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 +91-22-44310000 or zshiekh@svenskahotels.com

Coming up in February 2020...

Social Media: Social Listening Tools

The reach and influence of social media is staggering. Nearly 3 billion people use social media daily, posting a range of messages, selfies, images, and everything in-between. According to HubSpot, almost 4 million posts are uploaded to the major social networks every single minute! That's an astounding amount of content and it is crucial for hotels to skillfully use social media in order to effectively compete. From establishing a suitable brand identity and voice to creating content across all the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), the goal is to actively engage consumers and to eventually convert them to customers. Some hotels are initiating online contests as a way to attract new customers, while others are rewarding customers with discounts who subscribe to the their email lists or follow their social media pages. Another recent strategy is to employ social media listening tools that track what people are posting online about their businesses. These tools allow hotels to monitor - or listen to - what's being said about a brand across the entire social web, and this can prove to be very valuable, unfiltered information. Social listening permits hotels to be aware of people's opinions about their business, industry or competitors, and some of these tools even listen beyond social media platforms. They also monitor publicly available information on blogs, forums, news outlets and websites. Some listening tools are more focused on gathering and analyzing data, while others offer more engagement-oriented features, which allow hotels to interact with people right from the platform. Often the information that is gleaned from these listening tools ends up being the most authentic, unbiased insights a business can get. The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to successfully integrate social media strategies into their operations.