Face-to-Face: Raj Rana

Q)    What is your main growth strategy that makes you different from the main competitors in the Indian industry?

Carlson Rezidor’s success is driven by organic growth working with existing strategic partners and forging new ones to develop scalable opportunities for growth. We expect expansion in cities lacking branded hotels. We maintain close alignment with owners’ objectives and are flexible in our approach. The introduction of new contracts and business models including selective franchising has helped us in advancing in strategic locations.

We offer one-stop shop solutions to our owners and provide expertise from concept stage to ideal brand fit and from construction to ramp up and beyond. Hotels benefit from our topline driving capabilities fueled by our sales force across the globe as well as marketing and loyalty programs. The superior operating performance of our hotels’ portfolio continues to result in multiple deals with existing owners.

Q)    Which part of India are you focusing more on? Why?

Our current footprint covers over 42 cities across the country. With initial inroads in the north, we now focused on western and southern parts of India. Our strategy is to concurrently strengthen our presence in state capitals, as well as emerging secondary and tertiary cities. India’s potential is huge with growing Special Economic Zones, improved connectivity, push for urbanization and an emerging class of millennial travellers. We at Carlson Rezidor are committed to India and continue to fortress our leadership position.

Raj Rana
Raj Rana

At present, Carlson Rezidor’s current operational portfolio in India, includes 75 hotels in operation and 42 under development spread across the country under our brands: Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson Red, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson.

Q)    How strong are your trade relations in India?

With a deep understanding of this market over the years, we have built strong relations with a broad range of stakeholders, including our business community, our guests, our shareholders, our financial partners, our suppliers and the government agencies and communities in which we operate. We have also become a preferred hotel partner among the top domestic and international online travel companies, destination management companies and travel management companies.

Q)    How green are the Indian ventures?  Have you come up with any new initiatives?

We give high consideration to environment and energy conservation from construction stage to post opening operation. Radisson Blu Nagpur has received the Gold rating under LEED India for New Constructions. Our hotels have sewage treatment plants with tertiary treatment cells to help recycle. Many of our hotels have achieved EarthCheck Gold and Silver certifications. Our endeavour is to expand to the entire portfolio. Our hotel rewards programme, Club Carlson has become the first hotel loyalty programme committing to a global meetings and events carbon offsetting initiative.

Q)    How close is the company towards achieving its target of operating in every Indian state capital?

By 2020, we envision to have a total of 170 operating and under development hotels in our India portfolio. At present, we have a portfolio of 117 hotels and are confident to attain our goal. To support this rapid expansion, Carlson Rezidor has strengthened the development team in India. We are now focused on further extending our India growth strategy and our strong brand portfolio, comprising midscale to upper upscale segments, including the introduction of our two brands, Quorvus Collection and Radisson Red to India.

Radisson Red is a new hotel concept where the focus is on design and detail, choice, personal interaction and technology. Its Lifestyle Elect proposition enables guests to elect the type of stay experience that best reflects their lifestyle.

Q)    What were your achievements in the year 2015? What new developments are Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group planning in the coming years?

The last few years have been challenging for the hospitality industry at large due to supply outpacing demand. However, we have seen green shoots in 2015 with occupancy gaining legs and rate gain bound to follow. This will help operating performance of hotels and instill confidence in investors and developers.

The strength of our brands and our relationships resulted in signing 15 new contracts and adding 5 hotels to our operating portfolio in 2015. Significantly, last December, we were the first international hotel operator to sign with the Mushtaq Group, a seven hotels, across the main gateway markets throughout Jammu and Kashmir, with the first hotel expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2016 in Srinagar. We have also launched the Radisson Red brand in India with the signing of a 157-key hotel in Mohali, Punjab last year and this hotel is scheduled to open in 2018.

In the years ahead, we are expecting to sign 12-14 new agreements and open seven or eight hotels.

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