Editorial Board

Mr. Shiekh

Zia Shiekh

CEO, Svenska Hotels

Zia Shiekh has a very successful track record of building a $100 million multi-national business from scratch and growing it to an operation of over 2,000 employees with 40% profit margins. Born and brought up in Stockholm, Sweden, Mr. Shiekh has studied, worked, built businesses and supported customers across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. With background in investment banking working with Morgan Stanley, Mr. Shiekh led and established an international call centre and business process outsourcing (BPO) company, Infowavz International, in April 2000 with financing from India’s largest venture capital fund, ICICI Ventures. In 4 years, he helped build Infowavz into one of India’s leading BPOs with blue-chip clients, including Microsoft, Louis Vuitton, Nordic Track, AT&T, HP, IBM, Dell, Daimler Benz and BT, amongst others. In April 2004, Mr. Shiekh successfully provided an exit to ICICI through a strategic sale to Stream, a global BPO company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, USA, backed by Miami-based private equity firm, HIG Capital, with over $2 billion in assets under management. Over the next five years, Mr. Shiekh turned around the loss-making Indian operations of Stream into a highly profitable organization of over 2,000 people spread across multiple locations in India, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. In July 2008, Mr. Shiekh helped take Stream public with listing on the American Stock Exchange after which he sold his shareholding and exited Stream in April 2009 to focus on establishing a premier, high-end 5-star boutique hotel chain – Svenska Hotels. Mr. Shiekh has a Masters degree in Finance and an MBA from the London Business School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He has also done executive programs in hospitality at the Cornell Hotel School, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. Svenska Design Hotels are a collection of modern boutique 5-star hotels in India based on Swedish design philosophy and contemporary European styling with clean lines and minimalist interiors. Svenska offers trend-setting concepts and chic design elements combined with signature service and personalized hospitality, creating truly memorable experiences for its discerning guests. Svenska is a lifestyle product, with hotels located in prime city centre areas or business districts, catering to every need of sophisticated luxury travellers, whether on business or pleasure. All Svenska Hotels have smart international staff handpicked from locations around the globe, who are then carefully trained in Asian hospitality to provide guests with a refined and tailored experience that is beyond 5-star. Beyond its first two hotels in India in Mumbai and Bangalore, Svenska has aggressive expansion plans across multiple Indian states, including New Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Uttarkhand, with a 10-year vision for Year 2020 with 20 new hotels being launched across India and overseas.

Mr. Shiekh can be contacted at +91-22-44310000 or zshiekh@svenskahotels.com

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.