Meetings and incentive travel specialists Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) is planning to move into the India market in the next 12 months, according to chief sales officer Mark Sergot. And the 250-strong hotel collection also plans to open in the China market in the same time frame.
Sergot said: “I think India is overlooked a lot by brands and my experience is that there is a tremendous MICE market. It’s a maturing market and once you get in there, it’s very productive. But like any emerging market it requires a real understanding of the business culture and the people. How do we work with that market? It’s not very different from the way the Japanese market was many years ago. We had to approach it in a certain way and we learned and adapted to it. Our hotels have to be ready for the different requirements for the F&B department and the sales approach has to be different, too. We need to put in Indian people who will understand how it works and they have to be able to take on that responsibility.”
Chief sales officer Mark Sergot, like Gorgon, was previously with Fairmont Hotels and brings a rich experience of the luxury end of the market to the project. ALHI’s portfolio is comprised of primarily independent luxury hotels and resorts and emerging luxury brands, offering four and five-star service for meetings and events.
Sergot believes clients at the luxury end of the market are increasingly demanding a more individual sales service than the big chains can offer. He said: “We want to help the smaller properties win. Our member hotels want to differentiate themselves from the big brands and deliver personal service. I have only been staying in these hotels for the past 120 days since I joined and I am amazed by what they deliver and the way they deliver authentic services and product. We need to help them compete against the ‘big guys’ as a global sales force of independent hotels.”
ALHI has a sales force of 38 people selling meetings and incentives in the USA.