Tina Edmundson, Global Brand Officer, Marriott International
“India remains an important market in our global growth strategy and we have more than 80 hotels in the pipeline,” says Tina Edmundson, Global Brand Officer, Marriott International to Forbes India. We will reach 100 operating hotels by end of the year and we will continue our growth momentum and bring in more brands to the country, she adds. These will be in luxury, premium as well as select service brands across metropolitan cities, as well as Tier 2 and 3 markets. Please throw some light on your expansion plans in India. The number of hotels you currently run and how many you plan to open in the future? Any particular investment amount you have earmarked for India over the next five years?
Marriott International currently has 84 hotels in India across 15 brands, including The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, among others. India remains an important market in our global growth strategy and we have more than 80 hotels in the pipeline. We will grow our luxury, premium as well as select service brands across metropolitan cities, as well as Tier 2 and 3 markets in the country. In India, we have the second most number of properties and rooms after China. We will reach 100 operating hotels by end of the year and we will continue our growth momentum and bring in more brands to the country. How would you compare the hospitality industry in India with that of China?
With increased connectivity, the rise of outbound travel and all-round globalization, I actually think that there are more similarities between Indian and Chinese travelers than differences. They are defined more by their interests and mind-set than their geography and demographic and are likely to have more in common with a young business entrepreneur from San Francisco than with their next door neighbor. It is also important to realise that both the Chinese and Indian luxury consumer mindset has evolved rapidly, shifting to true luxury connoisseurship, with a deep appreciating and understanding of craftsmanship and authenticity. It is understood that Marriott ousted the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces to emerge as the biggest hotel chain in India last year post its $14 billion acquisition of Starwood. How has the merger helped and how is the synergy going?
I think it is probably one of the most exciting times in the company’s history and there is this general feeling of excitement in the air. The merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts happened only a couple of months ago and we are laser-focused to build the world’s most favorite travel company. Our guests are excited to see what we are doing in the loyalty space and we have some groundbreaking work underway. For me personally, I want to ensure that our brands are very clearly defined by further highlighting the distinct nuances that make each brand unique, which in turn will help guests choose the experience that fits their needs best. Please throw some light on the Marriott International Luxury Brands. Do you think the luxury customers and their preferences are changing?
W Goa opened with much buzz in December last year which marked the arrival the iconic W brand into India. Prior to that, we debuted the storied St. Regis brand in India with the opening of The St. Regis Mumbai in September 2015. Marriott International’s luxury portfolio in India currently includes 22 hotels, representing five of the eight luxury brands part of the company. Our future pipeline is equally robust – in the next five years, we are scheduled to open three hotels part The Luxury Collection brand in partnership with ITC Hotels, JW Marriott Jaipur, The Ritz-Carlton, Mumbai and W Mumbai. We remain committed to, and bullish on India and are constantly looking for the right opportunities with the right owner partners to expand our current footprint and debut our three other luxury brands; Ritz-Carlton Reserve, EDITION Hotels and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts. Today, our guests are more global and better connected than ever before, with their approach to luxury decidedly less formal, entirely more personal, and defined more by their interests and mind-set than their geography and demographic. Luxury is also no longer prescribed… all the stereotypes have gone out of the window and the definition of luxury varies vastly these days depending on who you ask.