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Inside Asia


Sep 24, 2017

What’s the future look like for travel and tourism? From health care, to telecom, to asset management, very few industries are spared the onslaught of a tech-driven business proposition that brings with it major disruption. The old timeworn solutions to old timeworn problems are rapidly disappearing.

I sat recently with the Asia Pacific head of one of the world’s largest hotel chains and when I asked what kept him up at night, he barely missed a beat: AirBNB, he said. Barely a decade old, this rooms-for-rent business is today valued at more than US$30 billion. It boasts 150 million users, and operates in close to 200 countries. Today, AirBNB has more rooms on offer than the top three global hotel chains combined. What started out as a quirky lodging alternative for the casual tourist is rapidly becoming a high-end choice for the business traveler.

Re-thinking the future of travel and its implications for the hospitality sector is the subject of this episode. My guest is Gaurav Sinha, Founder of Insignia Worldwide & Chairman and CEO of Quillon Hospitality.

Befitting the topic of our discussion, I spoke with Gaurav on the beautifully manicured grounds of the Maya Ubud Resort in Bali. On a grassy knoll, we watched the late afternoon sun paint the gardens with a soft orange glow and listened to the rise and fall of the sound of cicadas.

Sinha spoke of something different than the “industrialized luxury” that has become all too familiar, where success is determined by room rates and occupancy levels. The day is coming, he suggested, when hoteliers will wake up to a new brand of service, driven less by the bottom-line and more by a commitment to assist the traveler in the experience of the place to which he or she has traveled.  

It’s a riveting discussion. Thanks for listening.