Power List 2018: Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director and CEO, IHCL

Puneet Chhatwal, who joined IHCL as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, is an industry veteran with more than 30 years of leadership experience at highly-acclaimed hotel groups in Europe and North America.

Prior to his current role, Chhatwal was the Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Executive Board of Steigenberger Hotels AG – Deutsche Hospitality.

He encapsulates, “We have been setting benchmarks since 1903 when we opened India’s finest luxury hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace and today, it is internationally renowned as an iconic hotel and the preferred residence of choice of visiting royalty, dignitaries and famous personalities. From Rajasthan to Goa, Kerala, Hyderabad and recently the Andamans, our rich portfolio of hotels, authentic Palaces, Resorts, Safaris have set new standards in hospitality.”

Chhatwal believes in preparedness, apart from strategic thinking, to stay ahead of the curve. “Our strategy is based on evolving customer insights. We have a portfolio of brands that can address different price points and we focus on a clear brand purpose and value proposition which is what the customers of tomorrow are looking for. We have a good understanding of our current and potential customers. We ensure that we listen to our guests at each customer touchpoint and capture the data. We use data analytics to gather customer insights, which are then used to adapt our products, services and experiences. This helps us to keep pace with the changes in the industry.”

With his insightful and disciplined approach, he is all set to steer the company “to work towards executing Aspiration 2022, our five-year business strategy, building the most iconic and profitable hospitality company. Under the plan, the company will work towards driving our development pipeline to at least 50% of our current room inventory across all brands.”
He further elaborates, “Reimagining our brand scape is key and it will enable IHCL to expand its portfolio across different customer segments with various brands to address different price points. The iconic Taj hotels will continue to operate in the luxury segment in key gateway cities. Vivanta will be the growth driver for tier 2 and 3 cities and operate as upscale hotels for the sophisticated traveller. Ginger will be our lean luxury brand and will have a significant presence in the IHCL portfolio. A new brand called SeleQtions, where each hotel will have a distinctive name, will address the needs and aspirations of the younger customer segments.”

Chhatwal is no stranger to awards and accolades. He has won several including the prestigious Carlson Fellowship and was rated as one of Europe’s 20 extraordinary minds in Sales, Marketing and Technology – HSMAI European Awards 2014.
Not in a mood to slow down, he reveals, “We currently have 170 hotels out of which 25 hotels are in the pipeline. We are looking at adding about 50% to the inventory to increase our operational room count from 17,000 to 25,000 rooms.”

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