We Aim to Invest Heavily in Our Talent Pool: Nitin Pathak, General Manager, Novotel Pune

"While it is important to monitor competitors, copying them won’t get us anywhere, focus on what makes us special and emphasizing this in our marketing activities will create a point of difference for potential guests," says Pathak.

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NITIN PATHAK has been recently appointed as the General Manager of Novotel Pune Nagar Road. Pune being one of the major attractions among hospitality veterans, BW Hotelier spoke to Pathak to know about the hospitality market and his plans with the property.

How Pune market is growing in terms of the hospitality market?

Pune hotel market is looking very strong and the demand has been showing immense growth potential. Continued strong growth rates in inbound travel coupled with muted supply growth are definitely going to help the industry. Nationwide, the settling down of business sectors to all the new initiatives rolled out in 2017-18 and growing strong demand from the domestic market segment will add more impetus to the cause. Pune as a city is blessed with a varied and diverse business setup. Pune Metro Project Project, increasing flights nationally and internationally and venture capitalists investing in sectors like automobile, IT and biotechnology projects in Pune, emerging micro - markets in the city like Chakan, Kharadi, Ranjangaon and Baner will definitely help in generating demand. The hospitality sector has surely seen increased competition which is visible with the emergence of almost all major hospitality brands investing in Pune market.

As a business hotel, how do you face competition among others?

I firmly believe that the competition always helps the business and the end customers as well. It keeps you on toes and at the same time forces you to innovate. As a business hotel, we also have competition from all kind of hotels on parameters ranging from guest satisfaction to price points. Luxury brands offering similar price points, we as business hotels have to churn out a unique experience for the guest each time. While it is important to monitor competitors, copying them won’t get us anywhere, focus on what makes us special and emphasizing this in our marketing activities will create a point of difference for potential guests. At Novotel Pune we strive to create a great experience by maintaining standards and without compromising on the quality.

How Novotel Pune is using technology to suffice the need of business travellers?

Today's Business traveler is well traveled and is always on the go. We follow the Novotel brand philosophy of balancing work and play. While we have ample facilities to make the stay comfortable, we also have enough and more options to enjoy the time after work. Some of other technological advancements we have made are virtual concierge, Wi-Fi on almost every relevant device guest is carrying, electronic play zones, etc. we have got a very positive response in terms of guest satisfaction and there is definitely a change in booking patterns, however it’s too early to comment on the impact these innovations have on the loyalty of the guest and subsequently the overall revenue.

Brief us about the recent trends you are witnessing among travelers?

Over the period of time guests have made this industry truly magnificent. The past 10 years, there have been a flurry of developments in the areas of design & technology, internet, security, laws, etc. impacting the industry considerably. It’s been a decade of hospitality renaissance. A coming of age, an evolution of service as it should be … and a tribute to true personalization. Today’s traveller choices are varied but to mention the important ones are:

My stay, my choice: I can choose and book all elements of my stay before I arrive, from my king sized bed, a fabulous view, non-allergenic pillows, a dinner at the hot new fusion restaurant on my 3rd night, a super chocolate sundae, served cold upon arrival (not to forget my airport pickup and drop).

Most of the guests travelling now wants to have their preference and choices to be honoured and taken care of by the hotel. Also, our revenue and inventory management systems have evolved to a level where every amenity and service can be chosen, packaged, sold and delivered.

I stay. I sell: I choose where to stay and what to do based on the recommendations of my personal social network. Why should I trust all the hype, marketing and advertising when I have perfectly good friends & like-minded acquaintances who’ve been there, done that? If I like what I experience, I may recommend the hotel to my network.

We have realized that guest’s virtual and physical social networks are a long ignored distribution channel. Not only are the distribution and commission margin costs a lot lower, but the quality of the referrals is a lot more credible and brings in exactly the kind of guests the hotel is looking for.

I can teach the chef a thing or two: I’m no longer interested in being told what I can and cannot eat. Sometimes I enjoy a little ‘breakfast’ in the afternoon. And maybe I’d like to mix and match my accompaniments, garnishes and dressings, despite what the chef thinks is a good idea! It’s my palate…I decide what’s creative. I’d like a menu that understands me like my doctor and fitness trainer do…and makes gentle recommendations that help me please my palate, appetite and keep me healthy.

What are your future plans in the hotel?

Apart from the strong sustainable long term revenue growth, we would be focusing on value propositions which makes us relevant, differentiated and credible operator. Being part of Accor Hotels, we are going through a cultural transformation or as we call it now as the ‘Heartist Journey’. At Novotel Pune as part of AccorHotels, we shall aim at mastering the fine art of welcoming and serving others and focus immensely on our service delivery system. The aim is to take our reputation performance scores to a significant level.

We also aim to invest heavily in our talent pool. We shall be focusing in hiring people who are motivated and inspired by our value propositions.


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