With its cutting-edge hotel concepts and next-generation technology driven product, the Bloom Hotel Group has been conservative on its growth plans. This however seems to be history as the brand has quietly moved their expansion plans into top gear, coinciding with India becoming the world’s third largest airline market at a 100 million passengers. The much acclaimed and often emulated Bloom Hotels in typical fashion has initiated this plan in a measured and well thought out manner.
The first step was multiple launches in Goa, with the newly minted BloomSuites brand launching a flagship 140 room hotel in the heart of Calangute Goa, followed a few weeks later by another 55 room hotel under the Bloomrooms flag in the same market. The company has also lined up plans to launch in 20 other locations across Indiafrom Hyderabad to Kochi to Mumbai.
On the rapid expansion, Mr. Tom Welbury, Bloom Vice President Strategy said, “This is just the start. We said no to countless developer requests in the initial years. Fast growth works well for vanity linked goals and for investors to mark up their valuations on multiples of revenue. But this wasn’t for us and is eventually value dilutive. We’ve picked the right investors and iterated our product carefully over the years. Now that we’ve got it right in Delhi and Bangalore we will treat travellers to the award winning Bloom experience in all cities of India.”
According to most hotel industry experts, Bloom has been a quintessential pioneer in the value affordable space starting with their innovative Rooms Only category and proprietary technology platform before anyone had even considered this. The Rooms Only category launched by Bloomrooms in 2012 didn’t initially gain much attention from competitors. But a few years later there was a rush of imitator brands appending the room tag on their names which led to a growth boom in the segment. Instead of riding the hype the Bloom brand blocked out the noise, shunned growth and continued to look inward to product and market fit. At the time this was a brave move with easy capital and growth on offer, but in hindsight has made complete sense considering their current product strength and accomplishments. However, at long last this year seems to have brought a shift in their strategy and Bloom will soon be rolling out the brand for travellers in all key markets.
On this strategic move, Mr. Sanjeev Sethi, Bloom Chief Operating Officer, an industry stalwart, who is leading the brand said, “We at Bloom live similar values – we celebrate our relationships that stand on two pillars of trust and transparency whereby each stakeholder ‘blooms to his best’. At Bloom, we do not necessarily want to be the largest but rather the best. Despite the brand’s pan–Indiaroll out commencing, we will not sacrifice the Bloom standards of excellence. Our hotels are segment leaders in their micro markets both by ranking and performance and this will never be compromised. We are fortunate that we also have found such developers to partner with us, who are equally passionate and are aligned to our goals of being the best. So even though we may be stepping on the accelerator to scale up our presence we will never need to compromise on quality.”
On being asked how he plans to fund this expansion and where he sees growth in the next few years, Mr. Sethi explained, “On growth we are well supported by our Board and quality investor group who are thought leaders in the industry. This is further helped by the fact that we are delivering far superior returns on investment than all our competitors. The action is in the value proposition and mid market segments and we are not focusing on the 5 & 6 star space. It is an exciting time for Bloom as we take on and surpass established global brands who haven’t understood the local landscape.”
On observing the failures and struggles of various leading global brands in India, the local advantage isn’t far from fact. China was also eventually won by domestic brands that were nimble and adapted to local conditions far better than their western competitors. This certainly holds true in key Indian markets where Bloom has gone head to head with renowned international brands and come out on top.
Maybe quality emerging market brands like Bloom have a promising future as India becomes one the world’s fastest growing economies coupled with the government’s various infrastructure projects and the rising aspirational middle class. With an all-star team of proven industry professionals in place, it appears Bloom is well on its way to back up their claims and goals.
The eventual beneficiary will be the value driven Indian traveller who wants a world-class experience at a surprisingly affordable price. After a 100 hotels future plans include investments in the cruise industry and potentially launching a low cost carrier.
The success appears to be a combination of experienced leadership, product and being well funded which should help get their flag to all corners of the country. According to sources there may also be further plans to raise additional capital to boost the pace of the roll out. The senior management declined specific comment but did say that they aren’t in the inflated valuation game and only work with smart strategic investors even if it means a lower valuation. Steering clear of misaligned capital allows the focus to remain on long term goals and vision. Fair approach in this day and age where start-ups and promising companies have made fund raising the end rather than the means.