Having taken over the leadership position at one of the top hotel groups worldwide just four months ago, Zubin Saxena, MD and VP Operations—South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, has no time to settle in, he is already steering the team to launch its sixth brand in India.
He has been with the hotel group since February 2018. Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Vice President Operations—South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, was appointed in his new role only in December 2018. He is fortunate to be at this position at such an interesting juncture for the group and he voices it. “This is a very exciting point in my journey. We are excited about Radisson Red Mohali, which is our new lifestyle, select service brand. It will be a 160-room property and is currently in the advanced stages of construction. We are looking to launch it in the next 12 months. This will be the first Radisson Red in the Asia Pacific region and in India. We have also recently signed a 350-room Radisson Red in Noida which will open in four to five years,” he says.
The Radisson Red brand caters to the millennial customer which is one of the fastest-growing segments in India. Why Mohali? “Located near an IT Park, this hotel is being developed along with Bestech. The average age of India today is 29 years who take about 15 vacations per year. This is the segment we want to target with Red,” Saxena explains. This means any city which has a lot of young, corporate base would make for a great location.
The 160-room Radisson Red Mohali, that is in its advanced stages of construction, will be launched in the next 12 months
Close on its heels is another brand of Radisson that is getting ready to announce its debut in India – Radisson Collection, which is in the luxury space above Radisson Blu. “We would love to have the Radisson Collection brand as a palace in Rajasthan, or a high-end resort in Goa, or even a city hotel in Bengaluru with a large convention centre. We see the brand being successful in various formats across Tier I, II markets as well as resort locations. Once we have the right location and partner for this, we will announce it,” Saxena reveals.
Focus on tier cities continues
However, Radisson’s focus on tiered cities will continue. Replying to a question as to which brand is performing well in India, Saxena says, “All five brands in India are doing well. We were 1.2 per cent above RevPAR in India. India is certainly growing in Tier II, III locations and almost 50 per cent of our pipeline is coming up in these locations. So, different segments are growing in different locations. Our focus will be on increasing our average rate growth through robust revenue management.”
The fight between room supply and ARRs is not likely to subside any time soon. Saxena explains this and says, “India has always managed to exceed supply growth. You can see that trend over the last several years. I see that trend continuing this year as well. Demand will continue to outpace supply in the next few years. In the immediate future, we should see an increase in occupancy rates as well as ARRs.”
The group recently launched a new programme in South Asia called a ‘Hotel Center of Excellence’ – a workshop for General Managers in India. The group is also rolling out seven new global brand programmes including Rad Family, Radisson Meetings and Welcome India, which is dedicated to outbound Indian guests. And Saxena is overseeing this strategy.