The 59 year old, owner of a million dollar company says that he didn’t venture into hospitality, he stumbled into it. Patanjali Keswani, often known as Patu is the founder of India’s fastest growing hotel chain- Lemon Tree. According to him, at the age of 39 he was facing a mid-life crisis and just decided to do something about it, which made him the brain child of one of the most successful hospitality business venture.
Being from IIT and IIM, Patu had no background in hospitality. Being an engineer and MBA, he joined the TATA Group and ended up working at Taj as the Vice-president and Chief Operating Officer. He had been working there for a decade then and was bored of it. How often do you hear a bold proclamation of one being bored at such a position? Not that often, I bet. He had no intentions of becoming an entrepreneur, but who knew Patu was about to be one of India’s most successful entrepreneur?
He wanted to enter the Indian market somehow. After doing some strategic assignments for MNCs who also wanted to enter the Indian market, he realised there were no mid-priced ranged hotels in India. He realised how dynamic the Indian market was and exploited the opportunity to its fullest to start a range of mid-priced hotels called the Lemon Tree.
After this study, one day Patu impulsively decided to start a small budget hotel. He knew if he thought a lot, he wouldn’t do it.
This was in May, 2004 that he had a hotel with 49 rooms. After his first hotel have him the profit, according to what he’d planned in his business model, he bought another plot in Gurgaon. He continued building hotels and then finally classified them into 3 brands. Firstly, the Lemon Tree Premier where he offered five starred services for four starred prices. The second was Lemon Tree Hotels where he offered four starred services in three starred prices. And lastly, Red Fox, where he offered three starred services in two starred prices. Isn’t that a very unique way of attracting the customers!
Lemon Tree also follows its Corporate Social Responsibilities. It hires about 21% of their employees who are physically challenged. Along with this, it’s a supporter of a NGO, PETA and has a dog mascot for its every hotel.