India’s Hospitality Industry Is Poised for Growth

By Luciano Mazza

HKS principals Luciano Mazza and Kevin Underwood recently presented at the Hotel Investment Conference – South Asia (HICSA), held in Mumbai. In its 14thyear, HICSA presented more interviews, keynotes and TED-style master classes than ever. Underwood and Mazza’s TED-style master class, “New Trends in Resort Design: Enhanced Guest Experience and Profitability,” examined how design choices benefit both the guest and hotel operators, without compromise. Like Mazza and Underwood’s presentation, the two-day conference covered a wealth of information for hospitality professionals. Mazza shared several key takeaways:

  • In terms of size and quality, India’s human capital is phenomenal. There’s a huge and dynamic workforce, but there’s also a massive consumer base – and its buying power is on the rise, serving as a gravitational force that is pulling investment to the region. The impact will be tremendous.
  • The standard for four and five star-rated properties continues to rise; both designers and their clients need to push for quality. This is a result of rising expectations from local guests and a deep desire to elevate Indian hospitality to the next level.
  • Clients want to achieve global standards, not just Indian. The expertise of international architects is appreciated and is perceived as an added value – well worth the higher initial investment in consultancy services.
  • Challenges include the steadily rising cost of staff, an increase in goods and services taxes, bureaucratic procedures and permitting. There is a clear desire to attract more foreign investment, but these are huge obstacles that must be addressed.
  • Indian investors are looking abroad and taking significant steps in neighboring countries like Sri-Lanka, Maldives and in the Middle East. This could be the beginning of India going further to “conquer” the hospitality world.

Luciano Mazza

Luciano Mazza is a Principal and Director of Hospitality at the HKS London office. He draws upon his travels and interest in cultures to design unique contemporary solutions that consider the heritage and context of each site. Originally from Italy, he is a frequent speaker and presenter at hospitality conferences.