Skift Take

Hilton seems to be taking a cue from its success in China and bringing a similar strategy to India. With the improving infrastructure, expanding airline services, and a large domestic market, the hotel company sees a perfect opportunity to expand its brand presence in India.

Hilton is gearing up for what it believes will be its best year yet in India. Currently operating 26 hotels in India, Hilton is set to double its footprint in the country in the next 3 to 4 years.

“Between this year and the next, we will be opening a hotel every two to three months,” said Zubin Saxena, senior vice president and country head, India of Hilton.

The recent unveiling of its 26th property, the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bengaluru, is just the beginning of its growth trajectory, Saxena told Skift.

Zubin Saxena, senior vice president and country head, India, Hilton.

Hilton’s Vision for India

Hilton is currently in 15 Indian markets and is eyeing expansion into approximately 75. These markets include state capitals, as well as emerging cities and tier two and three tier locations.

In bustling cities like Mumbai, Hilton envisions a range of offerings spanning from luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria to mid-market options like DoubleTree by Hilton. “This tailored approach extends across the top 10 markets in India, ensuring a well-balanced hospitality mix catering to all segments,” Saxena said.

Hilton also recognizes the opportunity in India’s infrastructure boom, with highways expanding rapidly, airports cropping up, and new cities emerging.

“The strategy doesn’t stop at metropolitan hubs,” said Saxena. Hilton’s “Hub and Spoke” approach involves establishing a base in key cities and then branching out into secondary and tertiary markets.

This, Saxena said, would enable the hospitality company to tap into burgeoning leisure destinations like Goa, Kerala backwaters and Kashmir, where their brands can seamlessly integrate into the local hospitality landscape.

Hilton currently has five brands present in India. Expected to open by the end of this year, Curio would be its sixth brand in the country.

The Right Mix For the Right Markets

“The profile mix of how our portfolio will be spread will be determined by the return on investment for our owners that is afforded by the various markets and a good customer value proposition,” said Saxena.

Luxury offerings will find a place in markets with higher spending propensity, while mid-market brands like Hilton Garden Inn will thrive in areas where demand is high, but the average rates are lower, he said.

But Hilton recognizes the dominance of domestic consumers in India’s hospitality sector.

“India is going to be a mid-market story. Almost 80-85% of consumption in the Indian hospitality industry is coming from domestic sources. We have to play to that market,” said Saxena.

The Brands Hilton Is Looking to Bring to India

Hilton is attentive to emerging lifestyle trends, and is therefore keen to introduce  brands like LXR, Canopy, Tempo by Hilton and Signia to meet the evolving demands of the market.

Central to Hilton’s expansion strategy is a focus on quality partnerships and brand growth, said Saxena. The three things that Hilton is looking at in terms of expansion are:

  • Seeking quality partners for luxury offerings like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad.
  • Doubling down the growth of Hilton brands.
  • Looking at opportunities in the focused service space, like Hilton Garden Inn, a fast growing portfolio across Asia Pacific.

“This year you’ll hear from us on entering new markets with the focused service portfolio,” he said.

Hilton has plans to add 3,500 leadership positions across the Asia-Pacific region by 2025.

The Skift India Summit in Delhi-NCR on March 19 and 20, will explore how hospitality companies are looking at the India market.

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Tags: asia monthly, hilton, hospitality news, india, middle class, waldorf astoria

Photo credit: Hilton's 26th property in India — the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bengaluru, Hilton Hotels

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