‘F&B has always been our strength’
Shrikant Wakharkar, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Delhi and Area Vice President - Hyatt Hotels, North India talks about current state of hospitality industry and challenges for sustainable tourism
“When you work in the hospitality industry, you are responsible for various tasks at once. It is of utmost importance to show up every day with your ‘A’ game. A successful hotelier must possess a combination of factors which include – social skills, eye for detail, financial acumen, leadership skills, patience and perseverance among others,” says Shrikant Wakharkar, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Delhi and Area Vice President - Hyatt Hotels, North India.
Wakharkar, who recently took over as the man at the helm of affairs at Hyatt Regency Delhi, the 494-room hotel, had started his career with the Taj Group. He spent around 15 years with the Group, moving through the ranks in the F&B department before joining InterContinental and followed it with stints at Starwood, Marriott and finally, Hyatt. “During my career of almost three decades, I have gained a wealth of experience and wide-reaching knowledge of the hospitality industry including restaurant pre-openings, hotel upgradation/ renovation projects, sales generation and sustaining significant bottom-line results,” he says.
Hospitality: Today and tomorrow
There is no doubt that the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn has had a significant impact on all industries including hospitality. “Having said that, there has been a shift in societal behaviour and an increase in consumer awareness about all things sustainable and purposeful which are changing the trends in the hospitality industry. Additionally, almost every reputed global brand is present in India now and the future looks even brighter and encouraging as the country continues to grow in all spheres of businesses. Hotels would play a very important role in the coming years and many of them are expected to open in Tier III and Tier IV cities. Hyatt is opening a hotel in Bharuch soon and already has presence in Thrissur, Raipur and Hampi. The future definitely looks promising and we are excited about expanding our footprint in the country,” shares Wakharkar.
Wakharkar says F&B has always been the strength at Hyatt Regency Delhi. “We have enjoyed a formidable reputation in the food and beverage space ever since the hotel opened in 1983 and have continued to be one of the market leaders which we are very proud of. We have award-winning restaurants with authentic cuisines and taste which our guests have been patronising for years. Additionally, as a leading wedding and conference venue in Delhi, the hotel is home to several innovative event spaces that redefine the approach to events held in the city,” says Wakharkar. Who would not know about the Chinese restaurant, The China Kitchen or one of the first Italian restaurants, La Piazza or even TK’s Oriental Grill?
“Being eco-friendly simply means changing your lifestyle for the betterment of the environment. Building a truly eco-friendly environment is a constant struggle faced by people, but it is just about taking some small steps to make the planet a better place for generations to come. It is about the intent of being more conscious towards making a change,” he says, adding that in an effort to reduce waste and promote sustainability, the steps undertaken at Hyatt Regency Delhi include a number of initiatives like in-house water bottling plant. On the same sustainable note, this advanced plant with UV and micron filters, guarantees pure and bacteria-free water for consumption. “Additionally, we use LED lights across the hotel, use recycled water for cooling towers and horticulture along with a solar water heating system, smart building management and energy system. Lastly, with an aim to propagate and encourage a sustainable lifestyle, we had also adopted a green transport technology measure in 2019 as a part of our sustainability initiative. 10 e-charging stations are currently available at the hotel,” he says.
Challenges for sustainable tourism
In theory, sustainable tourism seems like a goal that is attainable but practically there are several obstacles to overcome. “There is a lot that goes into making tourism sustainable as it is a nuanced subject and involves the participation of the whole community to maximise the socio-economic benefits of tourism. Even measures such as increased guest room temperature to save energy, usage of recycled water for WC, increased frequency for change of room linens and reduced water flow can be challenging as it may result to guest dissatisfaction,” Wakharkar puts in.
Keeping tourism sustainable
The General Manager at Hyatt Regency Delhi says that their goal is to work towards becoming more sustainable to ensure the environment thrives along with business. “It is a continuous process and effort of making optimal use of environmental resources and supporting the local community and requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders. It is also the responsibility of each individual to actively take actions to reduce their carbon footprint by monitoring their electricity and energy consumption, freshwater consumption and food wastage,” he says.
Enhancing guest experience
Creating a delightful guest experience is the key to cultivating loyalty amongst guests and in the hospitality industry, guest satisfaction largely depends on the quality of service and going that extra mile to ensure all guests have a superlative experience. “Care is the most important aspect for us at Hyatt and personalisation has always been the main focus for us which is why our spaces are designed with different strategies in mind to accommodate the needs of every guest, be it for business, relaxation or socialising. By capturing our guests’ preferences, likes and dislikes and catering to their needs, we provide advanced personalised care which we believe differentiates us from our competitors,” expresses the General Manager at Hyatt Regency Delhi.
“After a long and slow two years, we are seeing the hospitality industry bounce back positively. The industry is expected to grow further with an emphasis on sustainability. With the rising awareness amongst people of the harmful effects of plastic to the environment, hotels all over India have started taking steps and measures to reduce plastic in their day-to-day business. We are also looking at bulk packaging of bathroom amenities going forward. Additionally, more and more hotels are expected to open in India. At Hyatt, the team is looking to expand its footprint in India as well, with the recent additions being Hyatt Regency Dehradun and Hyatt Centric Janakpuri last month. Soon, we will see new openings in Jaipur and Bharuch,” he concludes.
This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER MAY-JUNE 2022'
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