100 AND COUNTING
Hotelier India|October 2021
100 operating hotels, 14 new launches in 2021 and 60 more within five years. That sums up Radisson Hotel Group’s ambitious plans for India

Here is an interesting thing about milestones. After achieving one, most dynamic leaders don’t waste time breathing easy. Instead, they would rather inspect these milestones fading in their rearview mirror as they race ahead to achieve the next one.

That is what Zubin Saxena, MD and VP-Operations, South Asia of Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) is working at.

The hotel chain recently achieved a landmark of 100 operating hotels in India with the opening of Radisson Bhopal, within two decades of operations. However, Saxena is not interested in resting on these laurels.

While the company already has seven brands across over 60 locations in key business, leisure and gateway centers in the country, he is focusing his attention on opening 14 new hotels in 2021 and over 60 hotels in the next five years. What’s more, he wants to ensure that the owner renewal percentage stays well above 95%.

What really gives any brand a competitive advantage is having a high-quality mindset, which then leads to sustainable long-term growth.” —Zubin Saxena, MD and VP-Operations, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group.

Here are some excerpts from his interview with Vinita Bhatia:

Having 100 operating hotels in your portfolio is quite a feat. How could RHG maintain its growth momentum in recent months when the industry was undergoing severe challenges?

We have been growing at a very stable pace for the past couple of years and are opening an average of 12 to 15 hotels every year. We continued this trend despite the challenges since the pandemic.

We have opened six hotels this year and plan to open nine more in the coming months. However, it is not just about growth alone. What really gives any brand a competitive advantage is having a high-quality mindset, which then leads to sustainable long-term growth.

During the peak of the pandemic, our corporate teams and hotel staff worked extensively to redefine our operational architecture, which we call our ‘India Unification Plan’. It unlocked a lot of efficiencies in the system and consequently strengthened our operating margins.

Now that the market is slowly recovering, our operational blueprint is helping us deliver industry-leading benchmarks. In fact, we managed to sign eight new hotels in 2020. This really boiled down to our operational excellence and focus on high-quality growth.

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While RHG launched its 'India Unification Plan' in 2019, which elements were tweaked to help it maintain its growth trajectory in the past 19 months?

Being operationally driven and in constant pursuit of excellence has helped us immensely. Both these aspects depended heavily on how we elevated guest experience across portfolio.

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