Pursuing perfection

In the 16th show of the second edition of BW HOTELIER’s The GM Show, industry experts discussed on the topic, Striving for Excellence: Addressing Operational Challenges in India's Hospitality Industry

Hospitality is at the cutting edge of luxury and matching service delivery of one has to strive for excellence to be counted by discerning and demanding global travellers who pay top dollars. And big, long gestation investments call for deft management controls and better execution to be able to deliver such world-class standards and service across all aspects about a luxury hotel. During the 16th episode of BW HOTELIER’s The GM Show Season 2 titled Striving for Excellence: Addressing Operational Challenges in India’s Hospitality Industry, a group of distinguished panellists from the hospitality industry voiced their opinions on the subject. These included Mohammad Shoeb, Associate VP - North India, Pride Hotels Group; Anirban Sarkar, GM, Radisson Blu Hotel Greater Noida; Kapil Vig, GM, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini; Rakesh Sethi, GM, Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Dwarka and Davinder Juj, GM, Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place.

The 16th show of the second season began with the host-moderator Bhuvanesh Khanna putting up the first question to Mohammad Shoeb. On the unique operational challenges faced by the hospitality industry in India, Shoeb said, “The biggest challenge post-pandemic has been to attract talent for the hospitality industry. More than 50 per cent of the hotel management graduates do not choose hospitality as an option. It is time for all of us to instill confidence in the younger generation or budding hospitality professionals to be a part of the industry. Another challenge for us has been on retaining talent which we have acquired. Hospitality industry is no more limited to metro cities. Now, most national and international brands have penetrated even into Tier II and III cities thereby creating more opportunities.”

The next question was directed to Anirban Sarkar on the strategies to optimise revenue through dynamic pricing, upselling and effective revenue management practices. Sharing his opinion, Sarkar said, “We have historically seen that though the hotel business looks luring, but the returns are not as good as they should be. The delta between our property’s highest ADR and the lowest ADR is almost eight times. We need to price it right so that it is high enough, but it is also good enough for a person to buy it. Dynamic pricing is the first thing that one should look into when talking about revenue management. When we increase our prices, it also about convincing the customer to buy the same product at a higher price. It is also about how we price it well enough that we lose out on the existing opportunities, and we also navigate between the demand and supply situation there at that point of time.” 

The host-moderator next turned to Kapil Vig on addressing the difficulties in recruiting and retaining skilled staff in a competitive job market. Vig said, “The biggest challenge the industry today has is talent and retaining it too. Talent needs to be broken down into two aspects. One is the current experienced quality talent in the industry and the challenge of retaining them. The other part is hiring a fresh graduate who has an absolutely different expectation from the job. There is high demand for the right talent at the right place but extreme shortage of such people. The gap between a job offer letter and a job joining is nearly a 50-60 per cent dropout so we are literally rolling out two offers for the same position with the expectation that at least one of them joins in. With IHMs having nearly 60 per cent seats vacant, we are looking at a bigger problem down the line where there will be no one to join the hotel in the next two to three years.”

Next up was Rakesh Sethi to whom the host-moderator asked about the strategies needed to maintain consistent service quality across various touchpoints within the hospitality establishment. On this, Sethi opined, “Hospitality is people’s business and providing quality is a must. We invest in our people through an employee-friendly engaging and entertaining mobile app where people on-board themselves in terms of brand culture, brand ethos on the convenience of their device in their free time. When our people go into their respective departments, we ensure there are certified department trainers who are experts at their jobs. People are inducted into their departments through SOPs, product knowledge and situation handling. Being consistent in how the customer experience is delivered has a different meaning to consistently delivering the same experience every time. Having a culture which reinforces the employees to connect with their customers can be a challenging task.”

Highlighting the role of technology in streamlining operations, enhancing guest experiences and managing reservations, payments and communication, Davinder Juj shared, “Technology is the need of the hour, and it has to be very carefully utilised in the hospitality industry, one which is more about human touch. It needs to be managed carefully and we should know how much digital integration is required so that it doesn’t rob our customers of the human touch of hospitality. Technology is helping streamlining operations on day-to-day basis. As technology has evolved, it has helped hotels better understand guests’ preferences.”

After another round of interesting questions to each of the panellists, the show culminated with the host-moderator Bhuvanesh Khanna thanking the esteemed panellists for sharing their thoughts and views on the subject and informing about the next GM Show at 4 pm on September 7.


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