Editor: Tell us about your journey. How did it all start?
As a child I was always fascinated with the 5 star Hotels with Tall Buildings, Chandeliers and the elevators. Hailing from a Small North Indian town, we used to get rare chance to go to such Hotels only during weddings or other Big family events. I was always attracted to the way food was served and the different cuisines.
From small age only I had started helping my mother in Cooking. We were then living in a society where Medical and Engineering had the top most place in the list of careers and unfortunately Hotel Management was unknown and looked down upon as a Lowly career option. But when I reached a point of selection along with the IIT-Jee and medical entrances I also gave Hotel Management entrance. And as I dreamt I was selected and given a seat at IHMCT, Goa. Later on I was selected for Medical Course out of waiting list, but I continued with Hotel Management despite some protests from family. So in 1988 I started with my Hotel management and since then I have not looked back, I have worked in many cities of India with different type of hotels and Resorts, from High End Luxury Hotels to Time share resorts, gathering a valuable experience of Customer Requirements and means of satisfying them while achieving the commercial goals.
I worked in different geographical Locations and with diverse & culturally different work force, giving me the adaptability, patience and understanding of different Cultures and Values. I also used these years for my self-development, by devoting whatever time I could take out in academic pursuits of doing additional small tenure courses and also devoted time to write articles and impart trainings. In 2010 in my quest for more knowledge, I decided to shift to Kurdistan Region, taking up responsibility to complete an 85 Million USD project of 5 Star Deluxe Winter Ski Resort & Spa. Working with international and Local work force to not just setup the resort but also to provide the requisite training and imparting skills to the local manpower.
Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?
The Hospitality Industry is no more a Bed and Breakfast industry, it is very huge and has many specializations involved. The fast changing technology has also made the industry very competitive. This has generated a need for a fast pace embracing of changes.
The Client requirements over the years and the changing face of the way business is done today has brought upon us a Bouquet of opportunities, the industry today has diversified into various sectors, like aviation catering, Railway catering, Business Hotels, Luxury Leisure Hotels, Budget Hotels, Hospital Catering, Facilities Management ……. And so many that we can’t list them here. For anyone to succeed it’s very important that they must specialize in one of the concepts but while having a knowledge of as many as possible. Keep yourself abreast with the latest technological advancements and trends in the industry.
Today’s Market Dynamics requires a continuous learning and need for innovation. Today’s guest needs changes, and they keep a lookout for something new, innovative and Creative. With the exceptional options available to client today it’s very important that we should be one up with our competition. This is only possible when we understand the client requirements and change or retain according to them. So it’s important to continuously create a data of the Guest feedbacks, request and complaints, which should be analyzed and then actioned upon to improve guest satisfaction.
Editor: What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring?
Personally when I am selecting someone for my own team, I am looking at a person who believes in Team Work, believes that they can grow only when their subordinates are ready to take their place. They mentor and grow their team to take up challenges in more Informed and Knowledgeable manner. A Team Leader. Creative & Innovative Mind, A Team Member who believes in surpassing his own initiatives to provide guest with the feeling of getting something more than they expected. it’s very important to have Basic qualifications required for the Job, but also should have experience of Learning & development not in the sense of being in that department, but being a Trainer of your own team. Salesmanship, every person employed is an ambassador of the Mission and Vision of the organization, if they are able to sell this to there internal customers to ensure the delivery to the Customers in a positive manner, they will succeed.
Never the less attributes like Honesty, Customer Focus, Responsibility etc. are also prime in selection of a right person.
Editor: What according to you can trainees do while they are training at hotels to make it a win-win for them & the hotel/unit?
Most of the Trainees, take the Vacation or Industrial Training part of there Curriculum as one more task, which diminishes the importance of the Training to a Large extent. They Must understand that this is First Full time exposure they have in the industry, which gives them a chance to observe, experience and decide what they would like to be in the industry. The Niche corner they would like to hold. Trainees Must ensure that they keep a personal log of what they see and do in the Industry.
They must spend full time in the areas allocated to them to learn the intricacies of these departments. No Department is small and all of them are relevant to the organization and its success. The must understands what role this department plays in the overall success of the Hotel. Most of the Institutes and peers give preconceived ideas about various departments and what should be avoided and what should be accepted. Which is totally wrong. Every trainee must come to the Industry with New Eyes and no Notions, experience and observe everything afresh. They must ask questions and seek answers from there Buddies, Mentors or trainers within the organization, this is one of the best ways to learn in depth. Give your suggestions and views if you feel they are good. It’s not always Trainees who learn, sometime we also learn from fresh ideas.
This process of sharing and gathering information will help trainees in not only becoming an asset for the Hotel for the period they are there, but also give them an edge by being part of the operational Team and learning which otherwise may not be possible.
Editor: Tell us a little about your average day
Average day of a General Manager is the most exciting part. Starts with Daily Morning Meetings, with the management team of the property, covering all aspects of the Daily Revenues, achievements, shortfalls and issues being faced. Requires a part of the day dedicated to the communications and tackling the daily inflow of emails, acknowledging them and sending requisite replies. Also checking and sending the MIS to the Corporate office. Rounds of the property is the most important and time consuming aspect as it brings you closer to the operations and also provides you a chance to interact with the Guests and Staff. A part of the day is also associated with the coordination with Finance, HR and Engineering.
This is very important to keep a control on these for a successful operation from the Cost point of View. Social Media Marketing is another major part along with the other Sales and Marketing activities, Monitoring, analyzing and discussing these with S&M team and coming up with different ideas for short term plans on daily basis to boost sales is required. As a General Manager you are also required to handle Various protocols of welcoming the Visiting Dignitaries, meetings with Government officials and Lesioning with the Top Politicians and Bureaucrats of your City. Usually we sometime feel how good it will be to have 36 hrs. in a Day……….
Editor: How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality?
Like I mentioned earlier in the Interview, in today’s fast pacing world we need to have things on our tips. The technology has changed the world and also the way we grasp things and search for knowledge. I ensure that I subscribe to possibly best Magazines and Trade publications, Online Newsletters, Industry newsletters and also keep myself abreast with information from suppliers of hospitality requirements as their Innovations and Creativity helps us in providing new and best to the clients. I also use the social media networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to connect to people in the industry, clients, contractors, suppliers, Industry leaders and Industry workers.
These platforms provide me with opportunity to connect and share information with everyone and learn something new at all times.
Editor: Two reasons why this industry is awesome!
This is the Only Industry which will remain with a personal touch at all times, no technology can ever change that. This industry brings people of different cultures and places to experience the positive differences in cultures. This is the only industry, which provides equal opportunities to every and any one to grow and succeed. With the growth of other industries our industry grows and has opportunities increasing day by day.
Editor: Two things you would like to change about the industry.
Today Industry is facing big problem with the skilled workers, the growth of the industry is not proportionate of the availability of the Trained work force. Which is causing Deterioration of service standards. We must change the way we employ manpower; all big companies must ensure as part of there CSR activities to arrange for training of the local people in our trade. Which will not only solve the unemployment problem, but will also help industry in maintaining standards.
Standard Nomenclature of designations is another issue, which causes problems in integrating people from other companies / countries into the work force. we find some hotels using non- standard designations. Sometimes industry just to save on manpower costs gives Higher designations to people not deserving it, and sometime the do some other work and have different designations. To solve this, we must ensure that we have certification processes for the industry and the staff must undergo tests for certifications, to ensure a very transparent and justified recruitments.