Accor is aiming to almost double its network in India to more than 100 hotels by CY27, according to Puneet Dhawan, senior vice president, operations, India and South Asia. The hospitality major, which entered the country in 2005, currently has 55 hotels in its portfolio across ultra-luxury, luxury, premium, midscale and economy segments.
Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Ibis, Grand Mercure, Mercure and Ibis Styles are among the nine brands operated by Accor in India. The most popular among them are Novotel and Ibis with 21 and 20 properties, respectively.
Accor has a joint venture with InterGlobe Enterprises, as part of which all Ibis hotels in India are jointly owned by both companies and managed by the former.
“Our goal is to get to over 100 hotels in the next five years. We have a very aggressive and ambitious expansion plan. We are engaging with a lot of existing partners and talking to new partners who are really motivated by the India growth story when it comes to hospitality. We believe in the next five years we will be able to double our network,” Dhawan told FE.
In CY22, Accor will open new Ibis hotels in Hebbal (Bengaluru) and Thane. Also, new Novotel hotels will come up in Mumbai and Jodhpur this year. Besides, the company will expand its ultra-luxury portfolio by opening a new Raffles property in Jaipur next year.
Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry, Dhawan said no one had a playbook on how to handle the pandemic. “Businesses do go up and down. But it was the first time that all the hotels were shut. If we look at CY19 as a benchmark year, the shortfall in topline for the hotel industry was anywhere from 50% to 60% in CY20 and CY21,” he said.
With healthy pent-up demand and an uptick in corporate travel and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), Accor’s revenues in April and May of CY22 were 40% above the figure recorded in the same months of CY19.
“This is a very encouraging sign as our losses were very deep (due to Covid-19). Now, the recoveries are quite strong. Secondly, the volumes are much higher now than CY19 and the rates are continuing to increase as well,” Dhawan said.
In a recent report, HVS Anarock said the Indian hotel sector ended CY21 with a country-wide occupancy of 42-45%, up 10-13 percentage points year-on-year, resulting in a 24-27% increase in RevPAR (revenue per available room). It expects country-wide occupancy to improve to 66% and ARR (average room rate) to increase 28% in CY22.
With international flight services resuming only recently in March, Dhawan said despite the absence of corporate or leisure travel into India, the hospitality industry is doing much better occupancies in CY22 than CY19, which indicates that domestic demand is very strong.
“A couple of segments are driving that. There is corporate demand. The b-leisure (business and leisure) demand is still there. Also, staycations are continuing. Even the weekends are stronger now as compared to CY19,” Dhawan said.
Besides, the wedding segment has seen huge growth in India. “We will do close to about 100 weddings in CY22 at Fairmont Jaipur. In CY19, we did around 70 weddings there. We are seeing a huge demand at Raffles Udaipur as well for buyout wedding events,” he said.
Having close to 8,000 employees in India at present, Accor is also planning to hire more individuals as it expands its network.
“The company is constantly hiring individuals for the hotels it is planning to open this year,” Dhawan said. Accor is hiring close to 300 people for the Novotel hotel coming up in Mumbai, nearly 150 for Ibis Hebbal and around 100 for Ibis Thane.