At Global Hospitality Conclave 2018, industry bullish on the ‘India story’

Global Hospitality Conclave 2018 concluded recently in Gurugram. In several engrossing sessions and keynotes, top hoteliers and industry honchos reflected on the changing matrix of businesses in the hotel industry, online travel and tourism and luxury travel segments, among others.

A major takeaway of the deliberations was an underlying concurrence on the opportunities in the Indian market. Cutting across segments, industry insiders were vocal in their forecast that unprecedented business opportunities were imminent and much of this growth was going to be driven by an aspirational middle-class.

Pramod Bhasin, considered the pioneer of the outsourcing industry in India, urged entrepreneurs to demonstrate stronger appetite to take risks and suggested that it was crucial to drive innovations. He also noted that innovators and entrepreneurs needed to avoid focusing on the financial dynamics of the business.

Similar sentiments were echoed by PayTm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma. He termed the unfolding online business expansion by the home-grown company “a race against time” before global giants with deep pockets ventured in the Indian market, titling the scale in their favour.  

Puneet Chhatwal, the recently inducted head of Indian Hotels Company, having spent nearly three decades abroad, shared his views on the transformation in the hospitality landscape in the country. He expressed hope on the growth of hotel business in secondary and tertiary markets in the coming years but was quick to add that hotels were still dependent on a handful of key markets for revenue generation. He admitted that he was mindful of the Taj legacy but shied away from sharing details on the road ahead for the hotel group.

Ajay Singh, CMD SpiceJet, suggested that a revolution had begun in the Indian aviation industry and strong tailwinds awaited the sector. He also briefly outlined SpiceJet’s miraculous recovery from utter oblivion, sharing that the carrier was on its way to acquire one hundred seaplanes with an eye on circumventing chocking airport infrastructure.       

Aman Nath, a strong votary of preserving India’s heritage, in his trademark style, minced no words and asked affluent hotel companies to step up and do more to preserve Indian heritage structures. He expressed concern over the definition of “luxury”, increasingly adopted by hotels, and advocated assimilating Indian ethos in their offerings.

Former top diplomat Shyam Saran stressed that India’s pluralistic heritage and cosmopolitan population was an advantage – which needed to be preserved – in a globalized world. Businesses in India were not insulated from global upheavals and unfoldings, he noted, and suggested businessmen to be more agile in their approach.

In two sessions, panelists spoke on trends in the online world and challenges faced by startups in the travel segment, and more.

For the uninitiated, Global Hospitality Conclave is organized by the alumni of the erstwhile Oberoi School of Hotel Management (OSHM), now The Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development (OCLD). 

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