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AirBnB is not a disruptor enough to make Keys Hotel rethink its strategy: Anshu Sarin, CEO, Berggruen Hotels

23-October-2017
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AirBnB is not a disruptor enough to make Keys Hotel rethink its strategy: Anshu Sarin, CEO, Berggruen Hotels

Keys brand of hotels, a mid-segment range of hotels, has recently undergone a brand makeover. Under the Keys Hotels brand, there are now three new sub-brands: Keys Prima (affordable luxury), Keys Select (mid-market) and Keys Lite (lower end of mid-market). This follows the investment of Rs 200cr from Berggruen Holdings into Keys Hotels focused on the expansion of the chain. CEO of Berggruen Hotels Anshu Sarin said that the repositioning is focussed on making Keys Hotels a market leader. “We are already one of the prominent players in this category and we would like to be market leaders in this category,” she said.

Calling a huge, deep cultural transformation, that touched all aspects of the functioning of the business, Sarin said, “As you move forward in this industry, a product will become a commodity. So when a customer comes in, s/he would like something personalised, unique and creates an emotive connect, drawing you back into the hotel.” And that is how Sarin and her team also decided that a cultural connect with the local flavours should not be restricted to leisure hotels but also business hotels.

Speaking about the entry of AirBnB in the hospitality segment, she said it is not a disruptor enough to make Keys Hotels rethink their entire strategy, yet. But AirBnB has infused a new outlook for the hospitality sector and consumers as a whole. “It is essential because we see the customers emerging needs that we changed our signature and why we moved towards a cultural transformation that we have been working on for the last three years - Your Happy Stays.”

Ashish Khazanchi , Managing Partner at Enormous, who was behind the repositioning project, said that brief that the team received was about generating a certain dynamism in the brand to make the brand resonate with the evolving consumer. The team experienced the product and came up with the concept of Your Happy Stays, which is not just a line but an overall philosophy of the brand now.

Speaking about the reason for splitting the mother brand into three sub-brands Sarin said, “Ten years back we started with a singular brand and then because we realised that there is an opportunity for different rice points for different customers we wanted to spread ourselves over the entire mid-market space. We also realised that there is a huge opportunity for growth and scale in this particular tier and wanted to occupy the entire space.” She added that instead of a singular brand, sub-brands can cater broadly to different markets at a particular price point, making it easy to align the product accordingly. “The idea of having separate sub-brands is that each of it delivers as promised."

Sarin noted that she expects significant growth in the mid-market segment, “The requirement of a mid-market product is now essential pan-India including tier two, tier three cities and metro cities,” she said. Sarin added that one of the main segment of customers for the mid-segment is Small and Medium Enterprises; in south India, this segment constitutes 35-40% of the business.

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