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Monday, 20 November, 2017, 11 : 28 AM [IST]

“India is our fastest growing market”

As global brands are increasingly focusing on tapping the fastest emerging outbound market i.e. India, Marriott International East China is no exception. Ranking India among its top 10 priority markets in the Asia Pacific, the hospitality giant is focusing on engaging with the trade members of tourism industry of India to expand their reach and gain a healthy share of outbound travellers from the Indian market. Michael Malik, Area Vice President, East China, Marriott International, in an interaction with Anurag Tiwari, talks about their penetration strategy in India.

Q How is East China market performing for Marriott International?
This year has been a good year for us. We recorded a RevPar growth of about 8.4%. Talking about the average room occupancy, it has been varying across different cities but our best performing market has been Shanghai where our downtown hotels have recorded around 90% room occupancy. The overall East China market for Marriott International is recording around 80% room occupancy this year with guests spending on an average three to four nights. We receive majority of our guests from the domestic market which contributes around 50 to 60% of our total business. In terms of foreign markets, the US and South East Asia are the top contributing markets for us. About 50% of our business comes from corporate offerings like weddings, catering, etc., 30% comes from MICE while the remaining 20% is from retail business.

Q How much is India contributing for the Marriott International East China?
This is our third year in terms of promotions and exploring business opportunities in the Indian market. As of now Mumbai has been the best performing market for us.

MICE has been the most popular segment among the Indians while the markets like Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Macao and Hong Kong are their favourites. The numbers are not big as of now as these are still the early stages of promoting ourselves into the Indian market, but India is definitely on our priority list as it our fastest growing market. We rank India among the top 10 markets in Asia Pacific.

Q How is Marriott International planning to expand its reach in the Indian market, particular for the Eastern China properties?
For any player in the industry to expand in the Indian market, partnerships with local trade is very critical. We are working towards connecting with important MICE players in the Indian market like SOTC, Thomas Cook and other big and small travel trade proprietors. Marriott International China week in India is also a fruitful way to meet and connect with the Indian travel trade partners. From this year onwards, we have focused on interacting not only with hoteliers but also with members of tourism industry as they are one of the biggest contributors in assisting people to decide where and how to travel. MICE is presently the most popular segment among Indian travellers, but we would also like to see growth in luxury and FIT travellers from India. We also welcome Indian travellers to our property in Hainan Island with its varied offerings for destination weddings.

QWhat are the expansion plans listed for the Marriott International East China?
We already have 300 projects in pipeline. After the recent Marriott- Starwood merger, we are the biggest hotel chain in the world; but our focus is always on improving and innovating our services and remain the top choice for the guests. Marriott International has targeted to promote itself and expand its reach to not so established markets like India and grow the proportion of business from these markets to the level of established markets like the US and Europe. Marriott International ventured into a joint partnership with Alibaba, an e-commerce operator in China, as part of its expansion spree to sell online travel bookings and loyalty programme deals in China and draw more customers from the booming Asian market. Our GDS system has been performing exceptionally and we are looking at strengthening it further.

Q Considering the pace at which the industry is growing and the increasing competition, what are the focus areas of Marriott International East China to outcast competitors?
In the era of digitalisation, its all about visibility across all the distribution channels. We make sure that all of our content on Internet is 100% correct. Be it through the social media platforms or be it through our own web portals, we always try to establish maximum possible connect with our customers. Other point we stress at is educating our partners about our latest developments and establish direct connect with them through our global sales offices. As we are now looking at establishing healthy relationships with the travel trade industry, this direct connect will play a vital role. Today many in the industry through OTAs offer services at discounted prices and not concentrate much on direct selling. Direct selling is our priority as it also offers our loyalty reward members various benefits. Also, we make sure there is a single price structure for our services across all the selling platforms thereby maintaining our brand value in the industry.
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