Global Hotel Alliance keen to leverage Indian tourism market

Huge opportunity in India due to numbers involved: GHA CEO
/ New Delhi
/ Hotels
Global Hotel Alliance keen to leverage Indian tourism market

Anuraag Bhatnagar (L), Christopher Hartley (R)

Dubai-based network of hotels Global Hotel Alliance or GHA, which is the world's largest alliance of hotel brands, recently organised an interactive session in association with its Indian member the Leela Palace, to explore the Indian landscape’s market potential.
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Keen to tap on the burgeoning potential of the Indian market, which is also attracting global attention, Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), a network of hotels worldwide, organised an interactive session with key professionals of the hospitality industry in India.

The session, organised in New Delhi on Thursday, was led by Christopher Hartley, Chief Executive Officer of GHA, who was present along with his team to share insights on the future ambitions of GHA.

The Global Hotel Alliance brings together a collection of independent hospitality brands for GHA Discovery, a multi-brand loyalty programme. GHA represents a collection of 40 brands with over 800 hotels across 100 countries, of which India also enjoys its fair share. Indian luxury hospitality chain Leela Hotels is one of the founding members of the association.

“The Leela Palace was a partner with Kempinski prior to becoming fully independent and we had a long relationship when I was at Kempinski with the Leela Group from that first hotel in Mumbai to its expansion to further destinations and the big landmarks. Really, the Leela was one of the founding members of the alliance in the early days before we even launched the loyalty programme. So that was back in 2007. And then in 2010, Leela became part of GHA Discovery, which was the first version of our own programme, and that in 2021, we relaunched GHA Discovery and it became Leela Discovery as part of the broader GHA Discovery family,” says Hartley.

“We launched Discovery Dollars, which were then adopted by Leela, as is common currency as well. And today, as Leela continues to grow under new ownership, that was a big change when the family was bought out by Brookfield Asset Management. We have seen Leela continuing to expand, and so the last couple of years have been very positive in that we have seen India market recovering after the pandemic and Leela itself continuing to expand within the country,” adds Hartley.

Regarding India’s assorted travel landscape, Hartley said that Indians plan the most number of trips in the world, which thus presents a huge opportunity because of the numbers involved. “We would need to capture more of that business by having more of a domestic presence, which we don’t have at the moment. So in order to capture more of that potential, we need to have hotels in more destinations at different market segment levels. So not just the luxury price point, but also midscale and upscale hotels. So that’s really the opportunity in order to capture the international businesses presence. We need more hotels domestically in order to have a greater Indian audience for when they start traveling internationally,” says Hartley.

With rising prominence of the outbound Indian travellers on the international tourism stage and proliferating middle class expenses, Hartley says GHA is keen to broaden its partnerships in India, especially with potential partners like Air India. He says that such Indian partnerships could bring in the right kind of synergy and along the right time as more and more Indians are now keen to explore the luxury hospitality experience.

“These Indian market trends, coupled with growing appetite to visit India from GHA Discovery’s 26-million-strong global membership, present immense opportunities for our portfolio of hotels, which not only offer luxury accommodation, but the destination experiences that today’s travellers seek, from adventure, to cuisine, to nature,” says Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Executive Officer, the Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

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