Televisions and displays are important elements in elevating the guest experience. In an attempt to understand some trends in technology in the hospitality space and how LG is positioning itself in the marketplace, we interacted with Hemendu Sinha, Business Head – India B2B Business solutions on the sidelines of Grand Tech Seminar – an event held recently in the capital. Excerpts of the interview.
Tell us a little bit about the event. What is the idea behind this?
The event is called the Grand Tech Seminar. We want to take our technology to our consumers and we interact with them on a day-to-day basis during a sales call. But this is purely a B2B initiative where we showcase what LG has to offer to the industry and enterprises. This is, typically, a three-city event at regional levels on an annual basis. Our Delhi event is aimed at North and East of India as region for our customers and partners. We have here showcased OLED TVs. It is a revolutionary technology and it could change the display industry in the consumer and B2B segments.
We are the world leaders, and far ahead of anybody as far as home appliances are concerned. There are a lot of products which we are not marketing in India. We have limited our offerings in India, in the B2B space, to display products and commercial air-conditioning.
What are they? For example?
For example, solar. LG is a very strong player in the solar segment in the European market.
But why not India? India is set to become the solar capital of world and has the purchasing power.
Absolutely. I am trying to bring in those products here but, unfortunately the capacity that LG has is, may be, not enough to cater to European, North American and Korean market, and India. The moment we expand and are ready to cater to the Indian market, we will bring those products in India. I am trying my level best to do that.
Given that you cater to a lot of hotels, please share with us some trends in the space. Also, there is a lot of activity happening in the mid-segment market. Is the momentum reflecting in your business as well? Is there a rub-off?
It is happening. One of the important trend is that the customer, today, not only in the mid-segment but also in premium hotels, is going for a differentiated experience. It is the differentiated experience which helps hotels retain guests. This is where we are pitching in OLED Tv. Hotels are asking for this premium product, so that they can be one-up against the competition.
The ease of maintenance is very important. Hotels ideally want products are easy to maintain, centrally controllable, and do not add to the cost of operations.
We are bringing a product called Pro: Centric Direct. It is going to make life of hotel professionals hassle-free and the cost of maintenance is going to come down drastically. That is what we are looking at in the premium segment.
In the mid-segment, the way aggregators are coming in the market, they are basically getting into the OPEX (operating expenses) model. Entrepreneurs are looking for business partners to finance their models. That is the upcoming trend but the market, unfortunately, is not ready.
As and when that happens, how do you see that impacting your business?
People are getting in to the back-end and you cannot ignore it. As you said, the mid-segment is growing in a big way. So, people are gearing up to that change. We are also working on the back-end where we can work on some kind of a financial model and get into revenue sharing. We are definitely looking at that. It is a very emerging and visible trend.
It is a competitive marketspace and every player is vying for a market share in the display space. What will make LG special? What would you say to the hospitality industry?
For hotels, it is definitely a challenge to retain customers and to obtain and retain a consumer, and look for repeat business. If they deploy LG products in their properties, and the impact of displays will remain etched in the minds of consumers. They may come back just for the visual experience they get while visiting the hotel.
We are the market leaders and we are creating different form factors of products, like the ones we have showcased here in the form of Ultra Stretch displays. These products will ensure retaining consumers, thereby shoring up revenue. As I have already mentioned, it also brings ease of maintenance and increases operational efficiencies.
These products cater to premium hotels and the mid-segment. Are you considering a foray in the budget segment as well? Are you looking at it as a revenue opportunity in the near future?
We have only showcased some products here. These are the high-end ones; this may be only a 20% of the entire product range that we have. Let us not look at the cost of the purchase, a one-time cost, of a product. We provide warrantee for five years, meaning we take care of it for five years. Hotels do not have to spend any money for the next five years. Therefore, the recurring cost is completely eliminated. So, they may look expensive on the face value, but turn-out to be extremely cost effective in the span of five years. I think every hotel can afford the total cost of ownership for five years. Do not look at the MRP but the value and business it will bring in.