‘Travelers now prefer staying for longer and travelling to several destinations on their visits’ : Timo Gruenert, Chief Executive Officer, Oetker Collection
Oetker Collection, the luxury brand behind legendary hotels such as Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Le Bristol Paris, Brenners Park Hotel & Spa Baden-Baden, Eden Rock – St. Barths, and more is seeing a doubling of revenues from the Indian market. According to 2022 data, nearly half (46%) of the Indian guests received at the Oetker Collection hotels booked suites – a high percentage compared to other markets. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Timo Gruenert, Chief Executive Officer of Oetker Collection to understand their plans for the growing Indian market.
As per the statistics, in the past 5 years (which include two years of pandemic slowdown) Oetker Collection saw doubling of revenues from the Indian market. According to you, what were the factors that doubled the revenue of the brand from the Indian market?
I would say that it is in large part due to the fact that Indian guests book suites at our hotels – over half the bookings from this market opt for suites.
With that, many of our guests from India tend to travel with other family members or friends so the party may book two suites or more during their visit.
Additionally, we have been fortunate to have a number of private events booked at our properties, including weddings at Chateau Saint Martin and we also had our first Indian wedding at Le Bristol Paris in recent months. Our latest hotel, The Woodward in Geneva is also popular for smaller-scale exclusive gatherings.
In the new normal are you witnessing any changes in consumer behaviour especially when it comes to Indian tourists? According to you, what are the reasons behind these changes?
I would say travellers are staying for longer and travelling to several destinations on their visits – we are seeing this, especially with American, Australian and Indian guests. I would imagine this is because after periods of such restrictions, people are looking to maximize the time spent with loved ones to enjoy extraordinary experiences and create memories and there may also be an element of making up for the lost time.
We are also seeing two extremes – guests wishing to book far in advance and then we are also seeing guests the world overbooking at the last minute.
The new way of working is no doubt also a factor – there is certainly more flexibility to work remotely than ever before which encourages travel.
Which are your properties/destinations that are most booked and preferred by Indian travellers?
The most visited properties from the Indian market are The Lanesborough, London, Le Bristol Paris, Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, The Woodward in Geneva and we also see a high quantity of guests at Chateau Saint-Martin & Spa in the South of France.
What are your plans and expectations from the Indian market?
We are excited by the opportunity in the Indian market and these are very valued guests of ours. We feel that there is much appreciation for what we offer; Masterpiece Hotels. We would like that more guests from the Indian market familiarize themselves with our collection and that their trip to Europe entails stays at more than one property of our collection. This could mean a few days in London at The Lanesborough and then onto Paris and a stay at Le Bristol before a break in the South of France at Chateau Saint Martin or perhaps The Woodward in Geneva.
Overall, I would say it’s very important for us to continue to educate our valued guests – not just in India but everywhere- on all the properties within Oetker Collection as we are not in the business of trying to ‘create’ destinations – we only open hotels in the locations that we know our guests frequent.
Which Indian geo-locations are you planning to penetrate to get more footfalls?
Currently, our main markets are Mumbai followed by Delhi and I would say Hyderabad and Bangalore are growing markets for us. We will be exploring other opportunities in secondary cities with key agencies.
What are your future plans and strategies to target the Indian market?
We plan to increase our presence in the market with a higher volume of sales visits and participation in travel conferences – we were the first luxury hospitality company to revisit India after restrictions were lifted – and to continue to strengthen our relationships with travel agency partners and wedding/event planners. Next year, we also look forward to participating in ILTM APAC.
We will be undertaking more press and fam trips to promote and share our Collection directly- it’s important that these groups can speak from the heart about our offerings by experiencing them.
We also engage a great PR agency who not only assists us in creating visibility in the market but also supports on KOL connections. Social media as we know is crucial, as are peer-to-peer recommendations.
We also plan to raise our brand profile by organizing small direct client events and will also partner with like-minded luxury brands to create high-touch experiences together that will resonate with our shared audience.