Power List 2017, Suresh Kumar, MD, Fortune Park Hotels
Every youth can relate to the thrill of independence when they establish their individual identity, distinct from that of their parent. Of course, this does not come easy; there are struggles along the way, some heartbreaks too. But the results are definitely worth it. Well, one can say that the young-at-heart Suresh Kumar is probably exulting in a similar feeling! Over the past few years, Fortune Park Hotels has established itself as a leading full-service hotel chain in India.
“It has successfully drawn on the strength, resources and talent pool of its parent brand, ITC Hotels, to extend these synergies to a wider audience – all at a very attractive price, thus creating an ‘Affordable Alternative’ for the end user,” he proudly claimed. “It provides the customer a perfect combination of efficient service and great value, thereby creating the distinctive advantage.”
Interestingly, Kumar himself is an ITC Hotels veteran, having joined the company as a management trainee in 1978. In a career spanning three decades, he has held several managerial positions in ITC Welcomgroup’s hotels commencing as general manager in 1987 when he was just 29 years. He soon took over as VP for the Southern Region of ITC Hotels and in 2005, he was appointed VP Operations, ITC Hotels. A year later, he took charge as president, Fortune Park Hotels Limited, the wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Ltd, later becoming the brand’s CEO and is now its MD. He also oversees the WelcomHeritage Hotels division.
One thing that sets Kumar apart is his problem-solving ability and his willingness to call a spade just that. On taking charge of Fortune Park Hotels, he realised the Indian hotel industry traditionally focused on the luxury hotel segment. Gradually, though, the scenario changed and leading domestic and global brands saw emerging opportunities in the mid-market to upscale segment, propelled by an increase in disposable income, enhanced lifestyle and evolved aspirations of guests.
“In the process of creating quality hotel accommodation in a wide choice of destinations, Fortune Hotels emerged as a brand with a reputation of contemporary modern hotels offering quality products and ‘value-led’ services. Its branded restaurants, modern décor, convenient service design and sub-brands that cater to different categories of guests, set it apart from all other chains. Fortune Hotels provides guests with a perfect combination of efficient service and great value, thereby creating the distinctive advantage,” Kumar stated.
Moreoever, he decided to slowly move into tier-2 and -3 towns, which were on a faster growth tajectory. Last year, Kumar orchestrated the launch of four hotels in the company – Fortune Park Sishmo Bhubaneswar, Fortune Miramar Goa, Fortune Resort Heevan Srinagar and Fortune Park BBD Lucknow. What delighted him was not that these hotels opened to good customer response or that they are faring well in their respective markets, but that they have marked the brand’s entry into previously untapped cities and strengthened its presence in Goa.
Currently, the Fortune Hotels brand has 61 signed properties with 4688 rooms spread across 48 cities in India and 46 operational hotels. Over the next six months, properites are due to open in Vadodara, Haridwar, Durgapur and Vellore.
Kumar’s vision for the brand is to unfurl a Fortune at every 180 km by concentrating on metros, mini-metros and smart cities pan-India. In the next few years, he wants the brand to be recognised as a provider of consistent quality products and services, thereby be perceived as the premier ‘value’ brand in the Indian hospitality scenario.
By Vinita Bhatia