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No-frills chic, Indian style

Travel & Tourism

Back in 2004, wrote about IndiOne, a pilot for no-frills chic hotels in India. Now, the IndiOne in Bangalore has been renamed Ginger, and an ambitious roll-out for the new brand has been unveiled. While India’s economic growth has fuelled the arrival of a number of low-cost airlines, and domestic travel has been increasing at double digit rates, the country’s hotel industry hasn’t been keeping up. Most Indian hotels are either too expensive for domestic travelers, or lack the amenities that modern travelers have come to expect. Rooms at Indian Hotels Company‘s Ginger hotels, however, are priced at Rs 1,000 (EUR 18.70 / USD 22.50), well below mid-range hotels. The no-frills part means that guests wheel in their own luggage and use self-service check in. A touch of chic is added through fresh design, and spaces that allow guests to work comfortably, with ‘Smart Basics’ features like hotel-wide wireless internet access and 100% power back-up. After Bangalore and an opening in Haridwar (a northern Indian pilgrimage city) last week, IHC plans to open a Ginger hotel every six weeks until the end of 2006, speeding up to 15-20 a year over the next three to five years. The budget hotels will be located in IT parks, near transportation hubs and in the vicinity of pilgrimage areas. Each hotel is expected to recover its costs in four to six years. If you’re in the hospitality industry: this field is still surprisingly wide open. Hundreds of millions of first-time, budget travelers from BRIC nations will crowd the world’s tourist and business for years to come, eager to snap up good-value hotel rooms. Equally lucrative: the tens of millions of seasoned travelers from mature, design conscious consumer societies now traveling almost monthly, alternating between low cost trips and luxury outings. Time to buy up a few old hotels (or office buildings), and redo them no-frills chic style? Time to partner with the Gingers and Yotels of this world and not only supply them with what you have to offer, but let their happening brands rub off on yours? (And, if you’re a non-Indian business, gain a foothold in the world’s fourth biggest and most exciting economy?) Outside India, and across industries, learn from companies as diverse as Target, JetBlue and Zara on how to deliver both chic and low cost goods services to spoiled consumers, beating both your mass class and cheap heaps competitors on the hygienia scale. Truly the kind of stuff that should get entrepreneurial minds going.


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