Hilton doubles down on expansion, manpower investment in APAC

Watts: doubling footprint in India

Hilton is ramping up its manpower and portfolio growth in Asia-Pacific destinations such as India, Myanmar and China.

The group has invested a full suite of staff – from new offices to leadership changes – to build up its base in India, and is planning to make further inroads with the launch of the Conrad brand in Bangalore and Pune, said Alan Watts, president, Asia-Pacific.

Watts: building up a base in India with plans to double footprint in the country

He shared that Hilton plans to double its footprint in the country within the next five years.

Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, said: “We are going into very large business in India. We have 17 hotels open there and an equal amount in the pipeline.

“We’ve made some progress (since previously) we did not have the right relationships or leadership to be successful, but we have both of these right now. Although the economy is really good in India, it’s complicated (to open hotels), so we have to be disciplined and focused.”

In Myanmar, Hilton opened a third property in March this year, and reportedly has two more hotels in the pipeline for Bagan and Inle Lake.

Meanwhile, the group will launch a holistic strategy in China to meet the growing demand from the middle-class market.

Nassetta explained: “The emerging middle class around the world is indisputable. We still have a luxury strategy in China with Waldorf Astoria and Conrad, but the bulk of demand growth will be from the mid-market. We have extended-stay brands like Tru, which is in the US and will likely arrive in this part of the world in the not-too-distant future.”

Midscale brands already available in Asia are Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn. For the luxury market, Hainan and Sanya are soon to welcome a Waldorf Astoria property each, while 11 Conrad sites are now under construction in China.

In South-east Asia, where Hilton derives nearly 40 per cent of revenue from F&B outlets, the hotel giant has launched a training programme for F&B and culinary department staff across 37 hotels.

The F&B Operations Academy will run for seven months each year, and comprises a series of webinars hosted by seasoned F&B practitioners in Hilton, as well as a workshop facilitated by training provider TMI Consultancy.

In its inaugural year, the programme saw participants from six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The F&B Operations Academy workshops will continue to be rolled out across South-east Asia over the course of the year.

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