With hotels across most Indian cities surpassing previous year’s performance, India’s hospitality market has recently witnessed an appreciable increase in nationwide occupancy as well as a nominal growth in average daily rates. With minimal future addition of supply expected across most markets, double-digit growth in demand is also on the cards, over the next few years. This, coupled with all macro-economic factors pointing squarely toward a general resurgence in the general environment, the country’s hospitality landscape finally appears to be approaching a bright spot. Against this backdrop of renewed confidence and optimism, Hotel Investment Conference South Asia (HICSA) gains momentum for its 13th edition, once again bringing to fore the most relevant subject matter, key issues and latest industry trends that shape and transform the future of hospitality businesses in South Asia, as well as, around the world.
HVS, the world’s leading hospitality consulting and services organisation, is hosting yet another edition of this major industry event, on April 5-6, 2017 in Mumbai. After a two-year stint in New Delhi, HICSA will move back to India’s financial capital and its very own home base – Mumbai, with the conference being held once again at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Over the last 12 years, the conference has consistently managed to scale greater heights, establishing itself as one of the most coveted forums for all industry players in the region. Each year the conference brings together more than 500 delegates from over 20 countries, comprising the best and the brightest from the region’s as well as the global hospitality industry.
HICSA 2017 will have a power-packed Global CEO Panel showcasing the frontrunners of four of the most respected global hotel companies, namely Christopher J Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide; Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Rakesh Sarna, managing director and CEO, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, and Vikram Oberoi, managing director and CEO, The Oberoi Group. The conference will also feature a series of powerful keynote addresses by eminent industry specialists, such as Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog; David Scowsill, president and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council, and Michael Issenberg, chairman and CEO – Asia Pacific, AccorHotels.
The hotel transactions environment has started to pick up pace in India; rationalisation in sell-side asks coupled with infusion of institutional equity on the buy-side signal a maturing deal-making universe. Going forward, the market is expected to see an uptick in transaction volumes with a number of institutional players entering the market, and the session titled ‘Institutional Capital Chasing Hotels: Timing the Entry and Exits’ on Day 2 of HICSA will further delve into the subject. Another trend, not to be missed, is the augmentation of the leisure space for hotel accommodation in India today. Earlier in 2016, HVS through its extensive market knowledge and research, challenged and demystified an industry paradigm that ‘leisure lacks the ability to make money’.
Taking a cue from the above, HICSA 2017 will have two dedicated sessions on the subject, where stakeholders directly involved in the business of leisure, wellness and luxury will further explore the tremendous and untapped potential this segment holds. Furthermore, despite the overall hotel market witnessing robust demand growth outpacing new supply, and a steady rise in occupancy levels, the large majority of Indian hotels have only recorded a marginal ADR increase. In the Day 2 session – ‘Why Are We Struggling with Room Rates?’ representatives of prominent hotel companies will explore the reasons why and, at the same time, identify plausible solutions to address this acute challenge.
HICSA 2017 will also have special emphasis on the hotel owners. The event will open with an exclusive pre-conference ‘Owners’ Only Roundtable’ in an effort to provide owners a platform where they can jointly and candidly express their views and concerns. The roundtable will feature focussed discussion topics such as management contracts, sale and leaseback, and project development case studies, among others. The conference will also see a number of owner-driven panel discussions led by the some of the most prominent hotel owners in the South Asian region. Every year, the conference successfully brings together representatives of more than 100 ownership groups, and the 2017 conference is already well placed to exceed last years’ numbers.
Last but certainly not the least, this year HICSA will recognise Dr AB Kerkar as the recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. Presently the chairman of V Hotels, Dr Kerkar needs no introduction in the hospitality industry, being one of the key personnel responsible for the success and expansion of the Taj Group of Hotels, which grew from a single hotel company into an international chain of 50 hotels during his 35-year tenure at the helm of affairs.
The conference this year will feature industry stalwarts such as, but not limited to Arun Nanda, chairman, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India; Ashish Jakhanwala, MD and CEO, SAMHI; Binod Chaudhary, chairman, CG Corp; Craig Smith, president – APAC, Marriott International; Deep Kalra, chairman and group CEO, MakeMyTrip; Jonathan Vanica, managing director Asian Special Situations Group, Goldman Sachs; Kapil Chopra, president, The Oberoi Group; Kavin C Bloomer, executive director, Morgan Stanley; Peter Henley, president and CEO, Onyx Hospitality; Peter Kerkar, group CEO, Cox and Kings, and Thorsten Kirschke, president – APAC, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, to name a few.
Not to forget, the ‘HICSA Hotels of the Year Awards’, now in its ninth year, will again have the most outstanding new hotel developments in the South Asian region being recognised. The nominations will include all hotels that commenced operations in the past one year, across five categories: Luxury & Upper Upscale Segment; Upscale Segment; Upper Mid Market Segment; Mid Market Segment and Budget & Economy Segment. Shortlisting will be done by an independent panel of judges and the best new hotel in each category will be determined via an online voting process by HICSA 2017 delegates. The winners will be announced on DAY 1, as part of the conference programme.