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The hotel heiress, who had the gumption to break ties with global hospitality brands and rebrand her properties as LaLiT Hotels, in the memory of her late husband, hotelier Lalit Suri, has travelled a long distance to where she is today.
LaLiT Hotels have a presence across the country, annual revenue of $90 million according to Forbes India, and 13 luxurious hotels. The brand’s USP in a market like India, says Dr Suri, is the belief in limitless hospitality. “We define ourselves as traditionally modern, subtly luxurious and distinctly LaLiT. But we are also modern in our approach.” LaLiT believes in developing destinations and not just setting up hotels.
Dr Suri, who has worked across several different departments, says that her approach to hospitality is different from her colleagues. “I did not believe that international brands could teach us hospitality; it is ingrained in our DNA.”
She believes that hoteliers have to evolve to keep up with the pace of change in customer behaviour and demands. “Technology has changed the way people travel. Digitization has allowed instant access to information and through social media; every experience and opinion is in the public domain. At the same time, the definition of service and luxury has changed.” The future of hospitality lies in the mid-segment, she says. “LaLiT has two hotels in this category under the brand—The Lalit Traveller, and will further develop in this segment.” Looking back at her career, Dr Suri believes she has, by and large, achieved success in what she had set out to do. “My disappointments have been in tackling a complicated system, facing multi-levels of bureaucracy during the development and operations of my hotels.”
Dr Suri was named among the ‘25 Most Powerful Women in Business 2011’ by Business Today. She has featured in several of Hotelier India’s annual Power Lists. As Chairperson of FICCI and then as head of the federation’s tourism committee, she is pushing for change in India’s tourism policies to attract more travellers, besides making cheaper finance available to the hotel industry.