Power List 2017, Kurt Straub, VP, Operations (India), Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
Most hospitality professionals are happy to talk about the need to empower their people. However, it is not often that you meet someone who will emphatically outline their company’s manpower empowerment plans and how it focuses on helping aspirant and experienced personnel. But then again, Kurt Straub has always been one for doing things a tad differently. In this opinion, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts is in the people business – and not the hotel business – and care is at the root of all they do.
“Our purpose is to care for our people so that they can be their best. Training in an important aspect of our work culture and it not only enhances employee skills, but also ensures that the workforce remains informed and dedicated. It helps them absorb the brand, which clearly reflects from their service quality and overall personality,” Straub stated.
After a good 2016 – which included the launch of Hyatt Regency Chandigarh and Andaz Delhi – Hyatt is marching to the beat of a busy 2017. The hotel chain also ‘World of Hyatt’, its new global loyalty program and was recognised as one of the 25 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces. Incidentally, this was the third consecutive time that Hyatt was featured in this list.
Earlier this year, in April, Straub played an instrumental role in the introduction of Hyatt Place Rameswaram, validating the brand’s strategy of spreading the Hyatt Place brand to tier-2 and -3 cities. In the past 35 years, since the company has been present in the country, it has steadily increased its footprint from metro cities to secondary and tertiary destinations, especially under-served areas, and expanding its portfolio to include both full service and select service brands.
“Our intent as a global hospitality company is to grow thoughtfully in locations where our guests are travelling. This growth is naturally influenced by the existing room supply and demand from both the domestic and international segments,” Straub explained.
Since, the chain has six brands in India (Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place and Hyatt), it has the scope to guests a wide range of experiences at different price points. Its future growth strategy in India will take all these factors into account and place the right brand in the relevant destination.
In India, Hyatt currently has 26 operational hotels across 16 cities with over 6500 rooms. Hyatt Place is a large part of its growth strategy in India and after the launch of Hyatt Place Rameswaram, the next two properties under this brand are Hyatt Place Hyderabad and Hyatt Place Bengaluru.
That aside, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty, which is slated to open towards the end of 2017, will mark the company’s foray into Kerala Meanwhile, Hyatt Regency Lucknow, which is set to open in September this year, will increase the brand’s presence in Northern India. “We will continue our expansion into the tier-2 and -3 cities as we move towards attracting new customer segments. We are also looking at venturing into markets such as McLeodganj in the Himalyas, where leisure travellers are a prime component of the tourism industry,” Straub noted.
Aware that the hospitality industry is notorious for lack of a work-life balance, he tries to unwind by catching up on some reading, cooking or travel on those days when he is not at work. Few know that Straub is extremely fond of vintage cars. “I am keen to participate in the Mille Miglia race, where over 350 drivers traverse across 1000 miles from Brescia to Rome whilst passing through some of the most beautiful Italian cities like Rimini, Rome, Ravenna, Siena and Parma,” he hopefully said.
By Vinita Bhatia