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 January 2020...

Mobile Technology: Meeting Tech Expectations

What once seemed futuristic is now the norm, owing to the escalating developments in mobile technology, and hotels must continue to innovate in order to meet guest expectations. In a recent study from Mower, 65 percent of guests said they would gladly pay more for a hotel that provides the mobile technology they deem essential. The same study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel, and nearly 7 in 10 want to use smart devices provided by the hotel. And how do guests wish to use all this technology? A majority expressed a desire for mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile payment options. They also want to be able to stream content from their phone to the TV; to make service requests of the hotel staff; to control in-room lighting, temperature and sound; to order food and beverages; and to request a wake-up call - all from their mobile device. Guests also expressed preferences for robust wi-fi and convenient device charging ports throughout the hotel. They also appreciate the use of hotel branded apps which allow a guest to book a room, access loyalty programs, receive discounts and rewards, and even use the app to choose the room, floor and view they prefer. Some hotel apps also allow a customer to track their charges throughout their stay, rather than waiting to receive a bill at the end. Finally, mobile tech lounges are popping up more frequently in some hotels. These lounges offer guests the opportunity to perform tasks like airline check-ins or access to local info guides, but they also provide a place where guests can comfortably get some work done outside their room. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to meet their customers' expectations in the mobile technology space.