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KB Kachru, the winner of Hotelier India’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, has spent almost four decades in the hospitality industry. He has been instrumental in building Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s business in India since 1998. Before being appointed as the company’s chairman emeritus and principal advisor in South Asia in July 2016, he served as its executive VP and was responsible for its overall strategy, hotel development, management and functional support in key markets.
His career includes an initial stint in the government-run Ashok Group of Hotels. He has considerable experience in the fields of travel and tourism as a proactive member of various committees, including the National Tourism Advisory Committee, and is on the board of directors for the tourism corporation of Jammu & Kashmir, Pondicherry and Madhya Pradesh. He introduced duty-free shopping on arrival at all the international airports in India. Kachru’s vast and varied experience also includes academia — he helped set up the Institute for International Management & Technology in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University, London. But it was at Carlson that Kachru came into his own. The group is betting big on India; it plans to operate 200 hotels by 2020. Right now, it has 100 hotels in operation or under construction. Last year, the group signed a strategic partnership with Gurgaon- based real estate firm Bestech Group to build 49 new Park Inn, Radisson’s mid-market hotels, by 2024. Kachru, who heads a team of 21,000 employees in India, has said that they are scouting for similar partnerships.
Born and brought up in Kashmir, Kachru studied hotel management before moving to Germany on a scholarship. He worked with several hotels in the European country, before moving back to India to work with ITDC. In the early 90s, he quit ITDC and along with his senior, Rajan Jetley, formed a company that worked with Radisson Hotels Asia. He relocated to Singapore and gained experience of several Asian markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and India, understanding their subtle nuances and the differences between them.
In the mid-90s, he headed back to India and helped expand the group’s footprint into not just the metro cities, but several tertiary markets too. Recalling his long career, Kachru has said, “I have been fortunate to have had great mentors and support teams both in ITDC and Radisson. Some of them today are very successful CEOs and head Indian and international hotel groups. My advice to the younger hoteliers is to always stay grounded and accept that change is the only constant.”