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COVER STORY

Patu Keswani - CMD, Lemon Tree Hotels

Friday, January 8, 2010, 10:00 Hrs  [IST]

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“I do not have a major view on the growth prospects of international tourist inflow into India as there are several agencies responsible for its increase. It also largely depends on the overall customer experience of the international traveller, which is rarely positive. Hence, while I may not be bullish about the increase in inbound tourism, domestic tourism is bound to grow in the country. Indians today want to stay in hotels rather than with their relatives and demand better product service combination in the hotels they live for the price they pay.”

Aggressive Growth: We plan to operate 19 hotels across 16 cities by 2013 under the Lemon Tree brand. This will increase our room inventory to about 2,700 rooms at the end of the current development phase. The growth strategy is to develop multiple units in the same city until we exhaust the major metro markets. In the next 10 years, we aspire to move to expand our hotel network through the ‘hub-and-spoke’ approach. Hence, while the first phase will see development in Chennai, the second phase may see our brand developing in cities like Coimbatore. As a parallel growth strategy, we aim to increase its presence in the leisure segment and will commission more resorts in Shimla, Alleppey in Kerala, Aurangabad and Goa until 2013. Our mid-market brand Red Fox on the other hand, has a faster scope of growth in the 10-year horizon. In the next two years, we will have about 1,000 rooms in our portfolio with six operational hotels. This brand has the potential to multiply to about 20,000 rooms over the next 10 years.

Price Wars: I expect that more hotel development in the mid-market and economy space will have an effect in the five-star pricing. A wider choice for the consumers will lead to increased transparency in pricing with the traditional five-star chains stepping down leading to a downward movement in prices.

 
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