Interview with Seema Roy, area managing director for South Asia, Middle East & Africa at Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The network with a personal touch

Interview

November 13, 2019

/ By / New Delhi

India Outbound

November - December 2019

imperial-hotel

Preferred Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest independent hotel brand, representing more than 750 hotels in 85 countries. In an exclusive interview with India Outbound, Seema Roy, area managing director for South Asia, Middle East & Africa at Preferred Hotels & Resorts, recounts her experience in the hospitality segment and highlights the importance of a niche marketing strategy in the region.

Seema Roy, Area managing director for South Asia, Middle East & Africa at Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Seema Roy, area managing director for South Asia, Middle East & Africa at Preferred Hotels & Resorts

What is Preferred Hotels & Resorts?

Preferred Hotels & Resorts is what we call a chain of best in class, independent hotels and resorts globally. We have more than 750 hotels across 85 countries. When I say independent hotels, I mean standalone independent one-hotel property like the Imperial New Delhi or small regional chains like we have a partner in Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts that have nine properties and is very strong regionally and domestically but we work with them on international reach and visibility.

What are your areas of focus?

What we do or what we bring to the table for our hotels is global sales support, international marketing, a very big part of marketing is loyalty, distribution which is our revenue management and e-distribution capability, cost efficiency by way of partnering with vendors and suppliers to get discounted pricing for all our hotels. Considering we have more than 750 hotels, it is easier sometimes for us to negotiate better than a single hotel.

What is your USP?

Because it is a family-run business, value system is at the core of almost everything we do. Relationship with our hotels, with our associates, with our customers, with our trade partners is extremely critical and one of our biggest USPs is our people, because these are the people who are maintaining the relationships in the market. It is not like becoming just a member of some network that has thousands of hotels. We have more than 750 hotels but we also have about 36 offices servicing these hotels. We have large regional teams to support, provide on-ground capabilities to these hotels which is extremely important. I think one of the ethos, as we mentioned, is our global structure mixed with local support.

What are your CSR activities?

Our CSR initiative is called GIFTS, great initiatives for today’s and tomorrow’s society. We work extremely closely with our hotels, with our associates and of course as a brand Preferred Hotels & Resorts is extremely committed to the community and to the environment. We partner with companies which are global, hotels which have access to and they can either work with those charities or work with local charities and we support them in doing so. A way of motivating our hotels, encouraging them to do better, is by rewarding them. So at our global conference, we have something called Pineapple awards, our logo is a pineapple if you notice. Pineapple awards are basically to recognise hotels doing their best to give back to the community and the environment.

What are the trends that you observe in Indian travellers?

They are travelling multiple times in a year. You know instead of waiting a few years to do a one big vacation, there are smaller weekend getaways, there are staycations, there are bigger holidays which are planned with not just family, there are you know solo women travellers travelling, there are groups of friends travelling to celebrate silver anniversary and what not. There is a lot of evolution that has happened vis a vis an Indian traveller. Also what they are choosing is very well researched. They are looking for a lot more experience, a lot more value. It is not just go and stay in a property, I think we do see a lot more people asking for ‘what is the experience I’m going to get when I stay on that property?’ and this is only from the hotel point-of-view. I think that the first-time travellers are looking at slightly more accessible, short-haul destinations like Thailand and Singapore. We have travellers who have done these destinations multiple times, so they are probably not looking to go back to Bangkok, Phuket, they will probably go to Krabi or Kiri. You know they do destinations which are untouched or which are probably not as frequented by other Indian travellers. So they would go back to the same destination but maybe try a different island. Or they would try absolutely different locations. This year only I don’t know maybe there were 10-15 people in my own circle, I heard were going to Greece or Portugal or Spain. So you know all of these are coming up more and more as we see each year.


Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Dubai

Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, Dubai

Over the last 17 years, Preferred Hotels & Resorts has witnessed a great growth in the region. It has partnered with prominent Indian hotel groups such as the Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts and ITC’s Welcom Hotels and Fortune brands. At present, Preferred Hotels & Resorts has a diverse portfolio in India with more than 40 hotels across significant business and leisure destinations in tier 1, 2 and 3 cities.

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