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Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 15 : 59 PM [IST]

‘We are looking forward to bring Jumeirah’s unique luxury hospitality to Indians in their home market’

With a clear focus on establishing its presence in India through partnerships with players in the hospitality space and dedicated trade activities, Dubai-based Jumeirah Group is all set to tap the luxury travel segment in India. Appointing Blue Square Consultants as their India Representative is one of the steps in this direction. Linda Lewis, Vice President Global Sales Middle East and Asia Pacific, Jumeirah Group, in an interaction with Disha Shah Ghosh sheds lights on their India strategy and hotel expansion plans.

Q. Having appointed Blue Square Consultants as the India Representative for Jumeirah Group, what activities have you planned in the market?
A. India is a key source market into the UAE and one we’re increasingly focusing on now that our Asia Pacific pipeline is firmly established. With this in mind we want to ensure that we are securing all opportunities within India. We are working with Blue Square to ensure we have coverage in the market to secure business from all segments such as leisure, corporate and events including weddings.

Blue Square Consultants handles the India sales focusing mainly on high quality leisure travellers and MICE. They are also responsible for the brand’s India communication programme including content creation, social influencer programmes, media/VIP engagement and event management.

We have planned a list of activities during 2017 including trade shows, webinars, FAMs and marketing associations. Through these associations we aim to grow our portfolio and reach out to the luxury travel segment in India.

Q. Where cities in India are in the pecking order of importance for Jumeirah?
A. At present, our focus cities are Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkata for the first financial year and then we hope to move towards Tier-I and II cities.

Q. Why does Dubai and Jumeirah’s hotels appeal to Indian travellers?
A. A, India has always been a top source market for Dubai; however in recent years, we have noticed an increase in luxury travellers from India to our properties around the world, in particular Dubai, London, Shanghai and the Maldives. These destinations, plus Istanbul, are the top India outbound travel destinations in which Jumeirah has presence. Dubai is a popular destination for Indian travellers and visitor numbers have increased year on year, supported in part by enhanced connectivity through Emirates. Jumeirah recently enhanced its family and luxury appeal with the launch of The Terrace at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and the opening of the new Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel, at Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai has also boosted its family attractions with the opening of Dubai Parks and Resorts which includes Legoland and Bollywood Parks Dubai - the first theme park in the world dedicated to Bollywood.

Q. Any plans to open hotels in India or sign management contracts with existing or upcoming properties?
A. Jumeirah has ambitions to grow its portfolio and establishing a presence in India seems a natural next step for expansion. We are in discussions with a number of owners and developers about opportunities right across India, including Mumbai Goa, Benguluru and New Delhi and are looking forward to bringing Jumeirah’s unique luxury hospitality to the people of India in their home market.

Q. There was a plan to open a Jumeirah in Mumbai, any update on that?
A. Jumeriah Group has signed to operate a hotel in Mumbai, which is still in development.

Q. The term luxury has been redefined in the past few years. In this context, how are you looking at positioning Jumeirah in the Indian market?
A. The definition of luxury travel has evolved over time – it’s all about customised offerings and there has been a shift in values from material to experiential travel. The Indian traveller has turned preferential, chasing authentic experiences that can be shared across social media. No longer are they drawn by pretentious services: they want understated luxury and look for genuine experiences.

The culinary experience is high on their list of special-interest themes, along with arts and culture, off-the-beaten-track destinations, spectacular scenery and nature reserves. The increased money power shows the style with which they travel – be it spending on luxury goods, the mode of local travel or opting for fine dining restaurants.

They may spend lavishly, but they also like to know that they’re spending wisely. Personalised service is of paramount importance to the Indian luxury traveller.

Q. What are the trade activities planned in India to drive sales?
A. The main focus for us is to increase our reach in the travel trade segment, hence will be a part of major trade shows, initiate road shows in key markets, and associate with TMCs for joint events. We are also looking into partnerships with airlines for promotions.
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