After establishing itself in the Indian market, Clarks Inn Group of Hotels is all set to open its latest property in Kathmandu, Nepal, reveals S.N. Srivastava, President & Co-founder, Clarks Inn Group of Hotels.
Q Please elaborate on Clarks Inn Group of Hotels’ foray into new markets? Clarks Inn witnessed huge growth in 2016 as it added a total of 21 new properties, including 12 operational hotels, last year with total tally now reaching 75 hotels. At Clarks Inn, we are most excited about making our first foray into international market with a five-star property in Kathmandu, Nepal, towards the end of 2017. New hotels opened and signed in 2016 include Bhagalkot, Buxor, Hampi, Mysuru, Patna, Shimoga, Sultanpur, Balan, Kanpur, Ara, Faizabad, Katra, Bijapur, Noida, Vasundhara, Kurloon, Greater Noida, Ujjain, two in Shirdi, and Vrindavan. Of these, 12 properties at Alwar, Bhagalkot, Dehradun, Gangtok, Gwalior, Buxor, Musoorie, Mysuru, Panchkula, Shimoga, Sultapura and Ujjain, respectively, became operational in 2016. The Group is now eyeing another year of sustained growth in 2017 and beyond, and hopes to have a 100 hotels portfolio by the year end.
Q What is the USP of Clarks Inn Hotels? After launching in 2006, Clarks Inn has emerged as the fastest growing hotel company in the budget and mid-market segments in India with a portfolio of over 75 hotels, including 40 in operation today, spread across 16 states in India and one in Nepal. The USP behind this unprecedented growth is Clarks Inn’s tremendous delivery on its brand promise, to deliver world-class and value-for-money hospitality experiences across its hotels.
Q How do you tackle competition in the rapidly growing midmarket hotels segment? Our customers and owners trust our focus on services, personalised attention, affordable rental and promise to provide great value, world-class hospitality, as well as unique offering of local, regional, Indian and international cuisines. Our record of repeat customers and customer retention is very strong. Besides, we maintain excellent post-stay connection with our guests. The unobtrusive customer database management is a huge advantage and customers feel very good about it, not only because of the seamless check-in and services that it helps us offer, but also because they are accorded due acknowledgement as our patrons.
Q On what basis do you choose a new destination for a hotel? Every region in India is showing strong economic activities and recording even stronger economic growth. Therefore, at this period of growth and prosperity in India, I personally see the ‘destination’ less of an issue for a hotel project than the execution of the plan and utilisation of the resources to the best of one’s ability and advantage. However, we do have our market research and intelligence resources, which are very unconventional and don’t necessarily follow the modern matrices like others in choosing a destination for hotel. This has been an important reason why we have been able to buck all trends and have emerged as the fastest growing hotel company in the budget and mid-market segment in India. Of course, Tier-II, -III and -IV cities have been a focus area for us, where we see little risk and stronger ROI, but that again is a fact that many hotel companies would not agree up on.
Q What kind of promotional strategies have you adopted to create awareness about the brand? Our marketing and promotional activities are comprehensive and 360 degree in nature. Our promotional outreach encompasses consumer, trade, online space, among others. Not only are we aggressive in digital space directly as well as with OTAs, but we have other channels and offline initiatives like corporate networking. We also attend trade road shows and fairs in India and overseas. We have worked hard in developing resources at unit levels to leverage each others’ strength.
Q What incentives do you offer the travel agents to boost sales? Travel agents and tour operators are one of our closest business partners and have supported us right from the beginning and vice versa. Besides engaging with them directly through our trade sales division, we also participate in travel trade fairs in India and overseas to interact with and meet prospective trade partners.
Q How do you apply technology to ease business and enhance guest experience? From seamless reservation and online booking to maintaining customer database that offer our patrons seamless check-in and later the in-room experience in all our properties, advanced CRS, CRM and other such technologies are extensively used at every stage to make our guests’ stay a delightful experience with Clarks Inn hotels. Besides, we are also constantly upgrading these technologies to provide our guests, bookers, travel agents, hotel staffs, the best of what is available in the market. Apart from upgrading its website and customer feedback system, Clarks Inn will also soon launch its own app that will not only help customers booking at the first point of touch but also offer information about our properties and the destinations they are located in.
Q How do you promote sustainability and ecotourism at your properties? Sustainability is an integral part of Clarks Inn corporate philosophy. As hotel operators, most of the properties that we operate come to us at an advanced stage of development giving us little or no say in hotels’ sustainable development. However, the properties that come to us at the greenfield stage are starkly different in adopting sustainability and ecofriendly practices. However, notwithstanding at what stage we get involved in, all our hotel operation and services, from kitchen and in-room services to back office and front desk, are strictly guided by sustainable practices.
“After launching in 2006, Clarks Inn has emerged as the fastest growing hotel company in the budget and mid-market segments in Inida with a portfolio of over 75 hotels, including 40 in operation today, spread across 16 states in India and one in Nepal.”
– S.N. Srivastava, President & Co-founder, Clarks Inn Group of Hotels