A hospitality veteran, well-known for his accomplishments spanning 30 years, ever since he assumed his new role of Senior Vice President & Country Head, Hilton (India) in January 2018, Navjit Ahluwalia has been focussing on strengthening the operations of Hilton Hotels — currently with 17 hotels in the development cycle, with approximately 3,200 keys.
Hilton is the oldest hospitality company in the world and will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in May 2019. Ahluwalia avers, “Currently in India we do not have a presence that we would ideally like to have. However, this offers a tremendous opportunity for guests and our team members, owners, investors and us. The additional attention and time given to our existing business will augur well for our owners and potential investors as we ramp up our operations, translating into higher returns for our partners and owners.”
Willingness to learn and adaptability are concepts he firmly believes in. He feels, these contribute to his personal growth as well. He says, “30 years in multiple assignments needs a certain amount of resilience and to arrive at where I am today, I believe my contributions have made a significant difference to the industry.”
Under Ahluwalia’s astute leadership, the group is aggressively seeking new opportunities for growth. “We are always looking at the right opportunities to bring more brands to India from our portfolio of 14 brands. All our brands are strong and serve a defined segment of guests across different regions of the world.” Ahluwalia prefers to tread cautiously, “We are currently 17 trading hotels in India and are well on course to double our presence in the next few years. However, our focus in not just on increasing our presence. We believe expansion has to be based on market need, business returns, as well as an opportunity to serve the Hilton guests at the right place with the right brand,” he analyses.
Serving guests with the quintessential warm Hilton hospitality, he feels, is the key and the rest falls into place, including achieving the bottom-line. “To have increasing returns — it needs to begin with serving our guests with the right brand at the given location and opportunity. Every brand has its own distinctions of service — and if it does not meet the requirements such as price point, guest experience, F&B, location, amongst other things, then the property will struggle to provide sustained returns.”According to him, India will offer the greatest growth opportunities as the demographics come of age, giving a new fillip to domestic consumption and taking advantage of rising global travel. The Indian hospitality market, he analyses, is well-poised to become the third largest lodging market in the world in the near future. “Given this trajectory, currently the market has a positive momentum and most brands in this industry are performing well,” Ahluwalia quips.