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Indian Hotel Companies Seeking Greater Number of Expat
Professionals to Compete Against International Hotels

By Sobia Khan and Anuradha Himatsingka, The Economic Times, IndiaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 03, 2011--BANGALORE and KOLKATA: The Indian hospitality sector is starting to attract a much larger number of expat professionals than ever before, lured by the opportunity in the growing market here. India is expected to add about 100,000 rooms over the next five years across all segments.

Today, domestic hotels are competing against international hotels and are looking to expand their presence because of shortage of rooms in the country, said Anupama Jaiswal, senior associate, HVS Executive Search, which helps hotels recruit staff.

Take, for instance, Anirban Sengupta who joined as director, sales and marketing, for Accor's upscale business hotel Pullman in India. Sengupta, who was associated with Kempinski in Thailand decided to be part of the growing hospitality in India after the global recession.

Similarly, Australian Bella Ramaswamy, who has worked in Muscat, New Zealand and Bangkok earlier, joined Ambience Group in Delhi as president of its hotel division. IHHR Hospitality, which runs Ista Hotels and Ananda, roped in British national Nigel Grocock as COO of Ananda.

Royal Plaza in Delhi hired Alen Leflon as general manager. Movenpick Hotels and Resorts brought in Garry Morand from Kuwait as the general manager for its maiden property in Bangalore. This inflow of international talent is expected to gain momentum over the next threefour years as the influx of international hotels brands increases, says Rajesh Chauhan, vice president, human resources at IHHR Hospitality.

Indian hotel companies that need to effectively compete and differentiate are also looking at attracting such talent. Apart from a number of international corporate travellers, India is also starting to attract a larger number of foreign travellers. An expat professional's familiarisation with international services according to brand standards is another reason why hotel chains seek their expertise. Implementation of these brand standards is easier with expats, says Shreenath Shastry, regional director, south at Knight Frank India.

There is a shortage of talent in the Indian industry today, which is a major reason why companies have had to look outside. With the hospitality industry booming in India, demand for skilled and trained talent has increased drastically. The industry is not being able to meet this demand. Neither is it being able to keep pace with the growth trajectory.

So, hoteliers seem to be soliciting expat talent, says Sabina Shahabudin, regional director human resources (South Asia), Starwood Asia pacific Hotels and Resorts. Indians, who have worked abroad, are also being tapped since they will bring in global as well as a local perspective.

Most hotel chains, if not all, employ expats because of their international experience and exposure, creativity and innovative thinking in certain specialised fields like culinary and spa. We also find that this helps in developing cultural sensitisation for our local employees, thereby enhancing their emotional intelligence, Shahabudin added.

Hiring of expats is more conspicuous in four- and five-star hotels as it is in these segments that a hotel needs to differentiate itself from its peers. Customer expectations are higher from these categories of hotels, said Chauhan of IHHR. Over the years, the difference in salaries between an expat and that of an Indian employee of the same rank has been slowly blurring. The remuneration now depends on the location and hotel one is working for.


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Copyright (c) 2011, The Economic Times, India

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