ITC’s “responsible luxury” ethos has evolved with time, moving with the changing needs of luxury consumers, according to a company executive.
GURUGRAM, India—The idea of responsible luxury has been the foundation of the ITC Hotels brand.
ITC Limited, parent company of ITC Hotels, launched its first foray into the hotel industry in 1975 with the WelcomHotel Chennai (formerly Chola Sheraton, Chennai).
Now the India hotel chain is set to add a 12th property to its Luxury Collection with the ITC Kohenur.
With more than 100 hotels in 70 destinations spread across four brands, ITC Hotels has seen how the concept of luxury has changed, Nakul Anand, executive director of ITC Limited, said.
“Luxury as we know it has evolved in the past decade. Opulence and indulgence that once formed the cornerstone of luxury is fast being replaced with luxury that meaningfully contributes to all affection by its creation and consumption,” he said.
ITC’s definition of luxury
The idea of luxury has been molded into what the brand calls “responsible luxury,” which Anand describes as a triple-bottom-line approach.
The three tiers include economic, environmental and social, which focus on better profits, protection of the natural environment and benefit to society, he said.
“Today, the sense of responsibility and commitment towards the environment is a way of life for most of our guests, who at the same time do not wish to compromise on the exacting high standards of quality,” he said. He added that guests are realizing it’s unfair for hotels to charge them a premium for their experience and “burden them with the guilt of indulgence at the cost of the environment.”
Responsible luxury for the brand means ensuring guest experience is not bogged down with reminders to constantly check consumption of towels or water, Anand said.
And while ITC hosts 12 LEED Platinum hotels in India, there’s more to being responsible than being “green,” he said. It starts, he said, with a commitment to guests, associates, the community and the planet, through experiences that are “indigenous to the culture and ethos that our hotels are located in,” he said.
This idea is visible through each hotel’s architecture, interior design, services and cuisine, he said, bridging a gap that existed in hotels that echoed India’s diversity. Anand added that the hotels act as “windows into the region.”
“ITC began building hotels that were an archetype of the culture and ethos of the region they were located in,” he said. “The distinct identity and localization that we brought to our hotels, premised on the ethos of responsible luxury, has been the game changer for us in the last decade.”
Market segmentation and targeting consumers
While luxury is the main theme, ITC’s strategy is to span different segments of the market, Anand said, which is reflected in each of the four hotel brands: ITC Hotels—The Luxury Collection, WelcomHotels & Sheraton, Fortune and WelcomeHeritage.
Because the concept of luxury has advanced considerably over the past few decades, Anand said, the hospitality industry will be challenged to “curate bespoke experiences to match the ever-evolving tastes of the discerning luxury customer.”
He added that the luxury consumer of the future may not be easily wowed and will choose to invest in rare experiences, beyond a Champagne-paired private dinner or prime seats at a concert, for example, he said.
It’s become more of a must for hotels to weave the destination into the hotel experience, he said, and showcase it by creating indigenous encounters and introducing traditions from the surrounding community, such as private tours of local villages.
Continuing brand expansion
To continue brand growth, ITC’s Luxury Collection is planting its roots in Hyderabad, known as the HITEC City (Hyderabad Information Technology and Engineering Consultancy City), with the 271-room ITC Kohenur, which is expected to open this spring.
The ITC Kohenur will “offer the best of both worlds to business and leisure travelers alike,” Anand said, adding that the tech-focused feel of the city will draw guests in for business travel, but they also will likely stay to explore historical sites and other attractions.
Also in the pipeline for the Luxury Collection is the ITC Royal Bengal in Kolkata, ITC Narmada in Ahmedabad and the ITC One in Colombo.