Mr. Manav Thadani, the Founder and Chairman of Hotelivate is an accomplished entrepreneur and a passionate hotelier. He leads a team of consultants with over 250 years of collective experience. Manav’s vision is to provide end-to-end solutions to the hospitality sector and Hotelivate is a major step towards it.
Lots of hopes were on the stake when he left HVS along with a team of 42 members and opened Hotelivate. His hard work and leadership qualities paid off. Within 9 months of this gamble with HVS, Hotelivate bloomed in India. Thadani said that Hotelivate will perform better than HVS in terms of services. Hospitality Industry today is witnessing his statement. He implements ideas in business in which he predicts potential which shows his risk-taking quality.
Hotelivate is an investment advisory business but Thadani is planning to lay more stress on leasing space. He thinks that local hotels have brand expansion potential. Thadani has always kept complete transparency in his business. He gives advice to his clients on the basis of data collected after extreme research. It was not easy for him to educate people about the importance of this research. But now the clients in the hospitality industry rely on this data to a large extent.
His vision is to become proactively progressive in offering services and adding value to the business of their clients.
HospiBuz:- The trend of hospitality sector has changed after hotel aggregators have entered the market. Please tell us how these hotel aggregators changed the running and managing of the hotel? How are your clients dealing with the change in the trends?
Manav Thadani:- The hotel aggregators have certainly been a disrupting force, identifying gaps and targeting overlooked segments of the industry. Mostly operating in the budget segment, they have grown the size of the relevant demand base to now include several hotels from the parallelly-operating organized/unbranded segment. These new-age companies are agile, technologically-advanced, and focus on things that really matter to the customer. Most of them convert existing independent hotels, guesthouses and homestays in record time, aiding the scalability of their operating model. However, it surprises me that mainstream hotel brands still do not consider them competition. In fact, OYO Hotels & Homes, a pioneer of the concept back in 2013, is not even an aggregator anymore. In the past five years, it has evolved into a full-scale hospitality company with over 175,000 rooms under franchise agreements, management contracts, leased contracts and self-operated entities in India alone. Weat Hotelivate find these players to be pertinent, and should a client come to us for a feasibility study for a budget-midscale hotel, we would advise them to not ignore the Treebo, OYO, fab hotel or similarly branded properties operating in the neighborhood.
Manav Thadani:- The hotel aggregators have certainly been a disrupting force, identifying gaps and targeting overlooked segments of the industry. Mostly operating in the budget segment, they have grown the size of the relevant demand base to now include several hotels from the parallelly-operating organized/unbranded segment. These new-age companies are agile, technologically-advanced, and focus on things that really matter to the customer. Most of them convert existing independent hotels, guesthouses and homestays in record time, aiding the scalability of their operating model.
However, it surprises me that mainstream hotel brands still do not consider them competition. In fact, OYO Hotels & Homes, a pioneer of the concept back in 2013, is not even an aggregator anymore. In the past five years, it has evolved into a full-scale hospitality company with over 175,000 rooms under franchise agreements, management contracts, leased contracts and self-operated entities in India alone.
Weat Hotelivate find these players to be pertinent, and should a client come to us for a feasibility study for a budget-midscale hotel, we would advise them to not ignore the Treebo, OYO, fab hotel or similarly branded properties operating in the neighborhood.
HospiBuz:- You have clients that have chains of hotels across the global, please tell us the services that you are delivering to a few of your clients?
Manav Thadani:- We offer a comprehensive consulting environment to our clients, rendering services across all phases of a hospitality lifecycle, thereby eliminating the need for several different advisors. Our core services include Strategic Advisory (Feasibility Studies, Valuations, Management Contract Negotiation), Executive Search, Professional Skills Development, Investment Advisory, Asset Management, Revenue Management, and Project Execution Planning and Advisory.
HospiBuz:- Does Hotelivate provide consultancy to only luxurious hotels and presence worldwide or does Hotelivate provide consultancy to stand alone hotels?
Manav Thadani:- We cater to all segments of the industry – economy/budget to upper upscale/luxury. Also, our client base is diverse, ranging from hotel owners and developers (of both independent as well as branded properties), brands and management companies, investors and lenders to public and private hotel, tourism and convention agencies.
HospiBuz:- In the last financial year hotel industry have faced a problem with the new tax regime and regulations? Please tell us how dynamic do you think the hotel industry should be in context to Indian Scenario?
Manav Thadani:-While the introduction of GST (in itself)was welcomed by the industry since it simplifies taxation, the tax slabs are disappointing. Despite a subsequent revision, where tax rates were reduced and brackets modified, the 28% tax slab for hotels with tariffs ofINR7,500 and above still holds, which is much higher than other peer destinations in the Asia Pacific – putting India at a distinct competitive disadvantage. We are hoping for some positive changes on this front in the coming year.
The above, coupled with the demonetization policy (2016) and the liquor-ban (2017), certainly posed some regulatory hurdles for the Indian hotel industry in recent years. But, due the steady growth in demand and tapering new supply, the sector showed resilience, especially the branded hotels.
That being said, the tourism industry, at large,has always been sensitive to economic, social, political and regulatory changes, and hotels are particularly vulnerable due to high capital investments, long gestation periods and cyclical nature of the business.So, till such time that the government recognizes these challenges and significantly improves the ease of doing business in the sector, the hotel industry will need to continue adapting to any regulatory or tax-related changes (detrimental or otherwise) that may come its way.
HospiBuz:- It’s a known fact that India has immense potential, but do you also believe that India lack in infrastructure? In your opinion how do you think Indian Government needs to improve the hotel infrastructure?
Manav Thadani:- India ranks way lower than other nations, globally,in terms of Tourist Service Infrastructure, which includes hotels.The supply of rooms across positioning is still highly inadequate for a county this size, and this can be improved by rationalizing the number of licenses/permits/approvals required to develop and operate hotels, lowering the cost of borrowing, and granting infrastructure status to a wider segment of the industry (currently, only hotels costing more than INR200 crore have been accorded this status). However, there may be good news on this front as the new Niti Ayog document suggest that this be brought down to as low as 1 crore for the infra structure to apply.
HospiBuz:- How difficult it was to launch HVS in a less recognized market? In your opinion, how different is the market in Tier 1 cities as compare to Tier 2 and 3 cities in India?
Manav Thadani:- I introduced HVS in South Asia in 1997. Back then, the region hadn’t yet recognized the need for professional consulting expertise, especially in the hospitality sector.So, it was difficult initially, but as my team and I gradually established ourselves as knowledge leaders in the market, authoring key industry publications, conducting benchmark studies, and hosting premium hospitality conferences, our client base and patrons grew manifold.
Last year when we changed brands to Hotelivate we decided to innovate and moved into social media and more research and in depth based analysis. This has played will and our first years performance speaks to this.
In terms of hotel markets, while Tier-I cities are still the preferred point of entry for many international brands, particularly those in the upscale-luxury segment, Tier-II and Tier-III cities that are a stronghold of the unbranded supply in the country, are gaining popularity in recent years. Developers and operators are beginning to recognize the demand potential in these relatively smaller and nascent markets, and a significant portion of the future supply we are tracking, is coming up here. Improved connectivity, availability of land, lowcost of development (especially land cost), surge in domestic travel, less competition andlow labor costs are some of the attractive characteristics of Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
HospiBuz:- Hotelivate organizes conference like Hotel Investment Conference, Hotel Operation Summit India, etc. What made Hotelivate enter into organizing conference and summits in the area of hotel industry?
Manav Thadani:- Hotel Investment Conference – South Asia (HICSA) will be hosting its 15th edition this year. Hotel Operations Summit India (HOSI) and Tourism, Hotel Investment & Networking Conference (THINC) Indonesiaare both in their 7th year. Moreover, we recently concluded the 3rd edition of THINC Sri Lanka. So, we have been hosting conferences for a long time now, and I have a very capable team ensuring that these events are a success.
I think that to create a business and establish credibility, one needs to build relationships, share knowledge and collaborate on industry matters – what better way to do this than hosting a conference. We spend a lot of time and effort in designing an agenda that offers value for everyone who attends, and over time, these events have bolstered our reputation as the “go-to” team in the region for all things hospitality.
HospiBuz:- How important is the negotiation skills when its comes to the purchasing department of the hotels? Are ventures like Hospilane helping the hotel purchase department to be fast and efficient?
Manav Thadani:- We are not qualified to answer this question.
HospiBuz:- How would you define “luxury” and “comfort” in reference to the hotel industry?
Manav Thadani:- Luxury is subjective – to some it is opulence and grandeur, to another it isdisconnecting from the world in a rustic resort situated in an offbeat location; to some it is highly-attentive service, to another it is unintrusive, privacy.Comfort too is similar – it varies from person to person. That is the reason why there are segments and sub-segments within the hotel industry, and companies come up with a plethora of different brands to cater to each of these, trying to highlight their distinct characteristics. For instance, the target clientele for a chic luxury boutique hotel is different from that of a luxury palace/historic hotel.
HospiBuz:-As you know that Hospitality Lexis is a young and vibrant magazine aiming to be the first hybrid for hotels and its customers? Please tell us what are you looking forward with the hospitality oriented journalism.
Manav Thadani:- I prefer magazine which provides good in-dept based research articles that are credible. Many trade publicatons have articles written by people who have a conflict of interest and are only interested in promoting their corporate brand.
Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!
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