Hilton Boss Alan Watts Sets His Sights on India
Alan Watts, Asia-Pacific president of iconic hotel brand Hilton, which turns 100 this month, is bullish on India, Ashish Gupta writes for Fortune. New Zealand-born Watts joined Hilton in January 2018 after a 20-year stint with IHG, where he was chief operating officer for Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Singapore-based Watts is tasked with positioning Hilton’s portfolio of brands as best in class and improving its market share in the Asia-Pacific region. He tells Fortune India he cannot afford to miss the India growth story opportunity this time around.
“The fact that Hilton is doing today what we set out to do 100 years ago is just incredible,” Watts tells the publication. “There are companies that have been around for 100 years but many of them have become conglomerates. Hilton started off as a pure hotel company. A hundred years later, 5600 hotels, 400,000 employees, or the three billion guests served with the same intent that started with Conrad Hilton’s original plan.
“Hilton was the first to put TVs in the guest rooms. We also introduced air-conditioning, mini bars, room service … In product innovation, the group invented piña colada [at the Caribe Hilton] and made the first red velvet cake [at the Waldorf Astoria].
“In India at the moment we are smaller than the competition. In the scheme of things, Hilton has missed one cycle in India. The cycle is coming up again, so it gives us our opportunity to grow. And so, we’ll attack India with the same passion and intention that we have in every other market in the world.
“I would like us to fill key city gaps … we’ve got unfulfilled demand in key cities of India. So, that’s what I would like to see: a signature Hilton, a second one in Mumbai, and a Hilton in Delhi. I think there is opportunity to deploy our most luxurious brand.”
Original article by Ashish Gupta, Fortune, June 9, 2019.
Photo by Hilton.