Hilton is poised for significant growth in India, said Zubin Saxena, Senior Vice President and Country Head for the hospitality giant.

In an interview with businessline, Saxena said the company is nearing a major milestone – signing its 50th hotel in regions including India, Kathmandu and Bangladesh – and has ambitious plans for further expansion.

Saxena outlined the company’s expansion strategy targeting the top 10 Indian markets. “Over the next 5-7 years, I believe we can triple our estate to 75 to 100 hotels in the top 10 Indian markets,” Saxena said. “This includes both operational and pipeline hotels. Our existing pipeline is as strong as our current portfolio, and we’re signing deals at a rapid pace.”

Broadening the brand Portfolio

Currently operating with five brands in India, Hilton is set to introduce two new ones: Curio Collection and the luxurious Waldorf Astoria. This expansion caters to a wider range of travellers, offering options from focused service to high-end experiences.

Saxena said, “I see a huge opportunity for Hilton in India to expand across various markets. In the top 10 metro cities, there’s demand for luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria and Conrad. We also have strong potential for our core brands like Hilton, DoubleTree, and Hampton by Hilton, covering the range from luxury to full service and focused service.”

Focus on F&B revenue

Recognising the immense potential of the food and beverage (F&B) segment in India, Saxena said the company aims to increase F&B revenue from 35 to 45 per cent of the company’s overall income. This ambitious target will be achieved by providing innovative and efficient catering solutions, particularly for the ever-popular wedding and conference (MICE) market, he said.

Saxena emphasised that F&B goes beyond just hotel restaurants.

He said he sees significant growth potential in tier 2 and 3 cities, where rising disposable income is fuelling demand for a comprehensive range of food and beverage services, including event catering.

Saxena added, “F&B is a much bigger picture than just hotel restaurants. It encompasses a whole range of food and beverage services, including catering for events like weddings and conferences (MICE, which stands for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions). The Indian market has a huge appetite for F&B, with the total market size estimated to be a whopping ₹1 lakh crore (1 trillion rupees). This presents a significant opportunity for growth, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities where disposable income is rising.”

Optimistic occupancy rates

Saxena predicted that industry-wide occupancy levels will settle comfortably in the high 60s to low 70s. He said anticipates even higher occupancy rates in major metros like Delhi and Mumbai.

“In major markets like Delhi and Mumbai, you’ll see even higher numbers, while some smaller cities might be a bit lower. Overall though, for India as a whole, I’m confident we’ll see strong performance.”

He said expects Hilton’s numbers to be higher than that of the hospitality industry in India itself.