Focus on People, Products, Profit
Sharad Puri, Cluster General Manager of Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center and Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park talks about the hotels’ move toward technological advancements
Located near major corporations, IT parks, temples, gardens, tourist spots like Bangalore Palace and malls like Forum Shantiniketan and Phoenix Mall, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center (Sheraton Grand Bengaluru) is the 100th hotel by Marriott International in India. Offering seamless blend of thoughtful services and a wide range of venues, the property is an ideal location to host conferences, reconnect with business associates, friends and family or plan a perfect fairy tale wedding.
Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center
The Convention Center at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru has state-of-the-art facilities to host events and celebrations. The hotel, though built as a city convention hotel, is a perfect getaway destination with open spaces and gardens for families to spend weekends. Guests can also get a tip or two from the experienced horticulturists here.
Another gem by Marriott that is located conveniently in a high-tech campus on Marathahalli-Sarjapur Outer Ring Road is Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park (Aloft Bengaluru). With an eclectic design, open and vibrant social spaces to plug and play, it is a hotel where music, design and technology are deployed to enhance the guest experience. The property has been able to position itself successfully as an approachable hotel for staycations and has served as a successful destination for small weddings with several options of event spaces, both indoor and outdoor.
Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park
Sharad Puri, Cluster General Manager of both the properties, informs that the two hotels are unique and have immense individual characters to attract guests. Shedding light on his strategy for Sheraton Grand Bengaluru and Aloft Bengaluru, Puri says, “Both the hotels are very different and have a strong character and timeless design. My focus is to ensure that the hotels deliver profits and enhance reputation. This can only be achieved with a team of passionate associates.”
NECESSITY, THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
The ongoing pandemic has stirred the standard operating procedures of the hospitality industry and given a push to the sector to innovate. Both these hotels have taken several initiatives to introduce new technology. The teams have been a part of several pilot projects that have been introduced within Marriott International for embracing technology. “Both the hotels have gone digital: instant mobile check-ins, QR codes at high touch points, digitised menus, contactless payments and more. The last 18 months gave us the time to introduce more technology in the heart of the house functions as well. Several activities have been clustered between the two hotels, getting cost-effectiveness and made processes faster,” says Puri, adding, “The good part is that our guests and associates have adapted well to the newly introduced technology.”
Splash Pool, Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park
Guest requirements and expectations too have changed over time and will continue to evolve. Puri believes that a hotel where the guest’s needs are identified well before the reservation stage will always stand out. “Our focus on guest service is to have an emotional impact on them,” he puts in.
Elaborating on keeping pace with these fast-changing demands, Puri says, “Our teams are clear on the difference between service and hospitality. Service is what happens to you and hospitality is what happens for you. The one big difference in guest expectation in the last few years has been sustainability. This is a good sign and we have taken several steps to improve our sustainability quotient. As the country slowly unlocks, there has been a surge in the business. I’m happy the associates of both our hotels are vaccinated and we continue to carry out health drives for our food handlers. It is our endeavour to make every Marriott International guest and associate feel confident that each aspect of our commitment is designed with safety and well-being in mind.”
Swimming Pool, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru
Not only have the guests’ stay preferences matured, their taste buds and concern for hygiene have developed too. This has led the hotels to think out-of-the-box and come up with ideas to meet these expectations as they seek personalisation along with safety and hygiene. “I’m proud of my teams at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center and Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park on Outer Ring Road who came up with innovative ideas for opening up new segments and curating unique experiences. We believe that all this can be done with contactless service and following detailed protocols of the Commitment to Clean, a programme rolled by Marriott International,” says Puri.
Exploring new customer engagement avenues and expanding their services, both the hotels have adapted to a new model regarding home delivery service through Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels. This initiative has helped the hotel in delivering curated culinary offerings such as brunch in a box, festive hampers and more to guests at their doorstep. “Our culinary maestros elevate the experience with their personal touch that has contributed to our reputation,” the Cluster GM adds.
Remix Lounge, Aloft Bengaluru
Sharing the plans for the year ahead, Puri says, “Our focus is to generate and increase the revenue from our overall F&B offerings including Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels as well as from the corporate and leisure packages. At the same time, we showcase our Convention Center as a world-class offering for corporate meetings or social events.”
An industry veteran with over 25 years of experience, Puri terms ‘passion’ as one of the most common qualities among all to be successful. He believes it is important to look beyond the balance scorecard. “I have always taken decisions based on what is good for the future of the hotel and its people. This has helped me personally and professionally,” he puts in.
According to Puri, the key is to get all associates aligned towards a common purpose. “It is critical in current times to keep focus on every aspect of the business – people, guests, products and profit. Ignoring any of these even in the short term can have a long term negative impact on the hotel,” he adds.
Convention Center, Sheraton Grand Bengaluru
Over the years, Puri has had the opportunity to work in large and small hotels that has given him a lot more insight and allowed him to experience different business cycles . This, in turn, has helped him manage costs effectively without cutting corners. “I’m a learner and try to find a new learning from everything. I’m often told by my wife that I find critique in everything. I guess this habit helps me in making the hotel a better place for our guests and associates. I feel a leader needs to be humble, adaptable and a good listener. I put in my best effort every day to improve myself on my adaptability and my listening skills,” he says.
As a leader, he feels that his biggest responsibility is to cultivate a culture of learning and growth. “I also believe in talent development. As the head of both the hotels, it’s important to understand the significance of each function. (I refrain from using the word department in a hotel). Each function is important. Very few businesses involve team work and coordination that a hotel demands,” he adds.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'SMART MANTRAS ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 4'
Around The World