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.