Editorial Board   Guest Author

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 912244310000 or zshiekh@svenskahotels.com

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.