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‘Investments haven’t dried up in the sector despite adverse conditions’

Hotel Operations Summit India (HOSI) and Hotel Investment Conference –South Asia (HICSA) have become two influential hotel industry conferences from the HVS India stable, known for its high-profile participation, serious deliberations and quality networking. At the door-step of another annual edition, Manav Thadani, Chairman, HVS- Asia Pacific, shares the agenda of the conferences.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 13:00 Hrs  [IST]

Manav ThadaniQ.After relaunching the HOSI last year, what kind of learnings HVS has had and how would it reflect in this year’s conference?
HOSI was well-received when it was relaunched last year; we had changed the focus entirely on General Managers. We don’t see real need for change on that front and therefore will continue to focus on General Managers and hotel operations. With that focus, we have a line up of eminent keynote speakers from a wide spectrum of the tourism industry. On the one side we have  Deep Kalra, Chairman & Group CEO, MakeMyTrip,  and on the other Kapil Kaul, CEO – South Asia, CAPA. There will be interesting discussions on topics like Asset Management, Digital Marketing,  Talent shortage, etc. at the conference. The opening keynote will be delivered by Rajeev Menon, CEO – APAC, Marriott International.

What we have included this year is a session on Food & Beverage. There is an interesting panel comprising  Riyaz Amlani, Zorawar Kalra, Rahul Khanna, Rahul Singh to discuss ‘The Dollars and Sense of F&B’.   

Q.The hotel operational climate is becoming tougher and tougher due to supply–demand issues and increasing challenges from technology aggregators.  In this context, what kind of direction HOSI deliberations will take this year?  
At HOSI, we don’t see the prospects of discussing the topic of technology aggregators.  This is primarily because many of hotels still doesn’t compete with the aggregators.  The aggregator model is by far selling budget or economy hotel inventory in the range of INR 1,500-2,000.  The General Managers whom we are addressing at HOSI are from the 4-star and above categories, and are not concerned about aggregator business. However, I will be touching the subject in my keynote address at HOSI.

Q.With new investments coming to a naught in the hotel industry in India, what kind of direction HICSA, primarily an investment conference, would be taking in this edition?
To say that investment in the hospitality sector has dried up in India is not right.  We had more than 10 big and small transactions in the sector in the last couple of years. In that respect, the country has witnessed more investments into the sector than ever before.  

But the irony in the industry is that the hotel operators haven’t been able to push their rates up despite occupancies firming up.  This is the result of lack of proper strategy on the part of the operators.  I will be taking a serious stand on this in my keynote speech at both HOSI and HICSA.  

Q.For the first time, HICSA has a state (AP)  as an official partner this time?  What is the reason behind this change and what opportunities the state have to present itself at the conference?
Yes, it is the first time a state has come on board as an official partner for HICSA.  We generally try to stay away from political leaders.  Except for once in the past, we never had political leaders speaking at our conferences.  

Chandrababu Naidu is a CEO Chief Minister and is keen to present Andhra Pradesh as an investment destinations. HICSA will help him present the opportunities in tourism and hotel sector in the state to potential investors.  

Q.Who are the speakers and which are the special sessions to be watched out for in the forthcoming   edition?  Are you planning to introduce any new feature to break the monotony?
.We have quite a few interesting sessions and speakers at HICSA this year. The session on ‘Women at the Helm – the Gender Gap’ in Hospitality industry is one of the important topics this year. We are bringing the topic back after almost six years.  Bankers, institutional investors, and hoteliers will come together to discuss another important topic – A Pulse of the India Hotel Market: Hold, Sell or Restructure.

The Leaders’ Panel on the first day  will see prominent industry bigwigs from across the region, share the stage and discuss the current state of affairs, critical challenges and future outlook for the hospitality business. The second day commences with an interesting panel discussion, exploring the potential and pitfalls of the aggregator model. The session ‘Brand Conversions: The New Norm’ will see owners and operators further delve into the nitty-gritty of hotel brand conversions. The  favourite at HICSA, the ‘Hot Seat’,  will witness  yet another exciting debate – ‘OTAs, Aggregators and Owners - What's the Role of the Operator?’

20 hotels in six categories to vie for HICSA 2016 ‘Hotels of the Year Awards’

Out of the 49 nominations received in 6 categories, the jury has selected 20 hotels, for the final reckoning of this year’s HICSA ‘Hotels of the Year Awards’. Like every year, the winners will be selected by HICSA delegates via an online voting system. The names of the winning hotels shall be announced on first day of the annual HICSA conference at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity.

The HICSA Hotels of the Year Awards were instituted to honour and recognise the most outstanding hotel developments in the previous year in South Asia. Since its inception in 2009, more than 300 hotels have been nominated in various categories.

List of HICSA 2016 ‘Hotels of the Year Awards’finalists:

Best Luxury/Upper Upscale Resort
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa Mahabaleshwar, India
Le Méridien Thimpu Thimphu, Bhutan
Best Luxury/ Upper Upscale Hotel
JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar Mumbai, India
Le Méridien Dhaka Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shangri-La Hotel Bengaluru Bengaluru, India
Best Upscale Hotel
Courtyard by Marriott Agra Agra, India
Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Outer Ring Road Bengaluru, India
Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad Ahmedabad, India
Radisson Blu Chittagong Bay View Chittagong, Bangladesh
Best Upper Mid Market Hotel
Acron Waterfront Resort (An ITC Fortune Resort) Goa, India
Fortune Park Moksha, McLeod Ganj Dharamsala, India
Hyatt Place Pune/Hinjawadi Pune, India
Novotel Imagica Khopoli Khopoli, India
Best Mid Market Hotel
Fairfield by Marriott Bengaluru Outer Ring Road Bengaluru, India
Fortune Park JPS Grand, Rajkot Rajkot, India
Lemon Tree Hotel, Gachibowli, Hyderabad Hyderabad, India
Best Budget/Economy Hotel
Hotel Formule1 Gurgaon Gurgaon, India
ibis Bengaluru City Centre Bengaluru, India
Lords Inn, Jodhpur Jodhpur, India

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