at the forefront of delivering excellent hospitality. Our focus is to ensure great returns for our owners and investors and provide phenomenal carrier opportunities to talent that works for Marriott.”
Marriott has 30 brand worldwide out of which 15 brands are operational in India. Neeraj shares, “The group has signed three new brands that are going to open soon. One of them is ‘Tribute Portfolio’ that is likely to open by the end of this year in Kochi. We are also looking at bringing in ‘Moxy’ and ‘Delta’. In addition to that we are very actively pursuing opportunities to bring some other brands to India as well.”
“Marriott is doing tremendously well in India. All of the 15 brands here are exceptionally well positioned,” Neeraj asserts. He adds, “The customer satisfaction scores are very high. India continues to lead South East Asia in terms of our customer satisfaction scores. India has a great legacy of providing great hospitality, it is something that Indian hotel brands have been synonymous with. So we focus on providing excellence in hospitality and great consumer service to our customers. As a hospitality company in India, we understand that there is no fixed solution for any hotel as each market behaves very differently and each part of this country is a different micro market in itself. It is very important that our hotel reflects the need of the local market.”
Marriott believes in adapting itself as per the market it caters to. “We provide bespoke solutions that are relevant to the market we operate in. For example, the way we operate in Chennai is very different from the way we operate in Delhi. Because the customers are different, the culture is different, the culinary requirements are different and most importantly, the expectations of the guests are different. In these markets, you have to adapt accordingly. One case in point that we are focused is that we provide great local food in line with the market we operate in. Each market is very different in terms of behaviour and requirement so success does not come easy if one is not able to understand these factors and adapt accordingly,” he concludes.
The group has signed three new brands that are going to open soon. One of them is ‘Tribute Portfolio’ that is likely to open by the end of this year in Kochi. We are also looking at bringing in ‘Moxy’ and ‘Delta’. In addition to that we are very actively pursuing opportunities to bring some other brands to India as well.