Tune Hotels is plotting a major expansion in the Asia Pacific region, with new deals signed in Australia and India, and plans for new budget hotels in several other markets.
Speaking to Travel Daily on Friday, Tune Hotels’ Chief Executive Officer Mark Lankester revealed that the company has signed an agreement to develop 30 hotels in India. The first of these will open in Ahmedabad in the first quarter of 2013, with further Tunes planned for destinations including Delhi, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi and Trivandrum.
Speaking about the Indian expansion, Lankester said he plans to the create brand awareness in the market in an effort to target the growing number of Indians now wanting low-cost accommodation.
“We play at the base of the pyramid, addressing the needs of the larger market,” Lankester said. “Don’t be fooled by the stories of Indian airlines going bust; there are some really strong low-cost airlines expanding in India. Corporate business is expected to be the key, and we will cater to domestic and regional business travellers. The friends and family market is also an important, as are uni students. Indians are very price sensitive.”
The brand will also roll out in Australia, with a 250-room hotel currently under construction at Sydney airport and a 235-room in Melbourne city centre. The company is also in discussions over a new property in Perth. The Sydney property marks Tune’s first airport location, but Lankester said that Tune’s overall company strategy was to open hotels in “good, central locations”.
The CEO also revealed that Tune’s first Bangkok property, which will be located on the Thai capital’s Sukhumvit Soi 14, is likely to open earlier than expected on 14 September this year. The first Tune hotel in Phuket will follow by Q1 2013, and Lankester said the Thai market also presented a major opportunity for his company.
“Hat Yai was a great entry point for us, due to the strong traffic from Malaysia. But as we understand the needs of Thai domestic travellers more, we become braver,” he said. Lankester added that developing properties in Thailand’s regional hubs such as Chiang Mai, Khon, Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Udon Thani “makes an awful lot of sense”, and that Tune could also “do another six or seven hotels in Bangkok”.
“People say that Bangkok is over-roomed, but I think there is still space to fill in the city – the Bangkok market is coming back,” he said.
Tune is also looking to expand outside Asia Pacific, with a new hotel in the Scottish capital Edinburgh opening in December, and locations in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool also under consideration. The company previously announced that it wants 10-15 hotels in London.
In the Middle East meanwhile, Tune has signed a joint venture agreement in Qatar, and is planning to roll-out the Tune brand in Doha, as well as locations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
“Now is the time to be more aggressive,” Lankester said.