NEW DELHI: International hotel groups are targeting India, introducing more of their brands and moving beyond the metros into lower tier cities.

Patu Keswani, chairman and managing director of Lemon Tree Hotels, the third largest Indian chain, expects that international chains will grow their current 50% share of branded rooms to 76% by 2020, the Economic Times reported.

Marriott International – already the country’s leading hotelier with 102 hotels and 22,000 rooms – has another 50 hotels and 12,000 rooms in the pipeline.

“India is one of Marriott International’s most important markets in Asia, with the second-highest number of hotels and rooms after China,” said Paul Foskey, chief development officer, Marriott International.

“Given India’s robust economy and rising middle class, we see incredible opportunity to continue working with owners to open hotels from across Marriott’s extensive array of brands, particularly in the upper midscale, upscale and luxury segments.”

Hyatt Hotels, which currently operates 29 hotels with 7,000 rooms has indicated an intention to double its footprint over the next few years. Radisson Group has nine openings planned for 2018 and expects to end the year with a total of 100 hotels.

As international brands dominate the top end of the major cities, groups like AccorHotels, for example, are starting to shift their attention to tier two and three cities.

“We have been the first international hotel brand to enter certain locations in cities like Dwarka, Coimbatore and Kochim” said Jean-Michel Cassé, chief operating officer, India and South Asia, AccorHotels, adding that the group has a target of 80 hotels by 2020.

The mid-market and economy sectors, where international brands have yet to make the same impact as the luxury end of the market, are likely to be growth areas.

While Indian hotels can play to certain strengths, including heritage and an understanding of local markets, customer behaviour and business trends, they will also have to take on board those the international brands bring, such as global best practices, loyalty programmes and reservation networks.

Taj and ITC, for example, the two biggest Indian hotel owners with 14,000 and 9,500 rooms respectively, have established tie-ups with international brands to offer their customers access to hotels and holidays around the world.

Sourced from Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff