Mehul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Signum Hotels & Resorts saw great opportunities to build a business in a field he was most passionate about; ‘Hospitality’. He expanded his horizons beyond his own business interests to nurture a brand with utmost commitment, considering the desires of the discerning guests.
- Tell us about the transition from managing a hotel to managing a group with such a versatile portfolio of hotels?
Managing a diverse portfolio of hotels allows a cross culture understanding of business and best practices being followed in various geographies. It allows you access to the best international standards. Travelling to other countries empowers you with the understanding of different cultures, cuisine and lifestyles. The global perspective, latest technology, the latest measures and tools being used in hospitality. With this understanding, Signum has been successful in building a very robust corporate office setup backed by a strong sales and marketing network.
- Signum has already made its mark with 12 hotels across India, 18 service apartments in various countries? What is the next benchmark you’re looking at and in what time frame?
Signum Hotels aims to manage a minimum of 10 hotels in the US, 5 to 6 in Greece and Israel, 5 to 7 in Eastern Europe, 2 in Sri Lanka, 1 in Dubai, 2 in Canada and about 10 within India in the next 1 year. This is backed by an efficient International setup that we already have in place to accelerate company expansion.
- What is the current trend in India’s hospitality industry and is there any shift in terms of choices? What are the current preferred preferences for Indians and the next ones to be boosted?
The current hospitality trend in India is now shifting/moving into an asset model; a lot of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures can be seen. There is a lot of cohesiveness in terms of brands operating at different levels. The major thrust on domestic tourism is the need of the hour. We can also witness a growing thrust on Food & Beverage options in terms of both takeaways and deliveries. From a customer perspective, short term breaks, leisure travel with a business mix, staycations, weekend stay options will remain in demand. Focus areas would be frequent short beaks at drivable destinations offering both business and leisure options. Leisure destinations offering quality food and beverages and hygienic stays will remain in demand.
- In your opinion, how influencing is the regional factor, giving a local feel based on the region’s taste, preference and culture?
It is extremely important. People are exploring and understanding more about the local flavours. They love to travel more, experiment more, they are more evolved travellers. Health and hygiene remain the topmost priority. Ample options for children and senior citizens are a must when they are travelling with a group. Sustainability is playing a key role as people are getting closer to nature and they wish to experiment with things by themselves in terms of any local activity or experience during their stay at a hotel.
- What has been your top business challenges navigating COVID-19?
Erratic business cycles with multiple lockdowns, different states having different plans for Covid actions and little or no support from local tourism at least to push domestic capping on a number of people visiting a destination, have been your top business challenges. To top this is the high taxation and fewer rebates.
- What according to you are the identified factors that shape up your brand’s appeal in terms of the Indian market?
Ans : We pick up local flavours, we choose key USPs of a particular area and translate as per the choices of the discerning travellers, not only the food but the entire look and feel of the hotel is reviewed while considering the local factors intertwined with the best of global technology. The brand architecture remains robust and solid yet we move as a Global Indian Business Brand.
- Any other info?
Ans : We want to get global tourism under one umbrella. Covid also turned out to be an opportunity in crisis. Hence, Signum expanded its wings outside India and we continue to grow. However, the local entities and the local Government play a very important role in giving infrastructure status to tourism. Although, internationally tourism plays a very important role, we would definitely like to see the same thrust being given by the Government to promote Indian tourism. We have got destinations and resources which can be promoted and it can become a self-sustainable model.