Domestic Tourism is the way forward and it will help in revival of the sector: Veenu Rastogi
Celebrating the work of women leaders in hospitality sector this International Women’s Day, BW HOTELIER interacted with Veenu Rastogi, Area Director Sales & Marketing, North India & Director of Sales and Marketing, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida who shares her opinion of the current status of the travel and hospitality sector, ways for its revival, her own experience during the pandemic and much more…
Equal sharing of work
Rastogi firmly believes that discipline is the base for a balance. According to her, having discipline in life for work and family is the key to success for a healthy balance between personal and professional life. Sharing important learning during the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, she said, “Time is that time has and will always be most uncertain. Before COVID we all were living in a bubble of our own imaginary world. What matters the most in life is your friends, family, colleagues, and people around us.”
With this work from the home mandate, she got an opportunity to spend more time with her family members, “Being more effective and efficient towards my work as I could save a lot of my lot of time to driving all the way at my workplace. But now we are not working from home anymore. In my case, there was equal sharing and distribution of household and childcare between both of us,” she added.
Suggestions for revival of hospitality sector
She feels that as the industry slowly begins to reopen for business, it’s important to remember that everyone is facing tough decisions and uncertainty in the future. “As an industry, we are resilient and will continue to persevere through knowledge sharing, gauging the intentions of travellers, and observing best practices, while implementing new policies and procedures,” she commented. She acknowledged that the number of positive cases has come down significantly due the efforts by the Governments at both central and state level and with support of citizens. Also, the restrictions on travellers have been eased and interstate travel has started all across the country. Calling the news on vaccines as encouraging, she said that it has further boosted hopes for recovery. Similarly, all means of travel i.e., airlines, trains and highways have reported regular increase in the visitors traffic.
Suggesting further steps that can be taken for the hospitality, travel and tourism sector’s revival, she said, “Domestic Tourism is the way forward and it will help in revival of the sector, hence, concessions on income tax on domestic travel undertaken by the taxpayer will help in encouraging people to travel more domestically.”
“The pandemic has been a tough, real-life stress test for government, therefore, measures to boost public confidence should be the topmost priority. The government should incentivise MICE business – by offering weighted deductions to companies on MICE expenses for a designated period as MICE business will take time to recover,” she added.
As stated by her, the sector should be granted the infrastructure status. This would allow hotels to avail electricity, water and land at industrial rates as well as better infrastructure lending rates.
Tips for young sales and marketing professionals in the hospitality sector
She accepts that the hospitality sales world is competitive, for both hotels in hosting events and the planners who orchestrate them. This industry, like any other, calls for constant innovation and strategic skills She mentioned the following attributes for creating an asset and pillar for a dynamic industry.
- Anticipate what your clients want
“One of the things I enjoy most about sales is visiting clients and presenting to them the brand I work for. Research and study your clientele’s expectations in advance and try to anticipate their requirements. The more informed you are, the more convincing you can be,” she asserted.
- Build relationships
She emphasized that the best sales people are those that are able to establish relationships with their customers and not make it seem like they are selling anything. She deems that this is an art and a skill that is hard to perfect.
“Something as simple as remembering your clients’ birthdays or anniversary and sending them an e-card or a small gift, can go a long way in distinguishing yourself from your competitors,” she elaborated.
- Motivate yourself
She is of the opinion that a career in hotel sales is challenging. She said, “You’re working towards hitting your goals within a given budget, ensuring the brand you represent is always present in the marketplace and you’re constantly thinking about how to get new business and ensure your current clientele keep returning to you. For every one person who says ‘Yes’, there are nine who say ‘No’. Thus there’s a need to stay motivated and be prepared to put in extra effort to rise above the challenges that comes with a career in sales.”
- Be aware
Since the hospitality business is diverse and always evolving because of new technology, new markets and so forth, she expressed, “You need to stay alert and aware of what’s happening, so you can implement strategies in your sales plans according to changing market conditions.”
- Work as a team
She maintained that one needs to be a team player to succeed in hospitality sales. She said, “Not all experiences that you create for clients will be the same and each new enquiry will require communication between different departments to ensure great service for your clients. So even though you have personal KPIs and goals to hit, whether you succeed or not will also be dependent on the support you get from various departments of the hotel.”
Conquering challenges with time
Speaking about how challenges shaped her career she said, “I think, I thrive in challenging situations, as that helps me in rethinking, learning, adapting and adopting. For me these situations are more ‘opportunities for improvement’ which is what ensure that in our world no two days are ever the same. Having a strong support network in mentors, family and friends makes the journey that much more endearing.”
“Lastly, the most important lessons learnt must be adaptability and we need to constantly reinvent ourselves as and when the industry demands. Keep evolving and implementing as and when the ancillary industries come up with new trends rather than waiting for drastic situation to bring about the changes,” she added.
RISE to support at IHG
Rastogi asserted that with the women taking up active roles across most of the verticals in varied industries, tourism and hospitality is not left just to remain male-dominated. Over the past decade be it the serene cruise liners or top-notch luxury hotels, women have been joining the ranks of the industry with increased vigour. it is now steadily gaining traction as the “go-to industry” for women.
She shared, “At IHG, our RISE programme (global mentoring initiative for aspiring potential female General Managers) is being rolled out across EMEAA. Mentors and sponsors offer support in a number of ways, including providing mentoring sessions, career development workshops, high-impact learning modules and empowering conversations.”
Besides, ‘Lean In circles’ have been launched across regions and the mission is to empower women to achieve their ambitions through small peer groups, which meet regularly to learn and grow together and provide advice and sounding boards.
Safety comes first
Commenting on the presence of a sexual harassment redressal mechanism, Rastogi said, “Yes, we do have Internal Complaint Committee in place and I am appointed as ‘Presiding Officer.’ We feel that safety and security of colleagues have always been utmost priority for Crowne Plaza Mayur Vihar as an employer.”
“I have always been really confident about the safety standards followed by my hotel and was eagerly wanting to come back to work soon after the lockdown got over. It is easy when every colleague knows their responsibility and actively do so,” she admitted.
Valuing maternity with necessary assistance
When asked about the provisions made for the women who assume the role of motherhood during their tenure, she said, “In my team only there have been two such beautiful occasions and our hotel offered reduced work hours soon after one of my team members resumed after completing her maternity leaves, which helped her focus on her child while managing work smoothly. Another colleague was offered work from home option as per company policy. Flexibility to visit creche on regular intervals, grocery pick-up from hotel store are additional benefits which can be opted by such colleague.”
Night shifts: secured
Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida provides a secured working experience for the women engaged in night shifts with the following facilities:
- Door to Door - Pick and Drop for females working in night shift.
- 24x7 CCTV Operations in work areas, entry exit, hallways, parking and lifts.
- Only asked to work in groups if opts for night shift.
- Emergency phones installed on guest floors with dedicated phone line.
- Frequent rounds during night shift by Security Team.
According to United Nations Women, the theme of this year’s International Women's Day celebration is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ And Rastogi is certainly one such leader who is painting the theme into reality with her diligence and humility.
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