IGH: A successful partnership
InterGlobe Hotels (IGH) is a partnership between InterGlobe Enterprises and Accor Asia Pacific to develop ibis hotels across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The company has a strong pipeline of hotels, and will have in its portfolio 22 operational properties by 2022. Following the opening of ibis Pune Hinjewadi earlier this year, the company announced the commencement of construction of ibis Vikhroli in Mumbai. Ibis Kolkata Rajarhat is expected to start operations soon, while Novotel Richmond Road in Bengaluru will welcome guests by 2020. Construction of ibis hotels at Thane (Mumbai) and Hebbal (Bangalore) is also expected to start soon.
Speaking about how the partnership has worked so well, JB Singh, president & CEO, InterGlobe Hotels said, “What this joint venture does is right from inception and planning we have complete visibility what a hotel should look like, the process should look like. From back of the house to every floor is scientifically designed to make it sustainable – energy efficient, employee efficient, all processes are efficient. At the planning stage every light point gets debated, etc.”
Singh pointed out that now that there 18 hotels, they have perfected the whole transition of developing and operating. “We have understood each other’s roles in this – as developing and operating partner. When we open a new hotel, everything is mapped out and documented and a lot of stress is taken out. It is all on auto pilot with strong processes. As the hotel nears completion, the Accor team takes over and it seamlessly transitions. Accor wanted to grow in India they were looking for a partner who understood the market. We have been around a long time.”
He asserts there is no competition, “The hotels that we are building are very unique – in experience and efficiencies. While there are people dabbling in this space they do not have it put together in a smart way. So we have created a niche for ourselves. The corporate market views us as an efficient and stylised hotel, which gives great value and is consistent with the offerings. We are viewed as a very strong product in terms of hygiene and safety. 80 per cent of our customers are from India, which is a great thing. The Indian consumer likes it. We have tailoured our food offerings along that. 50 per cent of our customers are repeat customers. We get a good mix of corporate and FIT guests.”
IGH will keep its focus on the ibis space, however Singh averred that they might put up a Novotel, like in Bangalore. “We want to keep our focus on ibis space as the middle class will double in 10 years. Only 17 per cent of hotels in the market address this middle class. Otherwise they pay so much more. We believe there is a lot of opportunity,” he mentioned.
Jean-Michel Cassé, COO, India and South Asia, AccorHotels believes that the partnership is successful because of many reasons. “Interglobe is an ethical company. It is well established and considers that the hotel industry is complementary to the aviation, distribution, travel industry. Bringing our knowhow along with their own knowhow is a very good and beautiful association,”
Accor is going to continue focusing on its partnership with Interglobe to further developing and enhancing the ibis Hotels, and also developing the Novotel brand. “We are also looking at the upscale, luxury space. Since the acquisition of Fairmont Raffles we realise that it is giving us a different way of owners looking at us. We are coming as a real strong opportunity in the market in the luxury space and we are increasingly seeing opportunities. This is the way forward in terms of development.”
Pullman Delhi is the only one in India today and Cassé hopes to develop more in India because it belongs to luxury space. He also pointed out that Sofitel BKC is a powerful brand in Mumbai now. More investments have been made on Fairmont Jaipur. “We are associated with the Banyan Tree and have the right of developing the brand in India – for smaller inventory in luxury leisure space. Either in vineyards, by the sea or the hills – I believe the Banyan tree here is what the leisure market requires in terms of luxury positioning. Banyan Tree is an opportunity,” mentioned Cassé.