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Exclusive Interview | Prasenjit Guha Thakurta, General Manager, Dhensa Boutique Resort, Phunaka, Bhutan

Editor: Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? 

 To be honest, it was all by accident that I landed up in the Hospitality sector. My first love was and has always been the Defense but due to certain constraints my first love was lost, and I also did not want to pursue general studies and hence opted for Hotel Management….. and today I can proudly say I have no regrets what so ever………. Just like in Defense this Industry first break you down and then make a Man out of you, highly decorative, implacable you have to be at all times, with an eye for details, always alert, working at times under stressful circumstances but enjoying every moment as no two moments are the same…… it challenges you all the time.

 Graduated in 1994 and since then have been in this Industry. In 2003 in my quest for more knowledge, I decided to undergo Master’s in Hotel and Tourism and went to France, 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 and have also been instrumental in successfully opening 04 Hotels in diverse geographical locations.

Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? 

 You need a passion for serving the guest, creativity and hard work. Today’s Market Dynamics requires a continuous learning and need for innovation. One needs to have a long term vision, focused, determination and with a fire in the belly to succeed, is someone who can excel in this industry. 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 keep on learning new skills, being creative in one’s approach and doing everything keeping the Guest as the center point of focus at all time.

Editor: What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? 

 Personally I look for people who has a genuine urge to learn and grow along with a positive mindset.
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? 

 They need to understand the core culture of the Hospitality Industry, eager to learn with a hands on approach, be a go getter, willing to put in long hours and should understand that nothing in life comes easy. They must spend full time in the areas allocated to them to learn the intricacies of each and every departments, to augment an in-depth understanding of all concern Departments and also to realize that no Department is small and all of them are relevant to the organization and its success story.

Editor: Tell us a little about your average day 

 As a General Manager it is very important to keep in touch with the happenings in the Hotel and also to have a firsthand pulse on both the External as well as my Internal Guests ( My Customers/ Clients and my Team Members respectively)

 My day starts with a Property Round, wishing all my Associates as I come across and with small talks to brighten up the Morning. Next Meet and catch up with My Guests at the Restaurant or the Lobby while they are having breakfast or Checking Out.

This is followed by the Morning Meeting with the management team of the property, covering all aspects of the Daily Revenues, achievements, shortfalls and issues being faced. Guest feed backs are also discussed and a lot of importance is given on the same. This is then followed up with checking my mails and responding to them.

This is again followed with the second phase of the Property Round and normally I take up one Department a Day where I interact with the respective HOD at length about his / her Department and also with the other junior associates. A Financial Update in Details is very important to keep a continuous check on the health of the Organization and both the Income and Expenditure Daily, MTD and YTD at length is discussed with Finance Department.

 Next half an hour to 45 minutes is spent with the Reservation and Sales Team to understand the Income revenues and on Social Media Marketing. 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.

 Dinner time gives a good opportunity to meet with Guests and have a firsthand knowledge of their overall experience and to spend some quality time with Guests and also to network…… I make it a point to meet with each and every Guest staying at my Hotel and even with the walk in Guests coming for Lunch/ Show Around etc….

Editor: How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality? 

 Reading is one of the best ways to keep you up-to-date with the happenings of the Industry and also about the other Industries, Socio economic issues and the environment in general which has a direct and indirect impact on our Industry. Networking with people from the Industry, suppliers, Guests, and across Industries and Boarders also helps to enhance one’s perception and to have a much broad based perception of the Market. It is also important to have an in-depth local knowledge and in all cases technology today is a huge blessings.

I do subscribe to various Magazines, Social Media, Online Forums and also undertake research activities with renowned Universities.

Editor: Two things you would like to change about the industry 

 1. Attracting the skilled workers is a big problem that the Hotel Industry is facing today. The growth of the industry is not proportionate of the availability of the Trained work force. Which is causing Deterioration of service standards. It’s tough because of the wide gap between the actual trade requirements and the knowledge that is imparted during academics. Academics needs to be tailor made to fit into Today’s requirements and not just on the age old theories.

 2. Maximum attrition and loss of talent at the start of the pipeline is another area that needs to be addressed, through On-Job Skill development and Career progression plan, and I personally feel that the industry has a lot of scope in this area.