Home Hotel Connect Domestic Hotels India’s Hospitality Ecosystem is Rapidly Evolving: Zubin Saxena

India’s Hospitality Ecosystem is Rapidly Evolving: Zubin Saxena


A majority of hotel projects are back in action with over 59,000* rooms expected to join this supply in the next five years in big-ticket markets like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Jaipur. The strong growth of domestic travel in India will help open up new destinations in India, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 markets. In an exclusive conversation, TTJ speaks with the very dynamic Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President – South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) to get an insight into the changing patterns of the hospitality industry.

– Sonika Bohra

The hospitality sector in India is well on its way to revolutionising how it runs and satisfies changing traveller demands. To meet these expectations, hotels are doing everything they can to give visitors a personalised experience, from implementing new-age technology to modernising their outreach methods. However, running a successful and profitable hotel begins with effective revenue management. It centres on determining the pricing strategies that clients from various audience segments are ready to accept, which can only be done by measuring and keeping track of the supply and demand of the hotel rooms.

The seismic shift in the hotel industry is quite evident, as with the new normal came new challenges. Addressing the same Zubin says, “Some of the challenges faced by hoteliers to maintain a consistent revenue flow would include managing a high occupancy rate. This requires careful planning, promotion, and marketing to ensure that rooms are constantly filled and revenue is maintained. The ever-evolving customer expectations and keeping up with the latest technology, which might also include a higher cost attached to it, are some of the other major challenges observed in this industry. Hoteliers must also control their costs to maintain a consistent revenue flow. This includes looking for ways to reduce operational costs, increase efficiency, and implement costs.” While pricing remains an important factor behind driving guest choices, it’s not the only contributor to this decision-making matrix. Consumers now make choices based on preferences and have specific demands and needs. The conversation is beyond exploring the best hotel room but also getting maximum value from their experience.

Bleisure travel has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people are seeking to blend work and personal time. It allows travellers to maximise their time in a destination, combining business meetings or conferences with leisure activities such as sightseeing, exploring local culture and cuisine, or spending time with family or friends. “India’s hospitality ecosystem is rapidly evolving, and we stand ready to be at the helm of this change to offer travellers a high-quality product that is driven by distinct experiences. Trends like Staycations and Bleisure Travel have come into shape. Bleisure travel has given brands like ours, a chance to introduce relevant brands like Radisson Individuals in the country. With the recent opening of the Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individual Retreats, we have entered the era of experiential hospitality in the country. Radisson Individuals Retreats rests on beautiful properties with unique identities offering tailor-made stays that are authentic, sustainable, and memorable,” shared Zubin.

Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individuals Retreats
Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individuals Retreat

“Apart from the experience of the property, all Radisson hotels are equipped with services such as high-speed Wi-Fi, flexible check-in and check-out times, and even well-equipped workspaces with ergonomic furniture. Additional services like laundry, meals, and healthy dining options made of locally sourced ingredients and millet remain available for our guests,” adds Zubin.

With the beginning of the Staycation culture, Radisson hotels had a chance to introduce and gel up on the working co-spaces and social spaces. This is especially useful for those who are looking to travel for a longer period and need space to work. Additionally, they also offer packages that include accommodation and work-related services, such as access to a business lounge and meeting rooms. This is a great way for digital nomads to stay productive while traveling.

The perception of long hours and low pay has long been cited as the major deterrents for candidates to avoid careers in the hospitality sector. Secondly, the industry is not getting new talent /skilled people due to the lower admissions to hotel management institutes. In the last couple of years, the hotel industry has faced a major manpower crunch owing to these reasons, and as an industry veteran, Zubin who has seen this paradigm change in the industry adds, “I strongly feel that today’s generation is fuelled by passion in whatever they do. Hospitality in itself is a passionate industry where our relentless commitment to guest satisfaction and creating value for all our stakeholders drive us. There are synergies where these two visions meet and create significant opportunities for the current generation with diverse interests to become a part of India’s hospitality ecosystem. Some of our best General Managers are from banking and investment backgrounds. Moving forward also, I believe that the best minds in hospitality will come out of non-hotel backgrounds.”

At the helm of RHG brand Zubin further highlights the brand’s core belief, “We are Many Minds with One Mindset,” and we respect and value the individual differences and life experiences that our team members bring to the table. Our unique backgrounds help us make memorable experiences for all who walk through our doors. Our people are at the core of our business’ success and future. We are committed to growing and promoting talent, and this continues to be a priority for us. At RHG, we imbibe an excellence-driven mindset and share a collective vision of success – every colleague has equal ownership of this vision. With our new manning blueprint, we are nurturing a future-ready organisation that delivers efficiencies with a structured approach, led by a quality-driven mindset. We continue to invest in our talent through multiple initiatives, including talent exchange programs, the Radisson Future Leaders program which offers cross-exposure training, corporate office exposure, participation in General Manager engagement workshops, and pre-opening operations exposure.”

The trend of pent-up demand is at peak especially post-pandemic. Last year, hotels generated a major chunk of their leisure and social business through pent-up demand. In terms of supply, while there was a setback due to the pandemic, a majority of projects are back in action with over 60,000 rooms expected to join this supply in the next five years in big-ticket markets like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur. The strong growth of domestic travel in India will help open up new destinations in India, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 markets. At Radisson, they foresee that these markets will drive India’s next supply growth phase. For instance, pilgrim locations have stepped up as important source markets. “At Radisson Hotel Group, we have developed innovative business lines by responding quickly to market demands from owners as well as to changing consumer travel trends to ensure the Group maintains a dynamic business model and offerings. With 150 hotels in operations and pipeline across 64 locations in India, we are looking at doubling our footprint by 2025. We have a robust pipeline for the future and will continue our growth trajectory with 12-15 hotel signings and 10-12 hotel openings every year,” shares Zubin.

The hospitality industry is always evolving, introducing exciting new trends that make the experience of staying in a hotel more enjoyable, efficient, and luxurious. Apart from inclusive culture, personalisation, and localisation, the industry has observed major shifts in consumer patterns. Consumers these days have moved to longer and more memorable staycations rather than shorter holidays.

RHG’s diverse portfolio, present in different and unique locations in the country, has ensured a stronger presence catering to the needs of various groups in the country. From custom-crafted menus to unique activities and events, hotels are now offering guests an opportunity to truly make their stay one-of-a-kind. With tailored programs like the Rad family kids’ program, they are providing unique personalised experiences for families that love to travel. This trend will likely become even more popular soon, as hotels strive to create an experience that their guests won’t forget. RHG offers a range of services that are tailored to the individual and their specific needs.

Another notable trend observed among consumers in the recent past is a shift towards sustainable and greener stays. At Radisson Hotel Group, they have been consistently intensifying their sustainable business efforts to provide authentic and mindful experiences that also benefit the earth. To be a permanent solution to environmental problems while also balancing its economic impact, they have launched various initiatives such as Soap for Hope, Linen for Life, and Flush Me Not Program, which are built on their long tradition of being a responsible business. Environmental stewardship is becoming a bigger priority for global hotel companies and hospitality sector leaders. Economic factors are also affecting the developing industry’s tendency towards sustainability in addition to the noble goal of decarbonisation.

Eco-friendliness has also evolved from a nice-to-have to a must-have priority for a growing number of environmentally and socially conscious travellers. By becoming environmentally friendly, a hotel can attract and retain today’s eco-aware travellers while also assisting its guests in protecting the environment without compromising the quality of their stay. Sharing further on RHGs contribution to sustainable and responsible tourism Zubin says, “When it comes to The Radisson Hotel Group, we have consistently shown a commitment to the environment and have taken the lead in halting climate change. We intend to adhere to the Glasgow Declaration and achieve net-zero status by 2050. To do this, we are focusing on increasing the energy efficiency of hotel buildings, reducing the consumption of natural resources, transitioning to renewable energy, and eliminating single-use plastics. The adoption of the cross-industry Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality and the Hotel Sustainability Fundamentals project are two crucial efforts that The Radisson Hotel Group has endorsed to promote Responsible Tourism throughout the world. The 12 progress-oriented criteria for this project are focused on people, the environment, and efficient resource usage. Additionally, we have partnered with Sunfuel Electric to offer captive EV charging stations at all of our hotels in India, creating a sustainable environment for visitors and encouraging them to choose safer, more environmentally friendly, and more easily available forms of transportation.”

*Hotelivate Research 2022