Submitted by: James McMillan
Professor Carr Addendum and Intro to James’ Post: This is a post I asked James to make as a follow up to his earlier post, It’s Called Days Inn in China But It’s Nothing Like It, and For Good Reason (see also the comment thread). (Thank you James, for doing so and for taking the time.) As the below shows, we have found that finding a hotel in India that can accommodate a group of our size is a challenge. Rates are very high, which in turns impacts the price you pay for the trip. Moreover, the current hotel market there tends to be very high end (we can’t afford) or very low end (you will not want to stay there), with not much in between to choose from (our challenge to find and compete to get). Step back and think of this — a country of 1.3 billion plus people, with a hotel room supply of roughly only 105,000. My memory is that China has roughly 1.1 million hotel rooms in the country (see below for James’ US figures — roughly 4.4 million; we are a developed economy with money for fun and travel, while China and India are developing economies and emerging markets with much less money). Please be aware of this planning and business issue and constraint, and, business opportunity, as James touches on below. By the way, there are some very good and understandable macro reasons for this hotel market and supply condition in India and my memory is that your Khana book, Billions of Entrepreneurs, also has a nice chapter (Chapter 4 as I remember — “Fiat and Fairness”) re: how and why real estate development projects can be a challenge to launch, complete and make any money on in India. Be sure to read and think of this post and business environment issue as you read that chapter and as we travel in India and China. Also keep in mind that one (not the only) reason China has more rooms is that it has boatloads of peasants looking for work from rural villages who will work for cheap (in comparison to US wages, that is). The CCP in China is also operating more from a “build and they will come” mindset on the hotel issue. One model is not better than the other, they are just both different.
>Did you know there are only about 105,000 hotel rooms in all of India while the US has about 4.4 million? If that’s not shocking enough consider that New York alone has about 110,000 rooms and Shanghai has about 135,000. Is it any shock to you that the prices for basic rooms in India are through the roof? With India having almost 4 times our population, why do you think such a disparity exists and why are the business men in India not capitalizing on such obvious demand?
According to some hotel executives, the blame can be placed on the government for not revising decades-old laws that limit the amount of land for sale which obviously drives up the prices. The Indian Railways has vast land holdings that could easily be converted into track-side hotels but at the moment they are just not willing to give these up. According to the Taj group of hotels, a chain with 7,000 rooms in India, the price of purchasing land at an auction is often just too high to make building a hotel financially viable.
For comparison purposes, a similar quality room in Delhi cost on average $187 versus $122 in Beijing. With India already struggling with infrastructure problems it?s no wonder that hotel room shortages and high prices are at the root of India?s lagging tourism industry. In 2005, New York attracted 6.8 million foreign tourists while India only had 3.9 million. This resulted in $22.8 billion for New York and only $6.7 billion for India. To put these numbers in perspective that translates into about $2,850 per New York resident as compared to $6 per India resident.
Fortunately, there seems to be some progress for the hotel business in India but they definitely have their work cut out for them. It is expected that there will be about $6.5 billion invested in hotel building which will allow for approximately 140,000 new hotel rooms to be built by 2010. Some of the hotels expanding into India are some of the worlds best know names (Hilton, Wyndam, Pan Pacific, etc.) that are all recognizing the huge potential.
So before these big corporate hotel companies come in and dominate the market, who?s down to take on the Indian government and start building some hotel chains? It sounds like if the political front could be worked properly, sky’s the limit!