AccorHotels’ Grand Mercure debuts in Myanmar

Posted by - August 20, 2018

Grand Mercure has announced the opening of its first property in Myanmar. One of Southeast Asia’s largest and most diverse countries, Myanmar remains one of the most undiscovered destinations but is emerging as a popular travel destination.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the country welcomed just 21,000 international arrivals in 1990, that rose to 120,000 in 1995, 660,000 in 2005 and 790,000 in 2010. Last year, Myanmar welcomed 3.44 million visitors up from 2.9 million in 2016 – an 18% increase.
Overlooking the famed Schwedagon Pagoda, Grand Mercure Yangon Golden Empire features 175 guest rooms and suites designed by local artist Pyar Dade. Featuring detailed hand-painted ceilings inspired by sapphire, emerald, gold and ruby gemstones, the rooms range from 30 sqm for superior rooms to 340 sqm two-bedroom suite.
“Yangon is definitely poised to lead further growth “
Patrick Basset, chief operating officer of AccorHotels, Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia and the Maldives, said: “This is our first Grand Mercure in Myanmar and the opening of Grand Mercure Yangon Golden Empire encapsulates the cultural touchstone of the destination and heritage in bringing local stories to life.
“As Myanmar develops as a popular destination for tourists, business and corporate visitors, we expect to see significant development within the years to come. Renowned for its lush tropical trees, beautiful lakes and one of the ancient wonders of the world, Yangon is definitely poised to lead further growth in the country.”
Burmese style Culinary offerings are spread across the property’s restaurant, deli and pool bar. Flavours Restaurant offers diners a nostalgic selection of diverse international and Asian cuisine, as well as halal food.
Specialty cakes and fresh pastries are available at Mahura Deli, where guests can enjoy a casual meal along with a selection of gourmet coffees, teas or a glass of wine. A selection of light snacks, finger foods and cocktails are available at Ken pool bar beside the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a tropical lush garden.
Grand Mercure Yangon Golden Empire is the wellness area complete with an outdoor swimming pool, children’s pool, and a fitness centre. For relaxation, there is a spa with open-air Jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath, while a nearby golf course completes the suite of leisure facilities.
For meetings, private parties and weddings, the hotel boasts of two ballrooms that can host up to 400 guests with a large pre-event function area and seven meeting rooms that feature natural daylight overlooking the beautiful Yangon skyline.
Vinoth Kumar, general manager of Grand Mercure Yangon Golden Empire, said: “We look forward to welcoming business and leisure travellers to this urban garden, where our staff aims to bring captivating stories of the destination to life”.
Grand Mercure is a portfolio of charming upscale hotels that embody the authenticity of each local culture. With its origins in Asia Pacific, and further expansion planned for Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, the Grand Mercure brand now boasts more than 45 hotels worldwide.

‘Underwater’ hotel InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland opens

Posted by - August 17, 2018

China’s financial capital is set to welcome InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, a luxury hotel mostly below ground within in a deep pit of a former quarry in southwestern Shanghai, in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Developed by Shimao Group and managed by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the new property set in the southwest of Shanghai showcases unconventional design and reflects the natural landscape of the quarry it is built within.
It is located at Sheshan Mountain Range and features quiet luxury, exotic flora and fauna and world-class cuisine. 30km from Hongqiao Airport and close to attractions like Sheshan National Park and Chenshan Botanic Gardens the hotel features rooms and suites with panoramic views of Shenkeng Quarry.
The 18-storey hotel has 16 floors below ground including two underwater, and two floors above ground. With a construction area of more than 61,000 square metres, the hotel features 336 rooms and suites that feature balconies where guests can enjoy the view of the waterfalls from the surrounding cliffs. The hotel also offers a grand ballroom and four meeting rooms, including Grand Ballroom.
In contrast to the traditional architectural concept of building high-rises, InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland adopted an unconventional design of extending space beneath ground by reflecting the natural landscape of the quarry.
“Reshapes the relationship between city and nature”
Reaching down to 88 metres below ground, the hotel “reshapes the relationship between city and nature”, says the hotel company, turning an abandoned quarry into a treasure of wonder and beauty.

Olympic Holidays expands winter offering in Cyprus

Posted by - August 17, 2018

Olympic Lagoon Resort PaphosUK-based holiday provider, Olympic Holidays, has announced the expansion of its winter flying programme to Cyprus with additional hotels.
Passenger demand for the island country of Cyprus has increased during the summer months in the UK. With the heat wave rising in the region, Cyprus seems like the perfect destination for Brits looking to soak in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. This demand led the holiday provider to announce new properties to its portfolio.
In the coastal city of Paphos, Olympic Holidays added four properties.
The Pyramos Hotel is strategically placed in the city centre as a great base from which guests can explore the historical city, while the Basilica Hotel is located within the fishing harbour and the nearest beach. Paphos offers a wide selection of restaurants, shops, and bars which exude traditional Cypriot and Mediterranean charm.
In addition, Olympic Holidays will be offering the Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos throughout the winter season. This all-inclusive luxury resort provides tailored and dedicated accommodation, facilities and services, and is located in Kato Paphos, right in front of the Blue Flag beach. A wide choice of local and ethnic dining options, activities and entertainment are available as well as themed pools for all ages.
New 5-star Amavi Hotel Amavi HotelAnother addition to the portfolio is the brand new 5-star Amavi Hotel, the first custom-designed, couples-only hotel which is set to open in February 2019. Overlooking a medieval castle and an old harbour, the intimate environment provides access to the beach, tropical gardens, and spa treatments including the use of an outdoor spa-type pool, sauna, steam bath and treatment rooms.
Furthermore, Olympic Holidays will be offering a selection of villas for the winter season, designed for groups of friends or family looking for some winter sun, Christmas and New Year celebrations.
A GBP 150 (USD 190) discount is available to guests entering the code SALE150 when booking holidays over GBP 1,000.

Here is why Amadeus bought TravelClick

Posted by - August 16, 2018

Global Distribution System company Amadeus described its acquisition of TravelClick as an important milestone for its hospitality business. The former believed that buying the latter will fuel its expansion and strengthen its hold of the sector.
Amadeus bought TravelClick, “New York-based revenue-enhancing technology to the hotel industry”, for USD 1.52 billion ending the guessing game ever since rumours leaked that talks were ongoing.
In a media briefing, Amadeus confirmed that the deal will be finalised in Q4 2018 subject to regulatory approvals.
“CRS and GMS for the independent/mid-chain hotel segment”
Francisco Perez-Lazao, Amadeus senior vice president for strategic growth businesses, said: “Today we (Amadeus Hospitality) mainly address the top-end of the market with a CRS, PMS (Property Management Systems), sales and catering solutions, and service optimisation and payments.
“TravelClick is a strong fit. On the one side, it brings a complementary hospitality solutions portfolio, including a CRS and GMS (Guest Management System) for the independent/mid-chain hotel segment, and a leading and modern hotel business intelligence and media solutions platform.
“Very importantly, TravelClick also brings brand recognition, a broad customer base and customer knowledge, and a strong team of experts in the hospitality industry.”
Double-digit growth Upon acquiring TravelClick, Amadeus is eyeing a “double-digit growth”. TravelClick could the keystone in the bridge becoming an “end-to-end IT solutions provider of reference to the hospitality industry”.
Since the debut of Amadeus Hospitality Suite, Amadeus has been building its arsenal through organic growth and major acquisitions. In 2015, Amadeus acquired Itesso and hotelSystemsPro. As predicted, TravelClick fills in the gaps in Amadeus Hospitality suite that provides inventory management, distribution, and pricing. TravelClick’s software is used by hotels for business analytics, reservations, guest management and marketing, according to its website.
Moreover, the acquisition expands the reach of Amadeus in the vast market of the hospitality industry. Now, Amadeus can now serve the entire industry, including the mid-chain and independent hotel segment – that the company has barely touched – yet will prove crucial for its growth in the years ahead.
TravelClick said in a press release that it serves more than 25,000 customers across 176 countries, including hotel chains including the Hilton, Marriott, Langham, Mandarin Oriental, Radisson and Accor brands.
Bolstered hotel strategy TravelClick reinforced the Amadeus Hospitality Suite and can now compete with its rivals Oracle Hospitality, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and other regional players, which offer branding and hospitality solutions to independent hotels.
Analysts and experts couldn’t agree more. The major impact of such acquisitions will be on the single solution technology providers.
In a nutshell, TravelClick will be integrated into Amadeus Hospitality to: Accelerate Amadeus’s hospitality strategy Bring revenue from new customer segments and product categories Support strategic growth businesses’ double-digit growth in the mid-term TravelClick CEO Larry Kutscher said he was pleased with the acquisition and claimed that it is the next phase of the company’s journey. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team or more excited about the impact our combined companies will have on the hospitality industry as we begin to deliver the next generation of innovation for hoteliers,” he said.
“Hotels of all shapes and sizes across the world”
Luis Maroto, president and CEO of Amadeus, concluded: “Our ambition is to provide the hospitality industry with the tools they need to grow their businesses and deliver a great experience to their guests. The combination of our two portfolios will allow us to provide that to hotels of all shapes and sizes across the world.”

Business travellers turn to shared accommodation with ‘Airbnb for Work’

Posted by - August 16, 2018

Airbnb has reported a sizable increase in bookings via its corporate travel platform proving that companies are turning to shared homes for business trip accommodation.
In the span of year, the company touted that Airbnb for Work bookings tripled and more than 700,000 companies have signed up and are using the platform to manage their accommodations. About 275,000 of those companies directly engage with Airbnb to manage their travel.
“18,000 new companies sign on per month”
“Business travel is a significant growth driver for Airbnb and more than 10% of trips on Airbnb are for work. In 2016, the number of business trips on Airbnb tripled with more than 250,000 companies using Airbnb for business travel and 18,000 new companies sign on per month,” Alvan Yong, regional lead of Airbnb for Work in APAC and EMEA, told me in an exclusive interview.
“Airbnb for Work makes it easier to travel for work without sacrificing the comforts of home, with features like WiFi, workstations and all the essentials for business travel. Business travellers are now incentivised to stay the weekend exploring local neighbourhoods as shown by an increase in nights booked (average of six nights versus four nights) where more than 50% of extended stays included a Saturday night,” Yong added.
The homesharing company also saw interesting trends in how people conduct their business travel.
Bleisure Corporate travellers tend to extend their business trips for leisure. Often extending their trips on weekends to explore the cities they’re travelling to. More than 30% of Airbnb for Work bookings in the past year include at least one weekend night.
Shorter stays The average stay in Airbnb for Work is about five days, but corporate travellers are opting for shorter stays, which they may have booked hotels for in the past.
Travel in packs Almost 60% of Airbnb for Work bookings last year had more than one guest, and 40% of them had three or more guests. Teams are travelling together to bond and collaborate.
Mobility Airbnb sees extended stays and relocations being booked on Airbnb for many different reasons and lengths of time – ranging from long business trips or training sessions that require several weeks away, to on-site projects that can last several months to a year.
In the past year alone, stays of 14 days or longer with Airbnb for Work have grown nearly three times.
Globetrotters San FranciscoIn the past year, the top-10 Airbnb for Work destinations were:
London Paris Los Angeles New York South Bay, CA (Silicon Valley) Toronto San Francisco Boston Sydney Washington, D.C. Airbnb launched the corporate segment of the platform in 2014 dubbed as Airbnb for Business. The company rebranded the business as Airbnb for Work to better encompass the unique benefits only Airbnb can offer today’s modern workforce.
The sharing platform provides economic solutions to companies who are looking for a cheaper alternative when it comes to accommodations. Moreover, it appeal to a workforce looking for flexible travel policies.
“A lot of compression about having more choice and more options”
“Business travel costs on the lodging side continue to increase typically about 4 to 6% globally every year on average. If you look at major urban markets where there is a lot of compression about having more choice and more options, travel managers and companies are coming to us and saying it’s getting increasingly hard to keep costs down,” David Holyoke, Airbnb for Work’s global head, said.
However, there are still some valid concerns haunting the sharing economy, especially when it comes to safety. Airbnb for Work continues to improve its safety net.
“Our community’s safety, both online and offline, is our priority…As a technology-driven company, to help prevent bad actors from ever accessing our platform in the first place, we use machine learning and predictive analytics to deter suspicious activity. Some of our existing measures include our global customer support team standing by to help 24/7, secure payments, on-platform messaging, online profiles, reviews and more,” Yong said in our interview.

USD 65 million Karbala Oasis to become retail centrepiece of Iraq

Posted by - August 16, 2018

Karbala OasisAccording to data from BMI Research, a provider of global market analysis, the Iraqi economy is projected to expand 1.5% this year before picking up in 2019 with an estimated growth of 4.5%. Reconstruction efforts will boost spending on infrastructure in the years ahead, stimulating Iraq’s non-oil economy and enhancing consumer spending.
At the Smart Stores Expo trade show happening in September, Karbala Oasis is set to showcase its more than 222,000 sqm of total build area and more than 71,000 sqm of leasable area to premium brands looking to capitalise on Iraq’s improving economy.
“compelling new landmark for shoppers in this region”
“Karbala Oasis is a catalytic project in Iraq that promises an enormous breakthrough in the revitalisation of the country’s economy. It is about to emerge as a compelling new landmark for shoppers in this region and from across the globe. Keeping in mind the bright future ahead for Iraq, its oil wealth and young population with increasing spending power; Karbala Oasis is indeed an interesting venue where retail players should establish their presence,” said Jayaraman Nair, chairman, VIS Exhibitions and Conferences.
Located 56 miles from Baghdad, Karbala City is one of the most strategically important cities in Iraq. With this status, Karbala Oasis has the potential to become the retail centrepiece of the city with its blend of commercial, entertainment and tourism attractions.
Nair added: “We are proud to play an integral role in shaping this new retail development and we look forward to forming strategic partnerships with other mall developers and property firms. Smart Stores Expo is the definitive platform for your space to be discovered by top local and international retailers.”
Karbala Oasis is a USD 65 million project that includes the construction of a four-level shopping mall featuring five main areas: Shopping Oasis, Food Oasis, Fun Oasis, History Oasis and Residence Oasis. Furthermore, the property will offer a 12-storey 5-star hotel with 12 suites and 98 rooms.

SkiJapan.com adds Square Hotel to ski portfolio in Hakuba Valley

Posted by - August 16, 2018

Australian snow holiday company, SkiJapan.com, has acquired the Square Hotel to transform it into its base of operations in the Hakuba Valley, Japan.
For the past 20 years, SkiJapan.com has specialised in Japan’s best ski resorts. The company has offices in Sydney, Hong Kong, Niseko, and now to expand its base of operations, it has purchased the two-and-a-half starred Square Hotel.
“We are very excited to announce the opening of our new hotel complex and expand our base of operations into the Hakuba Valley,” said Belinda White, SkiJapan.com’s general manager.
Hakuba is one of Japan’s largest alpine resort areas, consisting of 11 ski accommodations for different levels of skiers, from novice to experts. In 1998, the valley became famous for hosting the Winter Olympic Games.
The Square Hotel will be rebranded as Hakuba Gateway Hotel and is currently undergoing renovation as an affordable ski accommodation that caters to Australian snow enthusiasts. It’s right in the centre of Happo Village and the Hakuba Resort area, a short walk from the Nakiyama Chairlift. The hotel offers Western-style rooms with kitchenettes, onsite services, rental and retail shops, and views of the ski mountains.
Hakuba Gateway Hotel is close to Happo-One Snow Resort’s 21 lifts (including a gondola), numerous restaurants, resort shuttles and public buses. The hotel will also feature a rental/retail shop, restaurant, as well as a SkiJapan.com guest services desk and ground transport.
Five nights’ accommodation in a Western Twin Share with Ensuite Room costs JPY 42,750 (USD 386) per person on twin sharing including breakfast. While a seven-night option for the same, costs JPY 59,850 per person on twin sharing including breakfast.
To celebrate its launch, SkiJapan.com is offering Gateway Early Bird Special rates if booked before 31 August 2018. Guests will be rewarded with 10% off the standard nightly room rate (with breakfast included), plus a free onsen pass per guest and 10% off food and beverages at the nearby Hakuba Goryukan Hotel.

India’s Vivanta hotel heads to Heathrow

Posted by - August 15, 2018

India’s largest hospitality company, Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), will open a Vivanta hotel at Heathrow Airport in London in partnership with Hayre Group Limited. A significant milestone for IHCL and the Vivanta brand, this hotel will cater to the upscale segment of business and leisure travellers.
The new Vivanta hotel is a Greenfield project slated to open in 2021, located across from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Heathrow Airport. The hotel will have approximately 108 rooms, an all-day-diner, a bar and lounge, gym as well as banqueting and meeting space facilities. Additionally, the hotel will house the fourth outpost of the legendary restaurant, Bombay Brasserie, famed for its authentic, eclectic Bombay and Indian cuisine.
Incorporated by the founder of the Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata, the Company opened its first hotel – the Taj Mahal Palace – in Bombay in 1903. IHCL operates 170 hotels including 25 under development globally across four continents, 12 countries and in over 80 locations. It is among South Asia’s largest Indian hospitality company by market capitalisation.
“The first Indian hospitality company to foray into the UK”
Commenting on the agreement, Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO, IHCL said: “IHCL was the first Indian hospitality company to foray into the UK with the iconic St. James’ Court hotel in 1982. Today, we are proud to partner with Hayre Group Limited in bringing the first Vivanta branded hotel to London. This signing is in line with our growth strategy of adding hotels in key locations globally.”
Talwinder Hayre, director, Hayre Group Limited, added: “We are delighted to partner with IHCL in introducing the Vivanta brand to the UK market. We look forward to bringing the legendary Indian hospitality to London Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world.”
IHCL also operates the St. James’ Court hotel, A Taj Hotel, and the Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, in London, located footsteps from Buckingham Palace.

Review: Hilton’s Luxury Experiences platform

Posted by - August 15, 2018

Late in July, Hilton launched a new platform, dedicated to offering bespoke experiences across its luxury brands – and it has something to do with the human senses. On the webpage, experiences are filtered by the senses, with an aim of giving guests a unique access to the local feel of the surrounding environment. Naturally, this has aroused our curiosity and so went ahead and checked what it’s all about.
About the platform First off, the platform is dedicated only to its luxury brands, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotel & Resorts. It promises unique experiences such as seeing the world’s largest private collection of Louis Vuitton suitcases in Amsterdam, to booking seats at the Chef’s Table at Gordon Ramsay au Trianon restaurant.
The luxury experiences platform lets guests choose from 26 authentic cultural experiences and adventures in destinations all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“Diverse experiences and undiscovered gems”
Dominique Piquemal, VP, luxury operations, EMEA at Hilton, said: “Now more than ever, luxury consumers are looking for unique experiences and unparalleled access. Our newly launched Luxury Experiences platform enables guests to browse the breadth of diverse experiences and undiscovered gems, available exclusively through our Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties, offering exceptional experiences, every hotel, every guest, every time.”
The interface Enter the website, and you’ll immediately see a dramatic video (below), showing what the brand has to offer. Scroll down, and you’ll find tick boxes of the five senses including touch, taste, smell, sight and hear. Ticking the boxes would filter the experiences by the ‘sense’ you choose to explore. The interface then lets you see the filtered experiences, or you can also view them all as a gallery.
For example, when you click on the ‘smell’ tick box, the platform will show you experiences like a three-hour wine tour of the Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate while staying at the Conrad Algarve Resort in Portugal. Click on the specific experience, and the platform shows how to book, what to expect during the trip, and details about the hotel including a location map:
Conclusion The platform is simple to use and offers non-traditional itineraries. As a traveller, this would convince me to book, knowing I’ll be hitting two birds with one stone; getting a nice luxury hotel and an instagrammable itinerary to match.
Moreover, if I were to stay someplace unfamiliar, I’d love my itinerary to be taken care of by the hotel while I’m still in the planning stage of my trip. And Hilton does that through the platform. Although not a full-blown website, the ‘sense filter’ idea has potential and I wouldn’t be surprised if other brands caught up to it.
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Zostel CEO: “We noticed a lack of hygienic, fun, safe and affordable options for ​millennial travellers”

Posted by - August 14, 2018

​The first hostel chain of India started out in Jodhpur in August 2013 and now has close to 30 Zostels across the length and bre​a​dth of India and Nepal. Started by friends from IIM Calcutta and IIT BHU who got together while most of them were still in B-School, Zostel is responsible for ​shap​ing​ not just the brand but the entire backpacker hostel market in India and Nepal.
They participated in 14 B-plan competitions in India and abroad including Wharton India Economic Forum, Richard Ivey, Eureka IIT-Bombay etc and ended up winning all of them. Thus gaining a lot of confidence, publicity as well as their first investor – Presha Paragash. I discussed the journey to creating India’s most millennial-friendly hospitality brand with Zostel India CEO, Akhil Malik:
TD: How did it all start?
AM: We started Zostel while we were still in college (IIM Calcutta) in 2013 with a vision to inspire Indians to travel more. We came across this concept on our exchange programmes to Europe and we loved it. Returning to India we noticed a lack of hygienic, fun, safe and affordable options for ​millennial travellers and that was the major factor that led us to start the first hostel chain of India.
We are happy to see that in such a short span of time, the concept has picked up really well in the Indian market as now there are more than 500 hostels in India.​ ​As a traveller, you no longer have just the two options that you used to have five years back, stay in an expensive property​​ ​in a a very formal setting watching TV in your room and paying a bomb ​or opt for dingy, unhygienic guesthouses.
TD: In your own words, what is Zostel’s brand positioning?
AM: ​Zostel is a cool, safe, affordable and fun hangout place for the new age, tech-savy millennial backpackers. Our target customer broadly is someone between 18-35 years of age, well educated, often a young professional or fresh college graduate who is looking for a social, fun way to explore a destination with like minded people.​
​The vision of Zostel is ​to inspire people, especially Indians, to travel. We do this by creating cool, instagrammable hostel spaces marked by their social, casual setting wherein one can meet like-minded travellers from around the globe, to make new friends, share stories, engage in crazy activities and games and explore the area together in a fun, responsible way.
“A cooperative… we brought together the local micro-entrepreneurs”
TD: It was high time India got a reputable hostel chain; how is Zostel unique from others in Asia?
AM: ​What makes us different from others in Asia or probably in the world is that we don’t see Zostel as a company. We are more of a cooperative, wherein we have brought together the local micro-entrepreneurs, educated them about the ​hostel concept and worked with them to ensure that no matter where you stay with us, you get the same quality and hospitality – with of course, the local flavour.
The approach of working with handpicked local micro-entrepreneurs is the sole reason why we have been able to maintain the quality and at the same time open new areas for travelers to explore (Spiti, Chitkul etc.) in a very socially as well as environment friendly way.​
This approach allows us to be seen as a company that is non-invasive to local community and rather empowers the locals to ​take control of their backyard while generating local employment.
​TD: What challenges have you faced – especially with a franchise model?
AM: Since we were starting an entirely new concept on the Indian mainland, there was no precedent for us to learn from. Being a capital intensive business we had to invest a good amount of money to start our initial seven Zostels and to prove the feasibility of the concept in India. ​
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Additionally, being a brick and mortar business, one has to always been on their toes while dealing with local authorities, government departments and property owners, along with of course ensuring an awesome experience to our guests across multiple touch points – a characteristic of hospitality that makes it so challenging.
AM: ​As with any franchise concern – the biggest issue is of control. One needs to have sufficient bargaining power to be able to ensure that your brand isn’t getting hurt as you expand through franchise model. Extremely strong branding helps us here as we are able to give over 50% of the business to our franchise partners directly through our own channels.
“Our selection rate is not even 0.5% when it comes to choosing our partners”
AM: Zostel has followed a very measured approach here since the very beginning. We get more than 10 franchise requests on a daily basis but we are very choosy. Our selection rate is not even 0.5% when it comes to choosing our partners.
It’s imperative for us to ensure that whosoever joins this Zostel family, joins it for the right reason – that is, being genuinely interested in the concept and being willing to ​offer his/her personal time to ensure that Zostel remains the most preferred choice of any backpacker. We take someone along only and only when they are aligned with our vision.
TD: What would you say is the Zostel DNA?
​AM: ‘LiveIt’ Now is our motto and we truly live by it. We try our best to ensure that the entire Zostel team – right from the central team to franchise partners to the hostel staff, stay happy and enjoy what they are doing today. Living in the moment and responsibly exploring the world around us is the least “a tiny speck” can do in this vast universe.
TD: What are the best and worst aspects of the travel industry in your opinion?
AM: ​India is huge and largely untapped as far as the tourism potential is concerned. No sector is as well positioned to reduce migration and to generate local employment across the spectrum as tourism​. However, one has to be really cautious as one works towards bringing the unexplored areas to the fore. Tourism has to be promoted in a very responsible and sensitive manner taking the local community along by educating them about the correct way of ensuring sustainable, environment friendly tourism.
​But the regulatory environment in India is very tedious and business unfriendly. One has to ​wade through numerous approvals with multiple agencies which work independently and with very little urgency. For new concepts such as ours, there is no policy in place and there is no authority with whom we can work to draft guidelines and simplify the process.
In countries such as Australia, Thailand and many European countries – one can get a hostel licence within a week while in India, we still don’t get the concept of backpacker hostels.
“Millennials…. demand authentic, local, experiences at affordable prices”
TD: What has changed the most during your time in the travel industry? How do you and your company stay ahead of the curve?
AM: Hospitality sector is set to witness a major reshuffle globally and especially in India. Millennials – the biggest segment of travellers these days with humongous spending power – demand authentic, local, experiences at affordable prices – something the industry is gradually coming to terms with.
Even the biggies of the sector are coming up with concepts tailored for this segment – Jo & Joe (Accor), Moxy (Marriott) and Tru (Hilton) are some of the examples.
​Zostel has a very strong brand and a very active community of Zostelers. ​We keep our ear to the ground to understand the lacunae and new demands from our guests. Another factor that helps us is the fact that we are a very small, closeknit team – wherein each one of us is a traveller. It helps to be working on a problem that you yourself face as a millennial traveler.