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‘Customise Product Locally, Adapt To Culture Personally’

Normally expat CEOs have a tenure of about four to five years in India. In the hospitality sector, certainly, most foreign hotel chains in India have rotated their India chiefs pretty rapidly. An exception to the rule is Jean-Michel Casse, who has been scripting French hospitality chain Accor’s India story for nearly ten years now. Ask him and with a grin he says, it’s not just any foreign CEO, he has outlasted the heads of local chains too. The much awarded hotelier (he has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite, a French honour for distinguished civil and military achievements), who is also special adviser of the French Foreign Trade and Vice-President and General Secretary of the committee in India talks about what it takes for an expat to adapt to India, and more:

The secret behind the long innings in India

First of all, hotel development in Asia is a matter of trust. In India this is more true than in other Asian countries. The relationship is very important. You have to get a good partner and bank on this relationship.

Second, when I arrived here in 2008, a series of things happened – the Mumbai terrorist attack, then the global economy dropped, the world was in turmoil and yet we were growing rapidly in India. The growth made it very exciting for me personally. In 2008 when I arrived we had one hotel operating. Today we have 55 hotels in operation. I could have gone anywhere but changing countries for the sake of changing made no sense when the growth was here.

The third reason is that unlike others we are different, in the sense we are investors too. It’s okay to change leadership when it’s a question of management contracts but we have put our money here.

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