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May-June ’16

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Editorial

Hotel Business Review

HOTEL B u s i n e s s

R e v i e w

An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry

Publisher cum Editor

Rajneesh Sharma

rajneeshhammer@gmail.com

Associate Editor

Swarnendu Biswas Resident Editor

Sharmila Chand (Delhi) Ashok Malkani (Mumbai) Layout & Design

Hari Kumar V Abhishek Singh Rathore Production Assistant

Mamta Sharma

Advertising Sales

Delhi: Debabrata Nath, Sumesh Sharma Director Sales

Sanjay Anand Mobile: +91 9811136837 Director Operations & Finance

Rajat Taneja Mobile: +91 9810315463

Editorial & Advertising Offices: Delhi:

Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 206, Samrat Bhawan, Ranjeet Nagar Commercial Complex, New Delhi-110008 Phone: 91-11-25704103, 45093486, 45084903 Mumbai:

Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 105, 1st Floor, Aarpee Centre, Gufic Compound, 11th Road, MIDC, Near Tunga Paradise, Andheri (E), Mumbai-400093, India Phone: 91-22-28395833 Telefax: 91-22-28388947

E-mail: info@hammer.co.in © 2016 Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. No article can be reproduced in part or as whole without prior permission of the Publisher. Hammer Hotel Business Review is a bi-monthly magazine, printed and published by Rajneesh Sharma on behalf of Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 206, Samrat Bhawan, Ranjeet Nagar Commercial Complex, New Delhi. Printed at Swan Press, B-71, Naraina Industrial Area, Phase-II, New Delhi-110 028. Annual Subscription rate within India is Rs. 450 and overseas US $110, for surface mail. Single issue is available for Rs. 90 in India and US $25 overseas. Cheques are payable to Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Editorial Policy : Editorial emphasis in Hammer Hotel Business Review magazine is on educational & informational material specifically designed to assist those responsible for managing instututional Hotel business. Articles are welcome and will be published on the sole discretion of the editor.

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With the growth of business travel and also leisure travel in India during the recent years, the budget hotels have emerged as an important facet of the hospitality industry. The growth in disposable incomes among our growing middle classes since the last decade has also contributed to the astonishing growth of this mid segment of hotels; comfortably positioned between a select few five-star and four-star hospitality properties on one spectrum, and the plethora of unkempt and untidy hotels, guest houses and dharmshalas on the other. The budget hotels can effectively cater to huge swathes of domestic and inbound travellers in India, who want good accommodation and facilities within reasonable budget, but who do not mind doing away with fancy luxuries that some select star-rated hotels provide. And tier-II and tier-III cities of India, especially those tier-II and tier-III cities of the country which are leisure and business travel destinations in their own right, are important emerging markets for budget hotels, which hoteliers and potential hoteliers can tap vigorously. It can be easily assumed that in the near future, budget hotels in India can improve their facilities and would give stiff competition to the five-star and four-star hotels. In fact, the potential for growth of budget hotels in India seems even more promising than the impressive reality of budget hotels in the Indian hospitality industry. However, in order to develop further, budget hotels in India should give increasing emphasis on personalisation of services, and for that guests’ feedback on a regular basis is an important element. In our Cover Story, we have discussed various facets of the growing market of budget hotels in India. The Business Story deals with sustainability of hotels, for which though there are some basic guidelines, but no clear cut formula. However, in this digital age, it is quite clear that a user-friendly website with focused content can help the hospitality properties to garner business. The use of mobile-based applications and social media are also becoming extremely important towards achieving the sustainability goals of hospitality properties. Overall, one can say that nowadays technology has emerged as a great facilitator towards guest satisfaction across hospitality properties. The Feature section explores on various promotional mechanisms for offbeat destinations of India, which together represents huge unexplored revenue earning potential for the Indian tourism and hospitality industry. The fact that housekeeping is pivotal to the success of hospitality is probed through our Housekeeping section. Our Technology section has presented some new-age developments which have the potential to radically improve guest satisfaction. A heritage property spruced with a range of modern amenities, and which affords wonderfully scenic views with eco-friendly initiatives, is being covered through our Property section. These are only some of the articles and features in this issue, which have together attempted to present a holistic view of our fast evolving hospitality industry. They are of course complemented by the rich information base of our News and Event sections. I hope our esteemed readers would find reading the issue an engrossing and yet an enjoyable and informative exercise.


HOTEL B u s i n e s s

inside

R e v i e w

An Exclusive Business Magazine for the Hotel Industry

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COVER STORY

Since the last decade, with India’s economic liberalisation gaining momentum, business travel within the country has increased by leaps and bounds, which fuelled the demand for quality and yet value for money hotels.

BUSINESS

Sustainability issues touch on nearly all aspects of hotel ownership and management. Though there are no clear, universally accepted metrics which would ensure the sustainability of the hospitality property, there are certain basic principles which one has to follow to attain a semblance of balance between the invested amount and returns on it.

FEATURE

India has a plethora of offbeat tourist destinations, which together can be construed as our nation’s latent tourism charm. They require strong and creative marketing support in order to use their relatively unexplored tourism appeal for bolstering revenues for the Indian tourism and hospitality industry.

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TECHNOLOGY

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SPA

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PROPERTY

Creating tech-enabled, personalised hotel stays have become increasingly important. These days, hoteliers are experimenting to see how technology can increase their business.

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An ideal retreat from the chaotic traffic, dust and grime and noisy crowd of the India’s capital is the Woo Wellness & Spa, located within Pullman New Delhi Aerocity.

Located in the heart of Mussoorie, WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie is a luxury property exuding a soothing old-world charm. Spread over three acres of pine forests, the property presents a seamless blend of modern five-star luxury and classic heritage architecture.

DEPARTMENTS F&B

With the increasing numbers of discerning guests with considerable awareness towards global food & beverage trends, now the role of innovation in the Indian restaurant business is perhaps more critical than it was ever before.

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News Scan

22 Appointment 50 Hygiene 52 Housekeeping 54

Product Preview

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Business Opportunity

56 Interview

Cover Pix: WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie

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Event

Hotel Business Review

India Participates in

THAIFEX-World of Food Asia 2016 The 13th edition of the food and beverage show has emerged as the largest and most impactful edition of the show yet, attracting a total of 42,528 trade visitors – a 21 percent increase from 35,205 in 2015, and 1,919 exhibitors from 40 countries

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ndia was among the 40 countries that participated in the 13th edition of THAIFEXWorld of Food Asia, in 2016 – a leading food and beverage show. PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI), in close association with Embassy of India, Bangkok, Thailand and with the support of Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, organised the India Pavilion at the food and beverage show held at IMPACT Exhibition Centre, Bangkok, from 25th-29th May. Nearly 2,000 exhibitors took part in this year’s show of which strong international representations of 955 were from Europe, North and South America, North and South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Countries like India, Chile, Indonesia, Norway and Cambodia were new to the show, leading to an increase of exhibition space totaling 80,000 sqm across seven halls. “The 13th edition was THAIFEX-World of Food Asia‘s largest and most impactful edition of the show yet, attracting a total of 42,528 trade visitors – a 21 percent increase from 35,205 in 2015, and 1,919 exhibitors from 40 countries,” the organisers said in a statement. Well-known for its trademark ‘Made in Germany’ products, Germany was at the centre of attention as THAIFEX - World of Food Asia’s 2016 partner country. “This was a proud moment for Germany. Being the official Partner Country for the 2016 edition of THAIFEX-World of Food Asia cast a spotlight on our impressive showcase of ‘Made in Germany’ products and created many opportunities to meet with potential buyers in ASEAN. This year’s show was extremely successful and we are excited to see what 2017 brings,” said Axel Wildner, Counsellor for Food and Agriculture, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bangkok.

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Asia’s Culinary Talents Shine Bright The food and beverage show is known for bringing together some of the world’s leading culinary talents. This year was no exception with the return of the highly anticipated Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge, which saw an impressive line-up of 1,046 entries from 11 countries competing head-to-head in a series of culinary tests including the new ‘Pastry & Bakery Challenge’. Hosted by Thai Chefs Association, World Association of Chef Societies (WACS) and Koelnmesse, this year saw Anucha Chuatbamrung from Impact Exhibition Management emerge victorious in the “4 Individually Western Plated Dessert” segment with the highest competition score of 94.75. “This was an exhilarating five-day event as we saw some of the world’s best culinary talents displaying their masterful skills,” Willment Leong, Organising Chairman for the Thailand Ultimate Chef Challenge said. Experts Voice From seminars and forums to business networking opportunities, THAIFEX delivered on its promise to be a leader in knowledge exchange. Now in its fourth edition, the World of Food Safety

Conference welcomed more than 100 CEOs and top management from global corporations such as Danone, Mondelez, Tesco Lotus, General Mills, Cargill Meats (Thailand), Nestle and Sakae Holdings Limited. The conference touched on various food safety topics ranging from food safety regulatory issues to traceability and contaminants. In addition, the one-day Asian Franchising Forum led by Albert Kong, CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants Pte Ltd, offered franchisors, franchisees, licensees and entrepreneurs an intensive and interactive session on the newest trends and directions of the food franchise industry. Companies present included McDonald’s Thailand, MFG Franchising and Thai Food Concepts, Food Franchise Institute, to name a few. For the first time ever, THAIFEX partnered with Innova Market Insights, the event’s official knowledge partner, to introduce THAIFEX Trend Zone. The knowledge kiosk gave visitors a venue to gather information on top consumer trends and important insights. Also new to this year’s show was the introduction of THAIFEX Trend Topics. This new category grouped all exhibitors by the respective trends which made it easier for visitors to find out what they needed, whether a product or the right partner. “We are delighted that THAIFEX-World of Food Asia recognised the hottest trends including organic. We have seen a rise in consumer demand for organic products and the Organic Supermarket gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase just that,” MikeNguyen Quoc, Rita Food & Drink Co., Ltd, said. THAIFEX – World of Food Asia is organised by Koelnmesse Pte Ltd in partnership with Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion and The Thai Chamber of Commerce.


Feel A Sensation

VENUS INDUSTRIES Mfrs. & exporters of stainless steel cutlery hotelware & lifestyle products WZ-1, Basai Road, Moti Nagar, New Delhi-110015 Tel.: (91-11) 43163300, 45061071 E-mail: v_khurana@venusindustries.in Website: www.venusindustries.in

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Event

Hotel Business Review

SIAL China 2016 Marks Record International Presence In line with its aim of offering participants a window to look deeper into the food sector, the event offered exhibitors a platform to showcase their innovative range of products

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arking its importance as Asia’s largest food innovation exhibition, SIAL China 2016 witnessed a record number of exhibitors and visitors, who thronged the 126,500 square metres of exhibition space at Shanghai New International Expo Centre from 5th-7th May. Nearly 3,000 exhibitors — a rise of 7.6 percent over last year — from 67 countries presented their latest products during the three-day event, thereby offering Asian businesses a plethora of choice to source their ingredients and also to make crucial trading decisions. The exhibitors, on the other hand, were pleasantly surprised to see this year a rise of over 25 percent visits over the 2015 edition of the show — recording a whopping 77,000 visits. The Guest Country of Honor, Poland, was represented by Agriculture and Rural Development Minister and Ambassador of Embassy of Poland. Prior to its participation in 2016, Poland pavilion has always been working closely with SIAL China to boost the Polish-Sino food and agricultural trade for years. In the 2016 edition of the show, the Poland pavilion showcased a strong representation of fine Polish food and drinks. With Gansu’s halal foods, aquatic products and other organic food products in hall E4 and its wines in hall W5, Gansu provincial pavilion came to SIAL CHINA 2016 as the Guest Province of Honor. Besides offering the professional buyers and visitors products best fitting their sourcing needs, the show also included top class events that helped participants expand their business network in the food industry. In line with its aim of offering participants a window to look deeper into the food sector, the SIAL Innovation platform at the event showcased 151 carefully selected innovative food and beverage products. Among them, the Gold Award for Innovation went to ISOLINE Trade, S.R.O. from Czech Republic for its Trojka drink; the Silver Award was awarded to Egnis Inc from Korea for its Lab

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Nosh; the Bronze Award went to Just Water International Ltd. from New Zealand for its Elite Manuka Honey Water. Endorsed by World Association of Chef Societies (WACS), La Cuisine competition at the event provided the visitors a chance to meet the famous Chefs and watch the culinary competitions. Eight teams from Austria, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Dalian competed for the championship. Each team consisted of three highly-skilled Chefs and was required to complete themed dishes on-site. After two rounds of multiple themes such as ‘health’ and ‘organic,’ the Dalian team topped all the other contestants and won the honor of ‘Top Chef.’ The Guest Country of Honor, Poland presented the cooking demonstrations with its quality food and ingredients at La Cuisine. At the Retail & Hospitality Forum, top level retail operators, consultants and experts presented talks on burning issues facing the industry. Experts from the world’s largest online and mobile marketplace Alibaba, world leading consumer product company Suntory Brewery, consultants and experts from The United Nations Office for Project Services and InterChina Consulting, REDFERN Associates and other organisations delivered speeches on important topics including food sustainability, import and export policy, food innovation, HoReCa and market trends. In the 17th edition of SIAL China, World Tour helped all the exhibitors and visitors to understand the specific characteristics of the food market by geographic area.

A total of 28 billboards were displayed featuring best-selling products and the information to define the retail strategies of different countries including, among others, India, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Russia, the United States and China. In addition, a list of top 10 retailers and top five retail trends were also displayed to identify consumption drivers. Positioned as the best wine educational event, Wine Innovation Forum at SIAL China provided visitors insights into the main international grapes varieties originated from Europe, New World and the premium regions in China. As soon as the first speaker opened the forum on May 5, this event became the spotlight in the wine sector. Master of Wine Tim Wildman was the keynote speaker for this event. He was joined by Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi, Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal and others; in 15 sessions. What is more, the 2016 edition brought more wines from the emerging New World such as Japan, India and Russia with a blend of maturity and freshness. The forum once again brought new perspectives to wine lovers on its understanding of the wine business. Other attractions at SIAL China 2016 included Best Buy China Competition — an effective platform to showcase exhibitors’ star products; Master Classes for wine lovers — with dedicated tasting room to cultivate wine lovers’ tastes for premium wines; China National Specialty Tea Brewer Cup Competition; Chocolate World Competition for Dessert Chefs; Seafood Fest; a dedicated panel discussion on supply of quality food products for both domestic and overseas markets; and of course the After SIAL Party to celebrate the success of the event with a fantastic combination of selected wines and gourmet food. SIAL China also offered match-making system that effectively helped exhibitors and visitors identify each other’s needs. There were in total 30,685 attempts of booking matchmaking meetings involving 2,702 exhibitors and 8,520 visitors in 2016. In the end, 2,019 meetings were successfully booked online, a statement by the organisers said.


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Event

Hotel Business Review

EVENTS’ CALENDER

The Right Platform for the Hospitality Industry

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mbiente India and Heimtextil India, the leading events for the interior décor and home furnishing industry in the country were held during 22nd-24th June 2016 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. In their third edition in India, the events recorded an increase in exhibition space, bringing together leading companies from India, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Japan, Korea and Russia. Total exhibition space of the 2016 edition of Ambiente India and Heimtextil India was 11,200 sq.mt. and the events together attracted 165 exhibitors. A lot of exhibitors reported to have closed deals and were overwhelmed with the visitor response at the fair. One of the central attractions at the event was the ‘Experience Zone,’ which showcased works of Indian interior decorators. Many international industry players and buyers visited the ‘Experience Zone’ and liked the Indian concepts of designs. At the show, the renowned home décor brand and the world renowned producer of upholstery and curtain fabrics, D’Décor launched its 2016 collection tailored for the Indian market. This collection is based on four exciting themes: Reflection, Plume, Ethereal and Visions. The company also announced its digital initiative, which is expected to be launched in the near future. The twin events showcased a great many products which are relevant or could be relevant for the Indian hospitality industry, like curtains, carpets, upholstery, furniture, decorative items, spa products, etc. No wonder, besides the textile and home décor fraternity, the platform also saw an impressive gathering of Purchase Managers and other decision makers from the hospitality sector. From Bangalore to Bhubaneshwar, from Chennai to Delhi to Guwahati, hospitality professionals across varied regions of India were seen visiting the fair to talk business and meet new vendors for their sourcing requirements and new projects. “Luxury amenities are a critical factor in the way hotels function and because of the huge-volume requirement we are

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FISPAL FOOD SERVICE 2016 14-17 June 2016 Expo Centre, Sao Paulo, Brazil www.fispalfoodservice.com.br MIFB 2016 17-19 June 2016 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia www.mifb.com.my Bakers Technology Fair 2016 22-24 July 2016 The Codissia Trade Fair Complex, Coimbatore www.bakerstechnologyfair.com India Hospitality Expo 4-6 August 2016 Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor AC Stadium, Panaji, Goa www.trinityworld.biz

Nicolette Naumann

constantly looking at growing our supplier base. I strongly believe that Heimtextil India and Ambiente India are perfect platforms to fill this gap. Ground-level networking with vendors from furnishings, textiles and interior décor all on one platform, facilitated good business discussions for us,” affirmed Nitin Nagrale, Founder, Hospitality Purchase Managers Forum. Second day of the fair hosted an exclusive Hospitality Day and workshop on challenges associated with procurement for hotel, restaurant and catering (HORECA) buyers. The sessions focussed on hospitality buyer‘s perspective for potential vendors and service providers pertaining to areas like availability of good quality fabrics and products, last minute sourcing and cost optimisation. According to Nicolette Naumann, the Vice-President of Ambiente, Ambiente India and Heimtextil India have great potential for the Indian hospitality industry. “With the Indian hospitality industry evolving fast to keep pace with the demands of its increasing numbers of discerning guests, I believe that in the coming years Indian hospitality industry would have greater demand for a great many upmarket products which are being showcased at this show,” she asserted. According to her, “The Indian hospitality industry would be the driving factor for the success of the Indian edition of Ambiente and Heimtextil, in the near future.”

TRAFS 2016 4-7 August 2016 Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC), Bangkok www.thailandhoreca.com Fi and Hi India 2016 22-24 August 2016 Pragati Maidan, New delhi www.foodingredientsglobal.com/india/home Asia Fruit Logistica, 2016 7-9 September 2016 Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong www.asiafruitlogistica.com Cakeology 16-18 September 2016 Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon East, Mumbai www.cakeology.in Annapoorna World of Foods India- 2016 22-24 September 2016 Hall 6 , Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumbai www.worldoffoodindia.com International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 8-11 October 2016 Las Vegas Convention Centre, Nevada, US www.ibie2016.com SIAL Paris 2016 16-20 October 2016 Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris www.sial.fr HOSTECH by Tusid 2016 2-5 November 2016 Istanbul Turkey www.hostechbytusid.com


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Four Seasons Founder is The Fern Opens New 2016 Cornell Icon of the Hotel in Bhimtal The Fern Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening Industry of a new property nestled in pristine hills of Bhimtal in In recognition of his significant contributions to the hospitality industry and a lifetime of philanthropy, America’s Cornell University School of Hotel Administration has presented Isadore “Issy” Sharp, Founder and Chairman, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, with 2016 Cornell Icon of the Industry Award. In 1961 Isadore Sharp opened the first Four Seasons, a motor hotel in Toronto, Canada. Over the last five decades, Four Seasons has grown into the world’s leading luxury hospitality company. Today, the company operates 99 hotels, resorts and branded residences in 41 countries. “Receiving this recognition is a great personal honour and, equally as important, a chance for me to celebrate the collective efforts of many,” Sharp said in a statement. Sharp is the founder of the annual Terry Fox Run — the largest single-day fundraising event for cancer research worldwide — which has raised more than $650 million to date.

Uttarakhand. Overseeing the Bhimtal Lake, The Fern Hillside Resort offers 30 spacious rooms with contemporary design, suited for both leisure and business travellers. The resort also offers a multi-cuisine restaurant, a meeting space, in-door activity options such as pool table, table tennis, board games. Located at about 30 minutes drive from Nainital Lake and a short five minutes drive from Bhimtal Lake, the resort also arranges for adventure sport activities such as rappelling, river crossing, rock climbing, kayaking, paragliding, trekking and boating.

Complete Kitchen Ventilation L.P.G./P.N.G. Pipe Line Installations Kitchen Ventilation System’s, Exhaust Hood, Scrubbers, Air Washer & Ducting Work(HVAC) etc. LPG/PNG Leakage Detection Systems ● Kitchen exhaust system including designing of air ducting, size of exhaust hood, size of ventilation blower and CFM ● Kitchen fresh air system including designing of duct size and CFM of air washer system ● LP Gas System including Gas Bank

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WelcomHeritage Opens New Property in Ahmedabad

Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru Launches New Bar-Lounge

WelcomHeritage has added a new property under its portfolio of heritage hotels in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The new property, Mani Mansion, is a 94-year-old heritage property that was once home to the Dalal family. Located on the Ashram road in the heart of the city, it is a boutique heritage hotel with 21 rooms and suites. The architecture with high ceilings and antique furniture clearly speak volumes about the rich lineage of culture associated with the city of Ahmedabad. The hotel offers a multi-cuisine restaurant serving an array of food options including authentic Gujarati cuisine prepared by Chefs who have been associated with the family for the past two generations.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru has launched a roof-top barlounge named Hype. The newest addition to already existing all-day-dining b cafĂŠ, Lobby Lounge, Yataii, Caprese, Saffron and Chinese speciality restaurant Shang Palace makes Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru one of the largest food and beverage destinations in the city. Perched on the roof of the hotel, Hype, with a split level deck, offers a panoramic view of the city. Its tailormade cocktails, an extensive international wine-by-glass menu and an array of delectable food items from across the globe could cater to eclectic tastes of guests. Sprawled over 5,220 square feet, Hype offers 130 seats with both indoor and outdoor dining facilities. The interiors are sleek and classy with glass partitions and a partial roof.

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Ajay Bakaya Honoured Keys Hotels Plans with Hotel Owner of the Aggressive Expansion Keys Hotels of Berggruen Hotels, announced its expansion Year Award plan for the future growth in the Indian market. The company Executive Director of Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, Ajay Bakaya has been awarded as the ‘Hotel Owner of the Year’ at the seventh edition of the India Hotelier Summit held in Mumbai. Hosted by IDE Consulting Services, the event offered a platform for knowledge sharing and networking for various stakeholders of the industry. “I am glad to be recognised as the Hotel Owner of the Year by IDE,” Bakaya said. “It is an exciting time for the industry with the growth back on track and travellers’ movements looking up. We look forward to continue to serve guests with the signature Sarovar hospitality offering the best of accommodation and services at value for money rates,” he noted. Sarovar Hotels currently operates over 75 hotels in India and abroad with a key size of 6000, under the brands Sarovar Premiere, Sarovar Portico, Hometel, Park Plaza, Park Inn and Radisson.

has already started aggressively in this direction with three new launches — Keys Hotels in Vishakhapatnam, Keys Hotels Malabar Gate in Calicut, and Keys Lite Om Niwas in Jaipur. While the one in Vishakhapatnam is an owned hotel the other two are franchisee hotels. The company also plans to open 8-10 new management contract hotels in the next 12-18 months by adopting assest light strategy. “Keys Hotels is committed to expand its footprint across smart cities and we will adopt assest light strategy to support this growth. We are pleased to launch three new hotels as a part of this expansion plan. Calicut, Vizag and Jaipur are very important markets for us as all three cities are attracting a large volume of tourists and business travellers,” Anshu Sarin, CEO, Berggruen Hotels, said. “Apart from these cities we are looking to be present in major smart cities of India, and we have aligned our growth plans accordingly,” Sarin noted.

ITDC Posts Profit for the Fourth Consecutive Year Recently awarded with ‘Fastest Growing Mini Ratna PSU’ award for 2015; India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Ltd., the public sector undertaking under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism, posted a strong performance yet again for the financial year 2015-16. Posting profit for the fourth consecutive year, the corporation recorded a turnover of Rs.465.69 crore whereas, Profit Before Tax (PBT) stood at Rs.32.42 crore and Profit After Tax (PAT) was recorded at Rs.22.55 crore. This was announced in the Board Meeting of the company held on May 30 at the group’s flagship hotel, The Ashok, New Delhi. “FY 2015-16 has been a motivating year for ITDC. The profit is the result of several proactive initiatives taken by the organisation to improve productivity and efficiency at the beginning of the year,” said Umang Narula, Chairman & Managing Director, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Ltd. “Besides posting continuous profit year after year, ITDC has maintained its status of Mini Ratna and its commitment towards the shareholders through announcing consistent dividends for last three consecutive years,” Narula added. All three Delhi-based hotels of the corporation — The Ashok, Samrat and Janpath, showed very good performance and clocked net profits. Hotel Patliputra Ashok, Patna and Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore also made profit. Other hotels of the corporation also showed improved performance during the year.

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Hotel Business Review

Sarovar Hotels Forays into South Sudan Sarovar Hotels recently announced its foray into yet another international market as it takes over the management of The Panorama hotel in the capital city of the Republic of South Sudan. Now rebranded as The Panorama Sarovar Portico, Juba, it is Sarovar Hotels’ fourth operational hotel in Africa. The other three African hotels that the group currently manages are The Heron Portico in Nairobi, The New Africa Hotel in Dar-Es-Salaam – Tanzania, and The Zehneria Portico in Nairobi. “We are very excited to be setting our footprints to another new destination in the African region. We see immense growth potential in this market with high demand and good occupancies in most hotels,” said Ajay Bakaya, Executive Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts. “This is major step in our growth and expansion strategy and we are looking to operate 10 hotels in Africa in the next five years,” Bakaya observed.

New Property in Uttarakhand Continuing its aggressive expansion mode, Sarovar Hotels announced the launch of Seyfert Sarovar Portico, Dehradun, a contemporary and upscale hotel strategically located just off the hustle and bustle of the city. With this brand new and elegant hotel, the group brings to travellers to the city a choice of quality accommodation and services for both business as well as leisure. The hotel was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat in the presence of Ajay Bakaya, Executive Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, and Rahul Saxena, General Manager, Seyfert Sarovar Portico, Dehradun. The hotel has 68 rooms offering modern amenities and personalised service, business and conferencing facilities, in-room dining, fitness centre, swimming pool, and all day dining multi-cuisine restaurant. “I am very glad to inaugurate this hotel that brings a new level of hospitality services to our city. Dehradun is the gateway to numerous pilgrimage and tourist destinations in the upper and lower Himalayas, and I believe this hotel will be immensely beneficial to people travelling through this route as well as to the locals here with the excellent F&B and banquet services on offer,” Rawat said in a Sarovar Hotels’ press release. Located close to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, bus stand and railway station, the hotel is conveniently accessible to guests.

Sealed Air Launches Novel Hygiene Initiative Sealed Air Corporation, engaged in the business of food packaging and food safety, cleaning and hygiene solutions launched a programme named ‘Soap for Hope,’ in India, in association with Mumbai-based NGO Doctors for You. This innovative program is pioneered by Sealed Air to recycle used hotel soaps into fresh soap for distribution to local communities. In Mumbai, a joint workshop held by Sealed Air and Doctors For You provided a step-by-step demonstration of the soap-recycling process and potential partner hotels had been invited to join the event. “Soap for Hope is a real example of creating shared value for all parties involved – our customers, the NGOs, the local communities and Sealed Air employees. Every party plays a critical role and has embraced the Soap for Hope program enthusiastically,” said Himanshu Jain, MD and VP, Sealed Air — Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. After having launched and implemented this program in 62 cities and 27countries together with 249 partner hotels, Sealed Air India has now launched this sustainable  initiative in India that aims to reach out to millions of families. The company aims to reach out to underprivileged communities across the country, using its pan india reach. 16

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Hotel Business Review

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MBD Group to Bring Steigenberger Hotel Group to India MBD Group and Steigenberger Hotel Group recently announced a joint venture to manage and franchise hotels within the Indian territory, under the brand MBD STEIGENBERGER. MBD Group will have a 51 percent stake while Steigenberger Hotel Group will hold a 49 percent stake in the joint venture company. Here it deserves a mention that Steigenberger Hotel Group is a renowned German chain of hotels and resorts. Management of the joint venture company would be in the hands of the MBD Group, which would be looking after the India wide operations of the brand including business development, management and franchising of hotels, pre-opening and post-opening assistance, etc wherein Steigenberger would be providing international sales and marketing support, and the training and brand standards to be deployed in the Indian region to suit the expectations of luxury travellers. The joint venture would target to open at least 20 hotels in India over the next 15 years with projected annual revenue of hotels under management and/or franchise of nearly Rs. 2000 crore.  MBD Steigenberger brand, in-line with the international positioning of the Steigenberger brand, shall be positioned to target the luxury segment in India. The flagship hotel under the

JV will be MBD Zephyr Bangalore, offering 184 rooms and 118 service apartments.  Commenting on the partnership, Sonica Malhotra, Managing Director of the joint venture and Joint Managing Director of the MBD Group, said, “We are extremely proud to announce our association with Steigenberger Hotel Group. The association will ensure that German excellence joins hands with the warmth of Indian hospitality, providing the next level of experience to our guests across the country. We will be focusing on key cities in the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Goa, Kolkata, Pune, Indore, and other cities where we want to come up with luxury hotels and cater to the crème de la crème.“  Puneet Chhatwal, CEO, Steigenberger Hotel Group affirmed, “We are extremely honoured to associate with our appreciated partner MBD and become a part of the Indian hotel landscape. This is an important milestone in our history of international growth. As a company with German roots, Steigenberger Hotel Group enjoys a good reputation worldwide. Our brand represents excellence, perfection and a wealth of tradition. We are very excited to bring our hospitality to the Indian market.”

MBD Privé Collection Launched Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida has launched its allnew MBD Privé Collection in the recent past, which offers a high level of luxury and comfort. The synergy of exquisite craftsmanship and modern engineering is expected to make the MBD Privé Collection a unique address for discerning tourists and travellers in Delhi-NCR.   The MBD Prive Collection set of rooms has been designed in the best of Venetian and French traditions. The decorative scheme of these rooms encapsulates centuries with styles alternating between those from the Victorian to the most contemporary. Here each furniture piece is bespoke and finished meticulously with gold carvings that date back to the 1800s. All the decorative lights, including goosenecks, table lamps, chandeliers and standing lamps of these rooms are hand-picked for their unique character and presence to heighten the elegance of the elaborately designed rooms.   Rich fabrics, high beds with footstools, elegant bathroom fittings, modern amenities and neoclassical carpets are other features of the MBD Prive Collection. The detailed craftsmanship in ceilings and walls creates interesting design elements at the 21 rooms of the MBD Privé Collection, which are located on the second floor of the classy hotel. 18

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Golden Tulip Salt Lake Hotel, Kolkata, Launched Golden Tulip Hotels South Asia has announced the launch of its first property in the eastern region of India. “It is a proud moment for our team to announce the launch of our new property in Kolkata,” said Vimal Singh, Managing Director, Golden Tulip Hotels South Asia. “Golden Tulip is located in the Salt Lake City, which is an IT hub hence it is designed with amenities to cater to corporate travellers as well as to host business events. In addition to corporate guests, the property also serves as an ideal weekend gateway with offerings for leisure,” Singh said.

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Chototel Chooses India For an Innovative Project Chototel, a London-based technology start-up has chosen India to set up its pilot ‘super-budget’ hotel.  Hotel tariffs would start at Rs 100/day and would offer uninterrupted electricity, water, gas and social infrastructure including daycare, infirmaries & community kitchen and gardens. Through a diverse array of Internet-Of-Things, closed loop, real-time cash transfer, digital health and Big Data technologies, the project would be able to deliver efficiencies from construction through to hotel operations and maintenance.  The first project has already broken ground and construction is underway in Nagothane, an industrial town, 70 kilometres south of Mumbai, on the new Mumbai-Goa expressway. The 240-room development would cater to 1,000 guests and is spread across 1.5 acres and 75,000 square feet of constructed area.  Chototel is currently in the process of acquiring land in Chakan, Goa and Gujarat for its next round of projects in India. The company aims to build 100,000 rooms in the next five years in the Mumbai-Pune-Goa corridor. “The Chototel project is a technological super machine. We use innovative technologies to build, operate and manage in a way that helps us keep costs low and efficiencies high. We are committed to making India the cornerstone of our market entry strategy,” Rhea Silva, Managing Director, Chototel, disclosed.

Treebo Hotels Launches ‘Bumblebee’ App for Hotel Partners Treebo Group of Hotels, a Bangalore-based chain of budget hotels, recently launched a tablet-based property management system for their hotel partners. Called ‘Bumblebee’, the app could be used by property managers to manage all tasks related to hotel operations, including check-ins, check-outs, new reservations, room assignments, payments, fulfilling guest preferences, billing for F&B and laundry, among others. “This is the first-ever, stand-alone tablet app for hotel managers. And it is a big shift away from desktop based systems, which are often too complex and time consuming,” said Kadam Jeet Jain, Co-founder and Head of Technology and Products, Treebo Hotels. “This app helps us crash our check-in times, for example, to less than three minutes, when in traditional set-ups it would take 15-20 minutes. Besides, it also helps keep the hotel data safer as the system can be accessed from hotel premises only,” Jain said. Treebo works with carefully selected hotels on a franchise model. 20

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Hotel Business Review

Sachin Malhotra Grand Mercure Mysuru, part of leading hotel operator AccorHotels, has appointed Sachin Malhotra as General Manager. Malhotra brings with him 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry with specialisation in hotel operations. He has an avid interest in food and beverage. Prior to this appointment, Malhotra worked with Mercure Lavasa and Lavasa International Convention Centre as Hotel Manager and has successfully held executive positions across AccorHotels’ properties for over six years. He holds a diploma in Business Administration & Marketing and also The India Leadership Development Program (ILDP) certificate by Accor Hotels.

of excellence. His career began with ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton & Towers, Mumbai following which he moved to Britain. He also assisted the Michelin Star Chef Darren Rowe during his tenure at Crowne Plaza, Birmingham. Brands such as Hilton, Starwood Hotel & Resorts, and Marriott also add to his successful career stints. “With a wealth of experience in food and beverage management and the culinary arts, I am excited to offer unparalleled dining experience to this city. My mantra is value for money, constant innovation, consistent quality and great flavour. I hope to further enhance the impressive array of food and beverage offerings at the Grand Mercure, Mysuru,” Chef Mukul said. During the course of his expansive career, he also conceptualised and managed food festivals and festive promotions like Goan, Punjabi, Maharashtrian, Mejwani thali, Italian, Mexican, Awadhi and Barbeque grill among others.

Rahul Saxena Sarovar Hotels & Resorts has appointed Rahul Saxena as General Manager of Seyfert Sarovar Portico, Dehradun. A dynamic professional with over 20 years of experience, Saxena brings with him a strong background in hotel operations, food & beverage operations, quality compliance, costing & budgeting, sales & marketing, client servicing, credit control and training & development. Highly goal-oriented and result-driven, Saxena’s previous assignments include roles as General Manager at Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Ahmedabad and General Manager of Sales & Marketing with Hotel Parkland New Delhi and Jaypee Group of Hotels.

Andreas Streiber

Mukul Jha Grand Mercure Mysuru recently announced the appointment of Mukul Jha as Executive Chef. He will be responsible for overseeing all of the operations of the hotel’s outstanding culinary offerings at its four restaurants and bars. With 14 years of culinary experience in five-star hotels and luxury hotels across India and Britain, Chef Mukul will lead the team at Grand Mercure Mysuru in taking quality cuisine into the next level

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Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru has announced the appointment of Andreas Streiber as the General Manager. Streiber, a native of Germany, brings with him over 32 years of hospitality, operational and management experience and has spent the past 10 years in senior management positions at several reputed international companies across the world. “Since its opening few months ago in Bengaluru, Shangri-La has become one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. I am excited to join the hotel and look forward to leading the exceptional team, and to welcoming guests to experience the incredible culture that Bengaluru has to offer,” Streiber said on his appointment. A seasoned hotelier, Streiber previously served as opening General Manager at Shangri-La Hotel, Qinhuangdao, from 2014-2016. He joined the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group as the Director of Food and Beverage at Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou, in 2002. In Asia, he has worked with six Shangri-La group properties before his present tenure.

Namit Bhavsar Namit Bhavsar has been appointed as the new Director of Sales and Marketing for Novotel Imagica Khopoli. Novotel is the mid-scale hotel brand of AccorHotels. In his new role, Bhavsar will be responsible for leading and further improving all aspects of the sales, social and digital marketing communications, promoting brand strategies and providing the best of Novotel Imagica hospitality experience to the guests.


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A seasoned hotelier, Bhavsar has been in the hospitality industry for over eight years. Prior to joining AccorHotels, he served as Associate Director of Sales at The St. Regis, Mumbai.

Spanish and Mediterranean preparations. Bhatt has around two decades of experience in the hospitality industry and has worked with eminent hotel brands in India and abroad. Until recently, he was working as Executive Chef with Shangri-La Hotel, Suzhou, China.

Shyam Chaudhary Leisure Inn West Gurgaon recently announced the appointment of Shyam Chaudhary as the General Manager. In his new role, Chaudhary will be responsible for all aspects of short and long-term planning and preparation of the marketing policies, procedures, relevant legislations, overall operations and the annual budget pertaining to the hotel. Leisure Inn is a mid-scale brand of StayWell Hospitality Group offering value-for-money accommodation with modern facilities. Chaudhary brings with him 14 years of experience in the hospitality industry. A graduate from IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) Bhopal, Chaudhary is a travel enthusiast and an avid sportsperson.

Manoj Dev Manoj Dev has been appointed as the General Manager of Shraddha Sarovar Portico, Shirdi, Maharashtra. Dev brings with him about two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. Some of his previous assignments include roles as Managing Partner, Chakla Belan, Dubai; Managing Partner, The Palace Belvedere, Nainital; General Manager, Vikram Vantage Inn, Nainital; General Manager, Pine Retreat, Mussoorie and Quality Inn Presidency, Kochi.

Ameet Wagh Vivek Bhatt The 523-room JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity has appointed Vivek Bhatt as Executive Chef for its F&B Culinary department. Bhatt’s core responsibility comprises grooming and development of the culinary team members of the hotel; menu curation and product development; and ensuring highest standards in hygiene and quality of the food served at the hotel. He has an avid passion for cooking with a flair for

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Sarovar Hotels has appointed Ameet Wagh as General Manager of Sales (West). Wagh brings with him over 18 years of experience in sales and marketing in the hospitality industry. Prior to the current appointment, he was associated with Sun-nSand Hotels as Corporate Head of Sales & Marketing. An alumnus of the R. A. Podar College of Commerce and Economics, Wagh began his career with Sterling Holiday Resorts India, after which he went on to work with Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Intercontinental The Grand Mumbai, and Intercontinental Marine Drive.

New Team Takes Charge at The Ashok, New Delhi India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has recently announced a new team to head various divisions of its flagship hotel, The Ashok, New Delhi. The new General Manager of the hotel is Vijay Dutt. With 28 years of extensive experience, Dutt brings a wealth of industry knowledge in the luxury hotel Vijay Dutt segment. In his previous roles he held several senior management positions including as General Manager, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore and Resident Manager of The Ashok. Anmol Zutshi has been appointed as the new Resident Manager of the hotel. An MBA in marketing, Zutshi too has 28 years of experience in the hospitality space. Zutshi has previously served as a General Manager, Hyderabad House, the official venue for hosting visiting Heads of Government and State by the Prime Minister of India. He has successfully handled the visits of world leaders like the US President, Barack Obama, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the French President, Anmol Zutshi François Hollande, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin and other dignitaries and official delegations. During his earlier stint at The Ashok, Zutshi was instrumental in commissioning of F&B outlets under the PPP module at The Ashok, setting a trend of opening such F&B outlets. Under his stewardship as Banquet Manager, The Ashok was conferred with ‘National Tourism Award’ under ‘Best Convention Centre’ category for 2009-2010. Advertising and Culture divisions at The Ashok, New Delhi have also got a new head in Rajiv Anand. He brings with him experience of over 25 years in which he has worked at various positions in different divisions of ITDC like Rajiv Anand marketing and hotel sales, duty free trade, corporate services, and tours and travels. As General Manager, Ashok Tours and Travel (ATT), Anand had been instrumental in the launch of ITDC travel portal and it was during his tenure that ATT forayed into cargo operations along with the launch of ATT travel portal.


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Cover Story

Budget Hotels Reflecting Impressive Future

Taking a break from the daily grind, and travelling has become a global phenomenon. India is also not immune from this trend. Probably the growing interest and incidences of business and leisure travel in India over the years has contributed to the growth in demand and consequently, to the supply of budget hotels in the country. Ashok Malkani takes a look at the growing popularity of budget accommodation brands in the country, which have gained credibility and recognition through their offering of value, convenience and flexibility within the realms of affordability. 26

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ince the last decade, with India’s economic liberalisation gaining momentum, business travel within the country has increased by leaps and bounds, which fuelled the demand for quality and yet value for money hotels. The significant increase in disposable incomes among select pockets of middle class society but sizeable numbers of people, along with growing interest for travel in the middle class Indian society, also facilitated the demand for budget hotels in India. It thus is no surprise that the hospitality industry of India has witnessed a steady growth of budget hotels segment over the past few years. Branded/chain of budget hotels have been mainly responsible for igniting the growth of this sector, which has been fuelled by the drastic, almost unrealistic pricing that these chains have introduced. “This segment has witnessed a steady growth rate over the last decade as more and more domestic tourists have begun to holiday more than ever before,” stated Bharat Malkani, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), and Managing Director, Hotel Transit. “However, I may hasten to add that the last few years haven’t been the best for the Indian hotel industry. In fact, because of the economic slowdown, and poor tourism infrastructure and policies, the overall growth has got stifled, including growth for the hotels in the

budget segment,” he added further.

The Online Wave According to a report by Google India, the growth of branded budget hotel chains has been mainly driven by online booking. There is scope for further rise of the popularity of budget hotels in the country, what with over 300 million Indians online. Internet users in the country are lapping up the budget hotels online. Branded budget hotel queries in India are growing at 179 percent year over year (YoY) in comparison to just 36 percent YOY growth in generic budget hotel queries. “Newer players in the segment have

energised the travel vertical by unlocking a brand new inventory online. They have been quick to capitalise on the online demand with aggressive advertising spends in building their brands, which is leading to overall category growth for the industry,” said Director Sales of Google India, Vikas Agnihotri. “We expect this segment to continue to see massive growth with leisure travel expected to pick up,” he added.

Facilities and Target Group “Even star hotels are entering the budget segment because there is demand for it and it is a matter of cutting down on certain services but not at the cost of quality of services,” stated Malkani.

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According to Malkani, “Budget hotels are hotels which have agreed to scale down certain non-essential services to reduce cost.” “There are two key factors which have contributed to star hotels in India entering the budget segment. One is the impressive demand for budget hotels in tier I, II and III cities of the country and the second is their low operational cost,” concurred Rajib Das – Operations Manager, The Fern Residency, Pune. “Budget hotels are one of the fastest growing segments in the Indian hospitality industry, and one can hope to see it growing further due to increase in demand,” opined Das. “Budget hotels are essentially a no-frills stay experience and are for those who expect clean linens, comfortable beds and hygienic washrooms as most basic facilities from hotels. Other than this, budget hotels may extend services such as wake up calls, laundry, wi-fi, toiletries which are a default in many star hotels. Star hotels are fancy and are more inclined to meet the taste of those who may want a regal stay experience,” averred Malkani. “Good hotel facilities such as comfortable rooms with ACs, a multicuisine restaurant, room service, wi-fi, etc. are offered at these budget hotels. Other additional facilities required are made available on demand at additional costs,” explained Das. “These hotels offer basic amenities like bed and breakfast, wi-fi and clean rooms with hot/cold running water, and also an information desk,” proffered Sunil Bhatia, Director, Sales & Marketing at The Mirador Hotel Mumbai. “Budget hotels in India attract students, individual business travellers, and also mid category corporates who

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Bharat Malkani

do have a slab wise requirement to put up their employees. Airlines also opt for budget hotels for their internal and guest requirements,” averred Bhatia. No wonder budget hotels in India are upbeat about their increasing demand. “Budget hotels are popular in the domestic market and slowly catching pace among inbound traffic too,” affirmed Das. As per industry estimates, the inventory in the budget hotel space in the country is expected to grow further with both new and existing players expected to bring up to 10,000 new rooms online this year. “There is ample scope for this segment to grow in India. We already have hundreds of budget hotels outside railway stations and interstate bus terminals. They are also there in central business districts, beaches, places of pilgrimage, etc. They just need to concentrate on quality and pricing and they are likely to do well,” affirmed Bhatia. “Budget hotels are more popular with domestic travellers in India. With

international tourists, most of the numbers account under MICE tourism and as a trend we have seen that these travellers opt for star rated hotels. Of course, exception being those foreign tourists who come to India for the ‘roads less travelled’ experience,” pointed out Malkani. However, that does not mean that budget hotels are not popular with the inbound tourists in India. There is little doubt that budget hotels in India are finding a ready market among both domestic and inbound tourists, who are seeking economical but comfortable accommodation during their travels. However, according to Google survey, leisure destinations will be the next growth driver for branded budget hotel category as today out of the top 50 domestic destinations searched, only 30 percent of destinations represent leisure travel.

Feedback to Improve Performance Though budget hotels seem to have a promising market in the Indian hospitality industry, to take their business to the next level, the budget hotel brands need to implement stringent quality standards and focus on the guest experience on a more personalised basis. Some of the hotel guests feel that one notable advantage, besides the price factor, of the budget hotels in India is the personalised services offered in these hotels. As these hotels often contain less rooms compared to the luxury hotels, the guests here are also comparatively less in numbers, which in turn, facilitates the owners to attend each of their guests separately and personally. With greater personalisation of services, an ordinary budget hotel can graduate to a boutique budget hotel. One of the ways the service standards can be enhanced is through continual feedback from guests. “Taking feedback from guests is a healthy practice that helps the hotel to improvise on the areas that needs improvement. We, at Hotel Transit, too follow this practice and invite guests to give their honest feedback and point out if there is indeed some shortfall or unintended negligence by us,” asserted Malkani. Das concedes that there are some shortcomings in the budget hotels in India. “These are mainly due to the limited service offered by budget hotels. To solve these shortcomings, we take our guest


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feedback. We constantly monitor the feedback from various channels and try to incorporate those feasible suggestions into our services and products,” Das affirmed. Bhatia too believes that feedback from guests is best way to improve the performance of the hotel. “We take feedback from every guest, when she/he is checking out and discuss the same every morning with the relevant department heads in the presence of the hotel owners. Action is taken thereafter to improve the guests’ future visits,” he disclosed.

In Chain or Stand-alone? During the recent years, the comparative advantages between branded hotel chains and stand-alone hotels have become interesting topics of discussion in the Indian hospitality industry. This discussion also includes budget hotels. It is seen that companies with a chain of hotels under its ambit do often standardise services and quality parameters in operations and management. “Branded hotel chains help in instilling brand loyalty among customers because they know that the hotel chain will provide the same quality of stay irrespective of the locations. This is a

value add and helps in repeat business. This may be the only distinct advantage that I can perceive for budget hotel chains over independent budget hotels,” conveyed Malkani. “The branded budget hotel chains also have a distinct advantage as they give you multi city presence and larger reach,” proffered Das. Bhatia feels that branded chain of hotels do have some advantage due to their loyalty plans. “But,” he added, “Today’s generation don’t mind being a little explorative, and adventurous and in trying non branded hotels. They can see reviews on TripAdvisor and directly book over Expedia, Agoda etc. and get a good rate also.” However, there are stand-alone budget hotel operators who feel that since they are stand-alone, individual hotels, they don’t have to follow fixed practices, procedures and policies. They have the flexibility to follow a customised approach which can be sometimes more effective than the operations of a hotel chain running everything by a manual.

Recession and Potential But whether it is a chain of budget hotels or an independent budget hotel,

recession which has adversely affected the performance of the Indian hotel industry in general, has also affected the budget hotels. Though this is the general opinion, Das does not agree with it. “In my view there has been positive effect of recession on this segment, as business travellers, FIT and organisations are looking for budget hotels to cut their cost,” he observed. Now in the aftermath of recession, when the Indian hospitality industry is going through a recovery phase, the trend of budget hotels is expected to be going through a boom of sorts in the country. Budget hotels in the country are also getting standardised. And with domestic tourism growing appreciably, the scenario for budget hotels seems bright in India. “There are opportunities galore for the growth of budget hotels in the country. In fact, a recent circular by the Union Ministry of Tourism suggesting that homestays are a way to bridge the acute room deficit is an indication that tourists are in need of affordable or economical stays in India. Unfortunately, homestays are not the answer to this deficiency but better licencing policies, tangible regulations for the Indian hotel industry will more than satisfactorily address this concern. If red tapism is curbed and infrastructure improved then budget hotels could become the next big segment for the Indian hospitality industry,” opined Malkani. Das feels that there is good scope for the growth of budget hotels in tier II and III cities of India. “The segment is growing at good pace; tier II and III cities in India are now attracting more travellers and tourists than ever before,” expressed Das.

Booking Pattern Since budget hotels have to restrain expenses, they have to rely more on online booking and publicity through social media and travel websites. Not 30

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Cover Story surprisingly, a wide variety of sources and/ or tips from social websites are keys to the bookings of these budget hotels. “Ours is a boutique hotel and offers booking through online as well as offline means including booking over the phone or via agencies or even on arrival (if available). This in fact applies to almost all hotels. Even government accommodations today can be booked online,” stated Malkani. “We get bookings through multi channels — website, OTAs, direct sales, GDS, walkins,” confirmed Das. “Being a business hotel, our booking is mostly through corporate contracting and through bookings done via mail. Travel agents are also there, however there has been a perceptible shift to the OTAs or online travel agents,” noted Bhatia. In this age of increased extent of social networking among consumers and the growing influence of social media sites such as TripAdvisor, Kayak, Expedia and Yelp, it has become a business necessity for budget hotels to use social media for furthering their business interests.

Hotel Business Review

Rajib Das

These channels can be creatively used for low-cost, high-impact marketing and service initiatives. These initiatives can dramatically increase customer engagement with the brand, enhance customer satisfaction and improve customer retention rates. So would just promoting the budget hotels on the social media be sufficient to promote them is a question that arises. Malkani feels that there is more to it

than just social media. The government too could play a constructive part. He stated, “A revision in the policies by the government will make the biggest difference to the Indian hotel industry including that of promoting budget hotels. Standardising the tax structures, abolishing archaic policies and duplication of licences, implementation of single window clearances for existing and new licences and renewal frequency among other things will improve the future course for the industry to a large extent. Not that the government has not expressed the will to boost tourism and though implementation of some important policy changes is taking place they are happening at slow pace. These changes, when they come into action, could actually prove to be a boon for the sector,” elaborated Malkani. Das on the other hand, feels, “More awareness on digital front is required. Additionally, the hotel promotion bodies / associations should promote this segment by single window clearance for small projects/ hotels.” n

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Facilitating Sustainability in

Hospitality There has been a growing awareness among hoteliers as well as among other investors in the country about different issues impacting the sustainability of hotels. There are multiple factors which influence the working of a hotel and in making it a viable business proposition. Sustainability issues touch on nearly all aspects of hotel ownership and management. Though there are no clear, universally accepted metrics which would ensure the sustainability of the hospitality property, there are certain basic principles which one has to follow to attain a semblance of balance between the invested amount and returns on it. Ashok Malkani takes a look at some of the issues which could help in the hotel achieving a decent ROI (Return on Investment).

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ustainability of a hotel is of prime importance for a hospitality entrepreneur. Why are some hotels able to offer their guests phenomenal experience, which induces the guests to become their regular clients, while others provide a mediocre experience which creates an unimpressive opinion of the property? How does one get the guests to come to your hotel, and how can guests be converted into repeat guests? What are the factors that attract a guest to the hotel? These are the questions that are challenging

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and would continue to challenge the hoteliers in the future.

Being Accessible One of the crucial reasons behind the success of the hotel is its General Manager. Ideally, they should be on the move to become aware of the problems of the guests. “Sitting behind a fortified wooden door with a head deep in e-mails all day can lead to the death of your hotel. The vibrancy in the hotel can only be achieved if you are constantly in touch with the guests to know about any issues they are

facing or if there are any shortcomings in the services,” pointed out Saeid Heidari, General Manager, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, while adding, “To know about any issues or shortcomings as compared to the expectations of the guests one has to be accessible to them.” “There are a great many guests who love to see the hotel’s Manager taking time out of his/her busy schedule and drop by to chat with them. They of course don’t want you hovering around them all the time but they do want to get the feel that you are accessible. It’s time consuming but well


Business worth it because it allows you to gain important and invaluable feedback from your customers. Relating to your guests can also act as a great testimonial on social media travel and blogging sites, where guests love to report to their friends how wonderful, friendly and efficient the Manager was during their stay,” concurred Sahdev Mehta, General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Sahdev Mehta Hotel Pune – Chinchwad. Giving personal attention to guests is one sure way of keeping them happy. “It is all about making your guests feel valued and establishing an emotional connection with them by offering personalised touches. You also need to be aware of their likes and dislikes. This can be done by keeping notes of their preferences and dislikes,” said Mehta.

The Right Content Content is considered to be the most important aspect of a website. According to EnVeritas, an international content marketing agency, it is important for individual hotels and hotel groups to establish and maintain a competitive advantage in their marketing efforts, as travel and tourism space remains extremely competitive. Successful content marketers develop an integrated content strategy that focuses on the user experience. The hotel’s website should not only be as eye catching as possible but should use engaging headlines and illustrations, at least for the landing page. Some of the useful tips for developing content for hotels’ website/s are given below: Know Your Reader: Before considering content for a hotel’s website or for its social media channel you need to identify very clearly your target guests. You then need to take that knowledge and actively generate content that appeals to the identified target groups. “Before a guest arrives at our hotel, we scan the social media profile of the guest to understand her/his likes and dislikes. We also do a lot of data analytics to bring guests back to our hotel,” disclosed Ashish Khanna, Assistant Vice-President for IT, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. Set Content Marketing Goals: Once you have determined who your target guests are, it’s important to know why you are developing content for them. What is it you hope to achieve with content developed for your website, blog, and social media channels? Is it brand recognition, customer loyalty, the ability to expose your hotel to new Rajeev Kohli

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customers and expanded demographics? Or all of them and more? The reason for generating the website content should be very clear in the hoteliers’ mind. Once the goals of your content are set, focus on them. Your content should be able to address the queries of your prospective guests. This requires understanding their beliefs, feelings, wants and needs. Get a Professional: Any of these things – copy writing, photography and videos – poorly done or done without taking into account of the above-mentioned factors, could be the death of your content marketing for hotel’s website. The content should precisely define the hotel brand. The user-friendly content should connect all of the outstanding elements of your hotel so that they tell a story both visually and verbally. Take guests on a journey through your hotel using attractive photographs and precise writing, which should together point out the hotel’s highpoints. Be Unique: If there is a unique feature of the hotel, whether it is outstanding location, exceptional customer service or world-class F&B options, those need to be highlighted intelligently through the hotel’s website so as to facilitate the hotel to stand out from the crowd. Local Area, Transportation and Activities: The first thing most travellers want to know when arriving in a new city is where they are staying in relation to the rest of the city. Help orient your guests by providing destination content about your location and providing useful information about public transportation options. The content writer for the hotel’s website should take time to research the hotel’s local area and include nearby attractions and activities to the hotel that guests can enjoy during their free time.

Ashish Khanna

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mobile experience across devices. It is critical that you manage your local presence across search engines, IYPs, aggregators, business directories, local citations, and maps,” averred Mehta.

Role of Technology

Harish Chandra

The Digital Marketing According to a study conducted by the Global Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI), guest priorities vary widely by region, country and culture. In Asia ‘Recommendation by friend’ triumphs over other factors like ‘price’ and ‘location.’ Globally, location is regarded as the primary factor that determines the hotel’s choice. It matters more to leisure guests and older travellers. ‘Price’ and ‘Past Experience’ are the next most important factors in choosing a hotel. Moreover, in this digital age, hotel’s digital marketing is likely to play an important role in the success of the property. “With our eyes on every algorithm launch and search trend, we have to design innovative strategies for online visibility, content engagement, conversion, ROI (return on investment) tracking and the user experience,” observed Heidari. Regardless of how a hotel decides to attract online traffic, the first point of contact for it these days is usually one of the key landing pages of its website. Thus an hotelier needs to follow a number of rules to ensure these pages are as effective as possible. Mobile search seems to be the mainstay of digital marketing. With Google rolling out a new ranking factor for mobilefriendly sites, it is now essential that your hotel’s website is optimised for mobile search and responsive on all mobile devices. The target is to enhance mobile traffic and ensure a robust and seamless experience with content that can be shared on social media. “Your website has to tap into the possibilities of enhanced local search.  The goal is to create optimised content and local profiles, manage quality citations and directory listings, and deliver a seamless

With technology and social media having taken giant strides it has also become necessary for hotels to develop more mobile-based applications. “We at Lemon Tree provide tablets to customers that have apps and customer service enabled in it. We had to provide gadgets for generating revenue; at the end of the day we want to enhance revenues,” informed and reasoned Ajai Kumar, Chief Information Officer, Lemon Tree Hotels. “We need to understand the demand of Gen-Y and tech-savvy travellers. During their stay in hotels, they want to keep in touch with their family back home, and they want to do it in tele-presence-based rooms or in a video-based system in the room,” Kumar pointed out. “We at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa are currently offering free Internet inroom and public areas, but in conference rooms it’s chargeable. In future, I think the Internet in conference areas might also become free. But, how will the hotel sustain this operational cost to give free Internet for guests? Our wi-fi/Internet partners need to help us in this. Until June 2012, we were charging guests for using Internet at our hotel; then we had 500 users per month. After making the in-room Internet free of charge, the user base shot up to 2,500 users per month,” elaborated Rajesh Sonar, Head of IT, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. However, Harish Chandra, the General Manager of IT, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts, is of the opinion that most of the hotels charge for Internet. “I believe there is no free lunch. In India, most of the hotels are charging for Internet as it is part of their revenue stream. Internet will be free in future when a city becomes entirely wi-fiaccessible. Internet was offered for free by few hotels to attract guests. Now, we are compelled to give it for free when the RFPs that we receive from our partners mandate that wi-fi has to be offered for free. But, we can look at tier-based bandwidth for users, for example, offer e-mail access for free and charge for usage of other content based on bandwidth. When we charge users for usage of lights in their rooms, they


Business

Ajai Kumar

will switch off at time, whereas when it is offered free, they are likely to keep it on. Similarly, when wi-fi is free at a hotel, the bandwidth gets choked. There is no single rule on how to offer free wi-fi in hotels,” he elaborated. Speaking about how technology has enabled the hospitality industry to provide efficient services for the guests, Chandra asserted, “Technology has gone a long way in making hospitality truly efficient for the customers. CCTV, tablets, wi-fi are some of the solutions which are already being used in the hospitality industry. Then, there are applications which can improve customer engagement. IPTV has opened a completely new world in hospitality.” With the creative and smart utilisation of technology, the hospitality industry can not only greatly contribute towards customer satisfaction, but can also save on operational costs. The hotels can and should provide tech-savvy guests with state-of-the-art digital technology within hotel premises. Hi-definition, crisp images and engaging interactive features will go an extra mile in attracting customers. The hotels should focus on providing customer-centric content and seamless connection to smart devices

Saeid Heidari

using latest technologies for an enjoyable guest experience. “Hotels can use technology smartly to enhance the customer experience. One way of creating a memorable first impression through the use of technology is the creation of a large video wall in the lobby area or in the bar. You could also provide in-room tablets to ensure that the guest does not need to physically switch on the lights, fans, TVs and other devices by reaching out to them. Just a button on the tablet or a single remote control should enable her/him to control all the functions in the hotel’s room,” observed Mehta.

Being Disabled-friendly The latest development in the Indian hotel industry is now its inclination to cater to the physically handicapped. While the Indian hospitality industry still has a long way to go before becoming a credible place for people with mobility issues, some progress has been made in this direction. The disabled friendliness is a new, not fully explored territory which the hotels could materialise on. This segment of the society remains a huge untapped market by the tourism service providers. A cohesive database of requirements for different disabilities and the services and facilities that cater to these diverse user groups is missing. Moreover, hospitality business is not only about tangible bottom lines but also of often intangible corporate image. The later can get an impetus if the hospitality property is perceived to be disabled friendly and is serious about its CSR initiatives. “Impairment, be it of vision, hearing or movement related, there are things we can do for each segment of the differently abled. We also must be conscious of the fact that all these issues are also related to age and one of the largest travelled groups are older people. Even though they may not be officially disabled, they often suffer from issues of lower vision and hearing or difficulty in walking,” opined Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel and Vice-President, Indian Association of Tour Operators. Besides, ramps, signages and rooms that are more friendly to differently abled people could possibly provide more numbers of differently abled segment of visitors to the hotels, which in turn could n add to the hotels’ revenues.

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SERVING THE INDUSTRY FOR OVER 2 DECADES


Feature

Hotel Business Review

Giving Prominence to Offbeat India By Swarnendu Biswas

I

ndia has a plethora of offbeat tourist destinations, which together can be construed as our nation’s latent tourism charm. They require strong and creative marketing support in order to use their relatively unexplored tourism appeal for bolstering revenues for the Indian tourism and hospitality industry. For the seasoned and intrepid domestic and inbound tourists who are looking for an experience that is beyond the realms of ordinary, the offbeat and lesser known India could be an attractive option, provided it is marketed intelligently by the governments and the industry at large.

Lesser Known Attractions Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh, located just 26 km from Dalhousie, dubbed as the mini Switzerland of India, is a place where you can lose yourself to find your ‘self’ amidst the verdant serenity of the Deodar forests, hills, lakes and meadows. But it is unfortunate that much less numbers of domestic tourists in India know about this destination than they know about Switzerland. Or how many know about Kausani, a quant hill station in Uttarakhand, which is set amidst dense pine forests, with valleys on either side? From here you can get glimpses of various snow-clad majestic peaks of Himalayas. Then there is the pristine Nubra Valley with its orchards and monasteries, surrounded by Himalayan ranges, located in the confluence of Shyok and Sizchen rivers, just 150 km from Ladakh; Ganapatipule, an idyllic village by the sea on the Konkan coast, located 375 km from Mumbai, where religious resonance matches nature’s breathtaking beauty; Digha, a scenic sea resort located 187 km away from Kolkata, where the Bay of Bengal can be marveled at one of its turbulent best forms; Majuli in Assam — the largest fresh water mid-river 36

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deltaic island in the world, which besides its rich bio-diversity is also an important seat of neo-Vaishnavite culture; Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh with its Tawang Monastery(which happens to be the largest monastery in India), Gorichen Peak with its 22,500 feet height, and its breathtakingly beautiful landscape; the Magnetic Hill of Ladakh; the dream like Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttrakhand, the wild beauty of Sunderbans…in fact the appeal of the relatively less explored India can make for exploration of a lifetime. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that almost the entire north-east India, with its wonderful natural beauty and rich tribal traditions is largely overlooked by the Indian tourists.

Dismal Tourism Infrastructure Now the question is how the Indian tourism and hospitality industry and our Union and the state governments can promote the offbeat India among the tourists in India? There are many ways to attain this objective. One of them is to drastically improve the quality of tourism infrastructure, an issue which is relevant to India’s tourism and hospitality industry in general, and is very much relevant to the north-east India in particular. Developing the tourism infrastructure in the less explored north-east India through publicprivate partnerships is the need of the hour. For example, the island of Majuli doesn’t have any luxury hotel to speak of and it is accessible only through ferries. However, in February of this year, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, laid the foundation of a bridge over the Brahmaputra for connecting Jorhat and Lakhimpur via Majuli. If the project becomes a reality the tourism infrastructure to and from Majuli would receive its much deserved impetus, which in turn can give

rise to tourist inflows in this fascinating river island. Then the state of Sikkim doesn’t have an operational airport till date. The first airport in this landlocked state is expected to become operational from December 2016. The airport will come up at Pakyong, which located just 35 km from the state’s capital, Gangtok. The coming up of this airport can give a great boost to the tourism of this state, endowed with enchanting natural beauty. The other north-east states also don’t fare much better in terms of connectivity, which is a crucial factor for tourism and hospitality industry to thrive. The railway infrastructure in north-east India is absolutely pathetic. However, some improvements in this direction have taken place during the recent years. The broad gauge railway connectivity between Tripura and rest of India began only on 6th May 2016! Meghalya, which is often compared to Scotland in terms of its picturesque scenery, has a single operational railway station at present, at Mendipathar. Excluding Mendipathar railway station, which became operational only in November 2014, Guwahati in Assam has the nearest major railway station which can connect Meghalaya to the rest of the country through a broad gauge track network. As recently as February 2015, Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, got connected through Indian Railways’ network with New Delhi. Plans are on to eventually extend this railway connectivity from New Delhi to Naharlagun railway station (located just 10 km from Itanagar) to Tawang, which lies near the border of China.. It would surprise many of us that Arunachal Pradesh got its first railway line as late as late 2013. Here it deserves a mention that Arunachal Pradesh is home to rare animals and birds


Feature and has a number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The state probably has the highest diversity of mammal’s population in the country. Better connectivity to the state can lead to growth in wildlife tourism in Arunachal Pradesh and hence could lead to a significant betterment in the state’s hospitality infrastructure.

Holistic Campaigns But simply improving India’s tourism infrastructure wouldn’t do. The Union Ministry of Tourism and the Indian hospitality industry should give a fillip to their endeavour to promote the offbeat destinations of the country. At the same time, the states’ and the Union Territories’ tourism departments/ boards/corporations should also begin aggressively promoting the offbeat destinations in their respective states and Union Territories, if they had not done so already. Ideally, all the states and Union Territories in India should develop a niche budget within their tourism budget, which should be exclusively channelised for promoting their respective offbeat destinations. The holistic promotional exercise can be not only done through massive advertising in audio visual and print media, but also through social media, so that the appeal of our offbeat destinations can easily reach even those potential inbound tourists to India who are residing in another corner of our planet, in a jiffy. The state governments of India can also host cultural festivals/fairs across the world’s leading cities with more frequency where the offbeat tourist destinations or lesser known tourist attractions of their respective states could be creatively showcased. For example, if a cultural festival in European cities present the rich tribal tradition of Arunachal Pradesh or Nagaland, many people in these cities may get interested to explore the less explored north-east region of our country.

Concessions and Creativity Besides improving roads’ network and transportation infrastructure, and developing new trekking and hiking routes, another way of making the offbeat destinations in India attract better hospitality infrastructure is by providing huge concessions to the real estate for those hospitality projects, which are to be constructed in or in the vicinity of the offbeat destinations. The states and Union Territories can take initiative in this regard. The hotels and resorts located in or in the vicinity of offbeat destinations can also be

provided the opportunity to offer subsided tariffs for a year or so, and the burden can be borne by the state exchequer. For example, if a tourist gets to stay in a five-star resort in Orchha or Tawang or say Majuli for say Rs.1500, she/he would be having an added attraction to explore these places. I think if this subsidy in tariffs is continued for a year, huge swathes of domestic and inbound tourists would get attracted to offbeat India, and in the next year such a subsidy would no longer be necessary. The hospitality industry of India in turn should make a proactive effort to develop themed hotels or resorts in offbeat destinations of India. Wherever possible, the themes of these hotels and resorts should ideally simulate the tourism highlight/s of the destinations concerned in terms of their ambience, decor and architecture. For example, how about building a resort in Khajuraho with its architecture resembling those of the ancient Khajuraho temples?

Special Guides for Offbeat India At the same time, the tourism departments/ corporations/boards of various states and Union Territories with the support from the Union Ministry of Tourism should come up with a project to develop hordes of qualified guides, who would be specialised in making the tourists aware of the awesome tourism potential of the offbeat destinations of India. They should be armed with thorough knowledge of the geography, tourist attractions and cultural heritage of the offbeat destination/s that they would be assigned to. For example, West Bengal Tourism can develop a team of ‘Offbeat Guides’ who would be proactively and specially engaged in making the domestic and inbound tourists aware about the lesser known tourism delights of West Bengal. At the same time, the Union Ministry of Tourism should develop special ‘Tourism Maps’ which should be different in their focus from the usual political and physical maps. These maps should highlight the various offbeat destinations of India, and they could be supplied to various state tourism bodies and offices of important hotel chains at free of cost. This exercise could be supplemented by developing books focusing solely on offbeat destinations of India, in which the Union Ministry of Tourism can collaborate with a reputed publishing house or with some reputed publishing houses. With inputs from Ayonendu Biswas

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F&B

Hotel Business Review

Restaurants as Destinations By Swarnendu Biswas

Alice in Wonderland Themed Restaurant in Tokyo

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ith the increasing numbers of discerning guests with considerable awareness towards global food & beverage trends, now the role of innovation in the Indian restaurant business is perhaps more critical than it was ever before. Nowadays there is an ever increasing universe of guests for whom a visit to the restaurant, especially a visit to a fine dining restaurant is much more than having great food & beverage in an uplifting but conventional and predictable ambience. Many of them want a novel experience or novel experiences from their restaurant visit/s, which would be part of their future memories. Therefore there is a growing need among restaurateurs operating in urban India, especially those operating in metropolitan India or in other tier-I cities of the country, or among those restaurants in India which are housed within five-star and four-star hotels and resorts, to think out of the box. Nowadays for restaurants operating within five-star and four-star hospitality properties in India, providing great food, having great ambience and décor(which should also be matching with the culinary character of the restaurant), having efficient staff and healthy ingredients, and getting the costing right are not always sufficient to stay ahead of the competition. 38

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They are necessary factors but not always sufficient ones to stay ahead of the competition in the fast evolving high-end spectrum of the Indian restaurant business. Often to give their guests something ‘extra’ restaurants and bars in the upper-end segment of the Indian food service industry are also needing innovative themes, models and operational processes, which can facilitate them to stand out from the clutter of competition. “Given the evolution of hotel and restaurant guests in India over the past few years, the market potential of themed restaurants has increased exponentially over the recent years, in the Indian food service and hospitality industry,” observed Faisal Nafees, Director Operations, Hotel The Royal Plaza.

History as a Theme These are many innovative themes which the Indian food service business has been experiencing during the recent years. However, largely themes used in the Indian food service business are focused solely on entertainment value. It is now about time to explore some themes in the Indian food service business, which have edutainment (educational and entertainment) value too. This would help our restaurants to emerge not only as eating, drinking and fun havens but also as tourist destinations in their own right! Restaurants in hotels can adopt these below-mentioned themes, which according to this writer’s opinion, can not only enhance their revenue earning potential, but can also contribute to the reputation of the hotels where they are housed in. It can be interesting for hotels to have

restaurants with the central theme of history or of a given period of time in history. For example, a restaurant where the theme of ancient Greek civilisation is aesthetically and realistically showcased can be good edutainment destination. According to this concept, the restaurant can simulate an in-vironment like that of an ancient Greek village or ancient Greek city-state, through its ambience and decor. Here the waiters, other staff and managers of the restaurant should ideally be dressed in similar garments and in similar manner to what the people in ancient Greece used to dress, and the walls of the restaurant should ideally have important accounts/incidents of ancient Greek civilisation, as part of the décor. The music played at the restaurant should also be similar to the music played in ancient Greece. Of course, in this case the focus of the cuisine should be Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Similar restaurants with the theme of Indus Valley Civilisation or ancient Egyptian civilisation or any other important ancient or medieval civilisations can be created. They can provide great food and drinks along with great food for thought. Of course, these types of historical themed restaurants cannot only be developed through creativity and money. They also need to be backed by solid research. These types of restaurants require involvement of creative fashion designers and inputs from renowned historians too, in order to give them an authentic feel.

Literary, Musical or Comic Themes Restaurants with literary and musical

What a Comic Show restaurant


Sp a F&B themes can also be a wonderful option. Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant in Tokyo is an apt example in this regard, where the fantastical world of Alice has been wonderfully recreated in the restaurant. Similarly a restaurant focusing on authentic Bengali cuisine, and themed on Rabindra Sangeet, can be an interesting option. Hotels can also develop restaurants inspired by the wonderful world of Tintin, Asterix or our very own Chacha Chaudhary, with illustrations of their myriad adventures being part of the ambience and décor. Of course, the comic, musical and literary themes, like that of the historical themes, should be extended to the menu designs, staff uniforms and in the entertainment programmes of these restaurants too. In these themed restaurants, one can also have food and cutlery designed in a way so that they adhere to these innovative themes. For example, what about cutlery designed in a way so that it simulates kitchen utensils used in ancient Greece? Or what about a chicken dish shaped like Asterix or Obelix in a comic themed restaurant? The comic themed restaurants can be of particular interest to children. In the very recent past, I visited a comic themed restaurant in Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi, named ‘What a Comic Show’, which despite its severe space constraint, admirably attempts to extend the comic theme through its décor, menu design and entertainment programmes. I do not know whether India has its share of historical or literary themed restaurants. However, I am sure that even if restaurants with historical and literary themes are there in India or are being developed in India, they are extremely few and far between. We need more of them. We need more restaurants in India which can provide great edutainment, along with great food and service. Hotels having historical themed restaurants, literary themed restaurants and comic themed restaurants can increase their tourism appeal too.

Restaurants Simulating Solar System? Similarly, hotels can develop restaurants with the concept of solar system. These restaurants can also generate great interest among children and also bring out the child within all of us. Here the entire décor of the restaurant can be made in dark sky blue colour (representing the night sky); dotted with models of moons, and of tiny stars. The ambience of these types of restaurants

Hotel Business Review

Faisal Nafees

should ideally also have eight spherical zones in varying colours, located at some distance from each other, representing the eight till now known planets of the solar system. Each spherical zone should have a fixed number of covers. Inside the spherical zones, one can have elegant rectangular spaces for guests to comfortably sit and dine. Each of these spherical zones should ideally move slowly around a large luminous spherical zone, which would represent the Sun (I am very much aware that planets move around the Sun at great speed, but that is not possible to replicate in this make believe setting). Ideally, the ‘Sun’ in our solar system themed restaurant could comprise of the restaurant’s kitchen/s and offices. Small bridges could be used for the staff to traverse from the ‘Sun’ to the ‘planets.’ The slow moving ‘planets’ should only momentarily (or for some moments) stop when the guests would need to leave or come in. Ideally, restaurants adhering to this concept should take in a given number of guests at one go per session, which can ideally last between 45 minutes-1hour. Of course, this elaborate concept needs the details to be right. The spherical zones representing Jupiter or Saturn would have to be considerably larger than the other spherical zones representing other planets. The spherical zone representing the ‘Sun’ should in turn be much bigger than the spherical zones representing Jupiter, Saturn or Uranus. Of course, exact scientific measurements cannot be replicated(for example, Sun’s diameter in reality is 109 times that of the Earth’s diameter, and thus this huge difference in size between Sun and the Earth cannot be replicated within a themed restaurant concept), but the spherical zones of the restaurants should give a feel of the solar system.

Similarly, the spherical zone representing Uranus should not only be considerably larger than the spherical zones representing Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Neptune, but it should also be considerably cold (but nowhere remotely near as unbearably cold like the real Uranus of course; one should be realistic only to the extent till it is not uncomfortable to the guests), requiring the donning of overcoats and gloves. Likewise, the spherical zone representing Mercury should have a slightly hot invironment (but not at all unbearably hot; the environment within this spherical zone should have to be within the degree of human comfortability like in all the other spherical zones) as compared to other spherical zones, and should be the smallest spherical zone used, as Mercury is the smallest of the planets in the solar system. Within each spherical zone; representing a given planet in the solar system, interesting and uncommon information about the given planet should be showcased. The spherical zones should also be coloured appropriately; reflecting the colours of the respective planets in the solar system, in our popular imagination. The restaurant/s adhering to this concept should ideally be open only during twilight and night, otherwise different ambience or environments have to be created during morning, noon and afternoon, which in any case would be a cumbersome process and may impair the creativity of the concept. Here it deserves a mention that a hotel or a resort thinking of developing a restaurant with the solar system theme must have lots of spare and unutilised real estate, for the execution of such a concept needs lots of space. Through exploring the above-mentioned concepts of themed restaurants the guests can savour food & beverage, enjoy the ambience and also gain great entertainment or even edutainment at the same time. Of course, if the basics like food & beverage served are not great then the fancy ideas are not likely to generate the desired footfalls for the restaurants concerned. In fact, if these concepts are being executed with the right amount of detail, then the restaurants adhering to these concepts can project themselves as tourist destinations in their own right, and feature in the travel itinerary for the tourists. Hotels having such restaurants can stand out from the crowd and are likely to get greater number of footfalls than they would have got before having such n a themed restaurant.

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Technology

Hotel Business Review

New-age Technologies Changing Hospitality By Sharmila Chand

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reating tech-enabled, personalised hotel stays have become increasingly important. These days, hoteliers are experimenting to see how technology can increase their business. The key is to focus on technology investments that make hotel visits easier and more personalised for guests. Some of the technology tools are leading to great improvements and savings for the hospitality industry; while others are increasingly integrating the marketing team, management and guests to be in close tandem and have memorable experiences for the guests that can lead to positive change and growth in the industry. I recently had interviews with two corporate honchos to explore further on this issue. One of them is Ramesh Arora, Managing Director and VP Marketing, The Montcalm Luxury Hotels London, and the other is Sunil R. Udupa, Chairman & Managing Director, Securens. 40

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The ‘Handy’ Factor The Montcalm London Marble Arch has become the first of the Montcalm Hotels to launch ‘Handy’, a smartphone service to bolster their guest offering and promise to connect the disconnected — a first for a hotel in the UK. “We are delighted to be the first hotel group in the UK to offer this service with the Handy smartphone. It demonstrates our commitment to

Ramesh Arora

putting the customer first by offering them the very best value during their stay, because it means our international guests can stay connected to their world, with our compliments. It is just one of the ways we are applying digital innovation to enhance the guest experience,” asserted Ramesh Arora, Managing Director and VP Marketing, The Montcalm Luxury Hotels London. Millions of people across the globe are used to being connected to the world at large 24-hours-a-day via their mobile devices, but when they travel to a foreign country there is no guarantee that their service provider will operate overseas. Thus there is a possibility of their getting denied online access or even, frustratingly, the ability to make a phone call. This can be a major inconvenience. That is where Handy becomes useful. This facility can cater to the high number of overseas business and leisure travellers who are struggling with their handheld devices when travelling to the UK capital. Guests of The Montcalm Luxury Hotels can use Handy devices entirely free of charge, for the entire duration of their stay in the UK capital, thereby enabling them to make local and international calls to destinations including USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and India and access 3G data to use the Internet. Besides these facilities, Handy’s tailored service offers over 200 pointsof-interest which include travel recommendations updated throughout the day, interactive maps, websites and a one-touch reservation option, which include access to restaurants and major attractions. These features enable guests to explore London like a local, making Handy an effective travel guide.


Sp a Technology

Hotel Business Review

All personal information and browsing history will be completely cleared from the Handy smartphones when the guest checks out of the hotel, thereby safeguarding the guests’ privacy. “We understand the importance of technology in hospitality business and are very active on this front. We have recently launched ‘Handy’ in all our Montcalm

and Park Grand London Hotels that enable guests to make free unlimited international and local calls along with accessing 3G data for Internet,” averred Ramesh Arora. Both Montclam and Park Grand London are hotel brands within the ambit of Luxury Hotels Group. Here it deserves a mention that Luxury Hotels Group is an extensive collection of

five-star hotels worldwide, offering luxury facilities, world-class service and an outstanding accommodation experience. “Additionally, we are proud to implement user-friendly booking engines, easy to navigate websites and downloadable Montcalm apps for the convenience of our guests,” Arora pointed out further. n

Secured by Securens Securens is in the business of providing outsourced 24/7 Monitored Intrusion Alarm Systems, especially designed for hotels, QSRs, retail enterprises, ATMs and bank branches.  Through 24x7 surveillance system they are able to monitor activities in various parts of the hotel, and therefore the role of Securens could be crucial for the hospitality industry. Securens has successfully helped leading food chains in not only detecting  but also in minimising pilferage at different levels such as shrinkage at commissary level, shrinkage at the time of transportation, monitoring the discipline of the team members, and improving the overall food handling and service processes.  I recently had a discussion with Sunil R. Udupa, Chairman & Managing Director of Securens, on increasing pilferages in QSRs and retail outlets and how Securens can not only detect pilferages but also ensure brand hygiene. We discussed how brand conscious hoteliers and restaurateurs are using IoT technology to check if brand hygiene & standards are being maintained.  This has not only ensured quality brand experience but has also enhanced customer experience of brand at outlets. Here it deserves a mention that Sunil R. Udupa is a veteran in banking & payment industry with 25 years of experience. He has the track record of building many successful companies from scratch. The excerpts of the interview follow: Can you kindly elaborate on Internet of Things or IoT?  Earlier, Internet of Things (IoT) was looked upon as a futuristic, far-fetched concept but in a short span of time, it has become all pervasive and as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe. IoT technology can and has made enterprises more effective. Especially hoteliers and restaurateurs are using IoT technology to enhance experience of customers who are eager to have the best standards of hygiene and services when they visit hotels and restaurants. Tell us the logistics of the Securens, pertaining to the hospitality industry In the competitive dynamics of the hospitality industry hotels, restaurants and food chains are trying to deploy an IoT system which can improve customer experience as well as ease the monitoring of the ‘heart of the house’ as these can help to maintain brand hygiene and standards.

With multiple international brands entering India, these can also be deployed as essential competitive differentiators. Competition is intensifying in the hospitality industry; one brand is competing against the other not only in terms of the services they provide but also regarding how these services are provided. And whether the brand has maintained its standards and hygiene is a very important issue. This is where Securens helps its clients to ensure that they are the best in the industry. Securens provides 24x7 monitoring systems and online checks in real time; services that let hoteliers and restaurateurs monitor outlets across India, allowing businesses to prosper without any worries. With Securens, they can regularly monitor online the hygiene of the outlet at all times, minimise shrinkage and pilferage at all levels, and also resolve service disputes. With Securens, they can even monitor the safety and security of food items, and of goods

and commodities in transit, thereby ensuring maximum possible benefit is provided to not just the users but also to the end customers. What are the key advantages of the system? Through IoT technology, Securens helps brands stay ahead — monitors their day-to-day operations; opening and closing timings of their outlet/s and their cleanliness, staff attendance and average time to address the customers in queue. Securens highlights whether your customers are satisfied and are given proper attention by the staff. The best part is that unlike conventional CCTV cameras, our picture resolution is much higher and cannot be tampered with at ground level. Moreover, if such an attempt is made, a high volume buzzer rings alerting everyone around besides ensuring that the pre-set list of people receive a call from the control room so that they can take appropriate action. These systems help the 24x7 industry stay 24x7 in real sense. 

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Spa

Hotel Business Review

Wooing Through Wellness By Sharmila Chand

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n ideal retreat from the chaotic traffic, dust and grime and noisy crowd of the India’s capital is the Woo Wellness & Spa, located within Pullman New Delhi Aerocity. It is created with the idea of providing an oasis for city dwellers and travellers alike; an experience at Woo Wellness & Spa can leave you rejuvenated. The spa offers an experience that is all about you — your needs and your wants, translated into an environment that is specifically designed to enhance your emotional, mental and physical well-being. For example, the restorative Morning Ritual — for the face, the body, the mind, separately — is intuitively designed to hydrate, purify and energise these three symbiotic centres. A break at midday in the spa is reflected in Mid-Day Care, where a choice of deep tissue or aromatherapy massages allow you to reset and rewire. Rounding off the time-centric nature

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of this wellness manifesto is the Night Restore, where anti-ageing treatments like the Ayurvedic Shirodhara coupled with other rejuvenating treatments ensure your mind, body and face can unwind with ease; ready to face another day.

A haven for the body and the soul, the spa offers guests not only moments of tranquility and means of relaxation but a menu of spa and fitness amenities and treatments to improve personal wellbeing.


Sp a Spa

Hotel Business Review

Whether it is through the Thai Meridian Massage, Jet Lag Recovery, the Phytomer Facial, or through the special Kama Ayurveda treatments — the illuminating Pearl Facial and tightening Fruit & Nut Facial — Woo Wellness & Spa is geared to ensure that you receive a warm welcome and utmost care and attention throughout your wellness experience here. Here you can rejuvenate and revitalise with unique signature treatments and Bespoke Express Services. Should you want to delve into the wonderful wellness world of Ayurveda, a slew of trained, experienced staff are ready and waiting to usher you into the world of Ayurvedic well-being therapies like Abhyangaand Kati Basti. n

Endeavouring Towards Holistic Well-being Ram Chatterjee is the Director of Spa at Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity. His job involves developing the business strategy and taking care of the smooth day-to-day functioning of the Woo Wellness & Spa. He is also responsible for hiring and training of the staff at the spa. He has developed and conceptualised the spa menu of Woo Wellness & Spa. Furthermore, he takes care of the incoming and outgoing inventory at the spa, ensuring only the best products are used for various spa rituals and therapies. He aims to make Woo Wellness & Spa, Delhi and NCR’s leading lifestyle wellness center; inspired by the indigenous healing culture. Ram Chatterjee brings along 20 years of experience and has worked previously with Grand Hyatt Mumbai as the Spa Manager and Spa Director. He has also worked with Hyatt Regency Kolkata as the Spa Manager and with Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, where he was instrumental in opening the first Jiva Spa. He also has the experience of working with Shahnaz Husain Herbal for Man, and with VLCC, Calcutta. In his previous tenure, he was also the Director of Spa and Recreation at Grand Hyatt Goa. The excerpts of the interview with the wellness expert follow: What are the kind of changes you have witnessed in the Indian spa industry during the past 5-6 years? Over the recent years, the major changes that I have noticed in the Indian spa industry is that our guests have become fully aware of their wellness needs and are having decent knowledge about spa services, which

is very good news for spa professionals like us. This has led to awareness and greater understanding of our profession among our guests. Moreover, during the recent years many spa schools have also opened up across the country, resulting in better basic knowledge and profile of therapists. Another major change in

the industry is that the variety of spa products has almost doubled. Long gone are the days when spa meant just massage treatments. There are now a host of wellness and fitness activities which have started complimenting spa therapies, which include outdoor activities such as outdoor gym, sports like squash, tennis,

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Spa

Hotel Business Review

have a dedicated area for express spa services, which is quite popular with our jet lagged guests. Spa for Kids, which entails selected wellness services under parents’ supervision, a special wellness menu are our other specialties. We have spa, salon, gym and recreational services under one roof, with 24hrs gym facility. We have oriental and western spa therapies available, including couple therapy suites.

wellness disciplines like yoga and taichi, and physical fitness system like Pilates, etc. Wellness food, spa cuisine are other trends as is the wellness vacation along with kids & family involving many activities such as yoga, meditation, trekking, cycling, swimming, rafting and some adventurous sports. Spa & wellness for kids have also gained currency. What are the key challenges towards opening and running a spa? The key challenges towards opening a spa include finding the proper location. Location plays a major role in opening a spa. The place has to be well-connected to all major transport systems. If a particular place has some history or is located near mountain or sea that would be an added advantage. The quality of service and treatments also needs to be taken care of while opening a spa. As the consistency in service delivery is always a big challenge, one has to be dedicated to check the standards time to time. Quality of manpower is an important operational issue. Sadly most of the spa professionals in India are by chance and not by choice. This makes managing a good spa business in India a little challenging. The spa personnel have to be passionate and committed to their role.

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If the spa has a concept or a specialty or specialties, it/they should be very well defined. How do you decide on the spa menu? What factors have to be kept in mind to chalk out a decent spa menu? I decide on the spa menu based on my spa concept. The few factors we need to keep in mind before deciding on the spa menu of a spa housed in a hotel are spa’s location, the hotel’s profile, its local clientele’s profiles and their spending capabilities, and the spa’s vision & concept. What do you enjoy the most about being a Spa Director? As a spa professional, I feel lucky to be able to correct people’s lifestyle and motivating them into wellness. I meet many people every day, and in my interaction with them I realise that most of them have lifestyle problems. By interacting with them, I get an opportunity to make them choose a blissful life rather than a stressful life. That is a great satisfaction. Could you tell us some of the characteristics of your spa? What distinguishes it from others? Woo Wellness & Spa is a one of its kind of spa. We lay emphasis on detox and de-stress program along with lifestyle counseling. Moreover, we

Do you have some customised treatments? At Woo Wellness & Spa we have customised treatments that are for half a day spa journey. They include Santulan, and Woo Detox Journey. The Santulan comprises yoga & meditation, steam bath, sea salt scrub, Ubtan wrap, Thai Meridian massage, wellness food at the poolside or at the designated restaurant. You can begin your Woo Detox Journey with cardio and functional exercise with your personal trainer, which is followed by a steam bath. This treatment detoxifies your body while calming your mind with an anti-aging ritual of three powerful cleansing treatments. Here we use marine gel wrap that removes toxins from the body and softens the skin. Overall, the wellness journey includes cardio and functional training with personal trainer, hand pounded organic fruit scrub, marine gel wrap, lymph massage, and wellness food at the poolside or at the designated restaurant. What is your favourite treatment to receive and why it is so? My favourite massage treatment is the Aromatherapy at Woo Wellness & Spa at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity because it helps me to calm down and gives me clarity of thoughts. I feel very balanced and pampered by the scent of lavender oil used throughout the treatment. Any other point you wish to make? I feel spa and wellness is necessary for everyone. It is not a luxury. It can bring many positive changes within oneself. Spa not only plays a major role physically but it helps mentally and emotionally as well.


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May-June ’16

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Property

Hotel Business Review

Presenting Opulence with Nature By Sharmila Chand

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heritage property with modern amenities and fabulous service can make a vacation at the Queen of Hills a memorable one. Located in the heart of Mussoorie, WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie is a luxury property exuding a soothing old-world charm. Spread over three acres of pine forests, the property presents a seamless blend of modern five-star luxury and classic heritage architecture. The property, centrally located

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just above the buzzing Mall Road of Mussoorie, yet away from the humdrum of the tourists, can be a preferred choice for discerning leisure travellers. Resplendent, opulent and royal, the interiors of the hotel have been well preserved in its original form. What is more, WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace provides scenic views of Mussoorie and the Doon Valley. Succinctly, the property can be an ideal haven for a nature lover as well as for an aficionado of heritage.

The hotel was originally a part of the Christ Church complex, built in 1836 by Captain Rennie Tailor of the Bengal Engineers. The hotel is housed in one of the oldest buildings of Mussoorie. This stately mansion in gleaming white, built in Anglo-French style, had gone through many reincarnations. It served as a sanatorium for the British armed forces and then as a school, and then became a summer retreat of Kasmanda royal family, in 1915. Well kept gardens and terraces mark


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Hotel Business Review

Attracting Royalty and Luminaries The palace-hotel has hosted royalty and luminaries like Queen Mary of the UK and the Beatles in the past. Queen Mary’s favourite spot at the terrace has been preserved well where she had her morning tea, over 100 years ago!

the property’s USP. Lot of care has been bestowed to conserve the original heritage look of the property. The unique architecture of the hotel is reminiscent of the British Raj. WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace has 24 elegant and spacious double bedrooms. Every room features a great

sense of space, and they are well-equipped with a comprehensive range of modern amenities. There are three categories of rooms in the hotel — Double Deluxe rooms, Superior, and Royal rooms. The Heritage Wing Rooms face the Doon Valley and the Modern Wing Rooms face the garden area.

I found the F&B service at the property to be enticing. Magnolia is the in-house restaurant with pleasing interiors. Here one can enjoy Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines, in indoor or outdoor seating areas. The bonfire in the gardens can make for memorable evenings and get togethers. Another highlight of the property, besides its awe-inspiring terraces, is the Lounge, with its classy décor. I must say, the Lounge was my favourite retreat as it had a good selection of books and also afforded me to work in peace, with my laptop. With huge windows all around, the Lounge completes the picture perfect look of the in-nature heritage retreat. n

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Property

Hotel Business Review

Giving a Home Away From Home Feel Armed with a degree in hospitality from the famous Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia, Dinkar Singh, the Owner and COO of WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace, gained experience while working in the hospitality industry at various properties and departments in Australia. His various stints strengthened his skills in operations; especially in problem solving areas. “We in the hospitality industry are faced with issues of all sorts on a daily basis, which require a quick response. I oversee the entire running of the property. We try our best to give attention to details and treat each guest as if she/he is our own personal guest,” he stated. The excerpts of the interview follow: What are the distinguishing features of your property as compared to other hospitality properties in the same bracket? It is a unique experience that we offer to our guests. We provide them with hospitality which is not like that of a typical hotel, but is directed to make them feel like home stay. WelcomHeritage Kasmanda Palace is probably the only hospitality property in Mussoorie which still has such large open green areas and sit out places, all overlooking the breathtaking views of the Doon Valley. It is located in the center of the town, yet away from the noise of the Mall Road. I am proud of our lovely gardens with exotic plants and trees, nurtured by six generations of our family over a period of hundred years. Our biggest USP is the fact that we try to make our guests feel as if they are at home away from home and treat them like personal guests of the family and not just hotel guests. We encourage guests to come and just relax at our property, away from the hectic daily chores, and breathe in fresh air. Succinctly, we consider our property to be a living heritage museum hotel, with the 6th generation of the owners still using and living in the same premises. We strive to be a unique and luxurious getaway for travelers and tourists. Please tell us about the green initiatives the hotel has undertaken We have always been a very eco-friendly hotel. Some of the green initiatives at our hotel are rain water harvesting for watering our gardens, tent cards being placed in the bathroom and bedroom, giving a choice to the guest in regard to room linen to be replaced/ changed. 48

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A few years ago, we installed hot and cold air-conditioners with invertor technology so as to save electricity. We use only CFL bulbs and are now switching to LED. The list goes on… What is the marketing strategy you have adopted to promote your property? So far word of mouth has helped us in getting discerning travellers. Now we intend to focus on digital marketing, promotions and distribution. What according to you is the role of F&B in getting business for a hotel? How much importance do you give to this department? We take personal interest in F&B at our hotel and make sure that most of the ingredients are sourced locally and hence are fresh and organic. We also try to be a bit different in regard to our menu and try to have a lot of dishes which are not the typical dishes with heavy gravies and a lot of oil, etc. Moreover, together with our Food Consultant we make changes in our menu every year, so that you have new dishes every year. We have a limited but a good mix of Continental, Indian and Chinese dishes on offer which can be enjoyed in our English Tea Garden and on our terraces; overlooking the Doon Valley with breathtaking views. Again it is the outdoor dining experience at our property which is unrivalled to that of any other hospitality property in Mussoorie. Could you reflect on the future plans and new initiatives you wish to undertake in your property? We do have unused space to add a gym, spa and an indoor activity area, which is next on the cards. We are also planning on being more tech-friendly in the coming months.

What tech features you wish to implement in future? Can you name any one or two of them? We would like to add custom tablets in the rooms, which would enable guests to control nearly everything about their hotel experience within our guestrooms. What is the most crucial issue to tackle in the Indian hospitality industry these days? We feel it is the skill shortage and extremely high taxation. What do you enjoy the most about being at the helm of affairs at the hotel? I enjoy ensuring that guests are taken good care of. I see to it that they have a comfortable and memorable stay with us. What is/are your strength/s professionally? My professional strengths are my problem solving skills, people management and attention to detail.   What has been the most rewarding experience of your present tenure? It is watching the property grow in terms of upgradations being done each year and having repeat guests coming back to stay with us. One such guest is a couple who has been visiting us from the early 90s. It also makes us very happy when a guest appreciates the time and effort we have put into maintaining such an old property in the hills and the way we run it. How do you de-stress? Gardening and my dogs help me de-stress. What is your working mantra that is your guiding philosophy in work? It is having commitment to guest satisfaction and towards my employees.


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Hygiene

Hotel Business Review

Making Hospitality Inhospitable for Pests The presence of pests in the hospitality industry has always been unacceptable. Pests ranging from bed bugs to birds have been a bane for hotels. Ashok Malkani takes a look at some of the procedures being adopted by the industry or should be adopted by the industry to checkmate these pests. Customer: “Waiter, there is a fly in my soup” Waiter: “For Rs. 10 what do you expect? An elephant?”

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okes aside, hospitality sector cannot afford to have pests. Hotels, irrespective of their size and category, have to observe strict vigilance to prevent pests if they want to continue having guests. No guest would like to have the company of bed bugs or cockroaches or any other pest. Whether guests are staying overnight at your hotel, visiting your restaurant to eat dinner, or having a couple of drinks at your bar to unwind, you want to present a clean, tidy environment where they feel comfortable. Perhaps nothing chases away your guests faster than sharing their stay with unwanted pests. Pest control should be a zero-tolerance zone in the hospitality industry. Hotel and Restaurant Managers must do everything they can to keep pests away from the guests. Birds pooping on the pool deck are a highly irritating sight; mice in the lobby are an embarrassment; cockroaches in the kitchen are a nightmare; whereas bed bugs in the guest rooms can be construed as nothing short of a disaster for the hospitality property concerned. Particularly in this age of 50

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powerful social media and 24x7 news channels, the presence of pests in hotels can easily become news before they get detected by the hotel’s management. However, with guests checking in daily from all over the world, pest problems are hardly uncommon in hotels and motels. With round-the-clock activity, restaurants, meeting rooms, guest rooms and numerous storage areas, hotels present unique challenges when it comes to pest control.

Bed Bugs One of the pests whose presence can mar a hospitality property’s reputation is the bed bug. Truly, they have been bugging the hospitality industry for ages. Bed bugs are prone to strike anywhere, anytime, thereby making them more dangerous. Thus hotels have to be extremely careful about these pests. Incidences of bed bugs have been on the rise over the last few years as these insects have become increasingly resistant to certain pesticides. Because bed bugs have developed resistance to many chemical pesticides currently being used, many agencies stress the importance of integrated pest management to counter them. It is also necessary for your housekeeping staff to be aware of how to properly check for

bedbugs in the room. They need to pull back the linens from the bed and check all the way around the mattress. Then, they need to check all the nooks and crannies in the headboard. Pests are often found in the seams of the bedding or the corners of the bed. Signs of bedbugs include small black dots or blood stains that are about the size of ground pepper. They can often be mistaken for mold, so the staff member should be careful on this account. Bedbugs look a bit like apple seeds. Even if the bed is clear, the search shouldn’t end. Most bedbugs are found within 15 feet of the bed. Employees should next check anything near the bed where bedbugs might exist. Places like picture frames, on the nightstand, and even in the guest services menu and materials, bed bugs can be found. The bed and the immediate area nearby are the most likely places for bedbugs, but they can be found throughout the room, in places like the closet or furniture. Once the sweep gets to the bathroom, things should be all clear. Because the bathroom has less hiding places, bedbugs rarely take root there.

Flies Flies are mostly found hovering around


Sp a Hygiene food outlets. Among the most dangerous of the disease-causing organisms which have been found on flies are E.coli, and Campylobacter spp. Correct identification and knowledge of biology and habits of the flies will help locate their breeding sites that need to be targeted for their effective control. Successful integrated management of flies should include the exclusion, restriction and destruction of flies. Exclusion: If the flies are entering from outside, it is essential that doors and windows are kept shut or fitted with flyscreening products. Restriction: This is a crucial component of effective fly control. Waste should be bagged and tightly sealed prior to disposal. Furthermore, bins and skips should have tight-fitting lids. Destruction: This entails the usage of insecticides. The non chemical method of destruction includes physical methods like electronic fly killers.

Cockroaches Another pest in the food handling areas of commercial kitchens is cockroach. Traditionally, cockroach control has been done with so called ‘powerful chemicals’ which give out high odour and cause irritation post or during spray treatment. This was perceived to be very effective for cockroach control. Now there are compounds which are odourless. These new-age chemicals also have a ‘Flushing Action’ where cockroaches will come out of hiding areas due to the effect of these chemicals and get killed. One of the best ways to beat any opponent is to understand his tactics and set up your defense accordingly. To this end, cockroach baiting has become a preferred tool for pest management. In comparison with spray treatments, baits are designed to be very attractive for the cockroach and take advantage of their innate feeding behaviour. In addition, the baits are not immediate kill, so the cockroach’s natural tendency to scurry back to harborage and share or exchange the bait with others in the population of cockroaches extends the toxic impact of the bait. Not only do the cockroaches carry the bait to an area which may be difficult to reach otherwise, they also can expose other members of their population to the toxicant through their behaviour.

Hotel Business Review

Integrated Pest Management But the hotels’ problems do not begin and end with these three pests. There are several other pests like ants, mice, birds, et al, which need to be tackled effectively by the hospitality industry. Moreover, tackling pests holistically, particularly for the hospitality industry, poses more challenges than in other sectors as hospitality properties cannot afford to use pesticides that would disturb guests’ stay. Eco-friendly or ‘green’ methods of pest control should ideally have to be adopted in hospitality properties to tackle the pest menace. Recent advancements in green pest management technology entail that you can have a pest-free hospitality property with minimal adverse environmental impact. An important aspect of green pest control in hospitality properties is that most of the pest management exercise should be done behind the scenes and shouldn’t disturb the guests’ stay. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest management that emphasises source reduction. It explores why pests infest a facility in the first place. Though it is difficult to get rid of bugs in an eco-friendly manner, there are ways in which these pests can be handled the ‘green’ way. Integrated pest management, which is defined as the selection, integration and implementation of pest control based on predicted economic, ecological and sociological consequences, makes maximum use of naturally occurring control agents, including weather, disease organisms, predators and parasites. According to Government of India, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an eco-friendly approach which aims at keeping pest population at below economic threshold levels by employing all available alternate pest control methods and techniques such as cultural, mechanical and biological with emphasis on use of bio-pesticides and pesticides of plant-origin like Neem formulations.” IPM, along with other non-chemical green pest control practices, can facilitate to ensure that the lodging property remains pest-free, aesthetically pleasing, and a welcome place for guests. Owners and managers of hospitality accommodations are expected to put into place an integrated pest management

plan that can be implemented and audited as part of the business/premises management programme. The plan should be sensitive to the issues of sustainability without prejudicing public health. The plan should also encourage the minimal use of pesticides, and pesticides should be used in a way that minimises exposure to people and the environment. Sustainable pest management can be achieved through regular inspections, dealing with infestations quickly, and implementing hygiene improvements. Furthermore, for the integrated pest management to be effective, managers and staff working within the hospitality property must keep alert to any signs of infestation. They should inspect the premises for signs of pests on a fortnightly or monthly basis, including mattresses and beds, store rooms, food stores, kitchens and waste retention areas. They should also regularly inspect the premises for any situation that may encourage or support pest infestation. Of course, any case of pest infestation found through inspection should be rectified as soon as possible. Setting up a pest control contract with a specialist service and responding promptly to all reports from guests or staff regarding pest problems or potential pest problems are also necessary requirements for integrated pest management to be effective. For the optimum results, work with your pest management professional to accurately identify specific pest issues and develop a pest management plan that is appropriate for your property. Also ask your pest management professional to conduct a training session on IPM to equip your employees with the information and knowledge which they need to monitor and report pest activity. The hotels which have an Integrated Pest Management plan in place should also review the property’s current IPM program from time to time with their pest management professionals and discuss implementing some environmentally friendly techniques, in case they are not implemented at those hospitality properties already. These include employing fly lights and sticky boards, use of sticky monitor boards, use of pheromone traps, repellents and desiccants, and the employing of non volatile baits and organic cleaners. n

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Housekeeping

Hotel Business Review

The Front Runners

Far from being a mere ‘support service, the housekeeping department can help you strike the right chord with the guests, earn their laurels in online and offline platforms and give you an edge over others in the big bad world of competition By Jyotismita Sharma

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ong thought to be a back-of-thehouse department and a mere support service, the housekeeping department has now emerged as the backbone of a hotel — be it a luxury or a budget one. And rightly so, for housekeepers are the front runners who can help you win over the guests, facilitate the inflow of repeat visits and trigger positive comments on social media. And we know that social media is an emerging platform for guests to read hotel and restaurant reviews, which in turn are influencing their decisions on where to dine out, or stay in while travelling on business and leisure. The perception of housekeeping as an ‘expense’ has, therefore, now been 52

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replaced by a firm belief that it is a strong arm to bring in new businesses and more profits for hospitality properties. “Today, housekeeping is no more a back-of-the-house department; instead housekeepers are seen as front runners and encouraged to interact with guests. With advancements in technology and modernisation, the role of housekeeping in hotels has changed and improved, especially for the role it plays in elevating guest experiences and satisfaction,” affirmed Ajeet Pandey, Housekeeping Manager, Novotel Hyderabad Airport. Rimi Varma, Director of Services, JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity,

agrees. “Gone are the days when housekeeping was considered as support service. It is now the backbone of any hotel and is considered to be the face of the hotel,” she said. “Housekeeping department is one of the most crucial elements in the hospitality business these days,” Rita Chaudhry, Corporate Executive Housekeeper, Sarovar Hotels, noted. The areas where housekeeping contributes the most towards hospitality industry in terms of revenue generation is in retaining guests or in facilitating repeat visits. Great housekeeping increases the recall value of the hotel among the hotel guests’ mind and induces them to visit the


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Hotel Business Review

Ajeet Pandey

Sidharth Gupta

S.K. Verma

property again. “The biggest challenge which many hoteliers in India these days are facing is to retain their guests as a guest today has many options to choose from. Nowadays the Indian hospitality industry is receiving a great many guests who are well travelled and are very particular about the hygiene, cleanliness and upkeep of the hotel. They don’t mind shelling out extra money if they are sure of the quality service standards of the hotel,” Rimi explained. “Cleanliness and hygiene of the hotel is a key factor in a guest’s decision to choose that hotel above others, especially in the budget segment. If a hotel is known for high standards in this regard, it is likely to get more business and hence higher profitability,” reasoned Sidharth Gupta, Co-founder of Treebo Hotels. “Great service, clean surroundings, and a comfortable environment lead to guest satisfaction, which in turn encourages more travellers to visit the property,” SK Verma, Assistant Manager, Housekeeping, Leisure Inn Grand Chanakya, Jaipur, said. Moreover, a hotel guest usually interacts the most with the

housekeeping staff during his/ her stay at the hotel; in the corridors, during room cleaning, for delivering supplies, etc. If the staff is warm and cordial during these interactions, it can help leave a positive impression on the guest and hence generate repeat business and a positive word of mouth campaign, felt Gupta of Treebo Hotels. “Quality housekeeping staff proactively looks for opportunities to delight their guests. I have had some great experiences with a housekeeping staff myself. While cleaning my room, the person realised that I had run out of shaving cream, and procured a fresh one of my preferred brand and left it for me with a hand-written note. I was so impressed by the gesture that I always recommend that hotel to everyone,” he pointed out.

are not clean and well maintained, the guest would think twice before using the hotel again which in turn would lead to direct revenue loss,” Verma observed. “Social media plays a big role here and guest going through various hotel review sites do not opt for hotels with poor ratings,” Rita opined. “One negative comment/ experience on social media can actually lead to losing a potential guest and many more,” Rimi elaborated. Thus housekeeping, as Pandey of Novotel Hyderabad Airport explained, “is at the core of hotel operations and can make the difference between a reputed hotel and one that gets the thumbs down.” Housekeeping is also at the core of investigation of guest complaints with regards to rooms or public areas. These complaints need quick corrective actions to keep the guest satisfaction level intact. “In my opinion, housekeeping contributes a lot to the success of a hotel and it can be construed as a service differentiator that can either raise you above your competitor or rank you low,” Pandey concluded. This writer couldn’t agree with him more. n

Rimi Varma

Housekeeping and Social Media While the spectacular upkeep of a hospitality property can play an important role in creating a positive first impression among guests and in retaining the guests, it is equally important to note that poor housekeeping can severely dent a hotel’s prospects of success, especially in this digital age where all it takes for a guest to tarnish the reputation of a hotel or a restaurant is to upload a picture or video on Facebook or Twitter or write a negative review on a popular social media platform. “In this digital age, where people post everything on social media, their review can make or break the reputation of the hotel,” Verma of Leisure Inn Grand Chanakya, Jaipur said. “If the rooms are not properly maintained or the amenities / supplies in washrooms are not as per standards, or for that matter if the dining outlets

Rita Chaudhry

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Hotel Business Review

P ro d uct Previ ew

New Range of Microfibre Mopping Systems

Eye Catching Ice Machines Series from ELANPRO

Major industrial cleaning tools supplier Charnock Equipments recently entered into a joint venture with Spain’s leading manufacturer of microfibre mopping systems, Mopatex, to introduce in India a new and exciting range of mopping systems made from a blend of the finest microfibre. The products will be available in different colour codes which would enable them to be used for various applications. To start with, Charnock would be introducing an all-new concept of polishing mops with a dual pattern. This would enable the mop to be used for dry mopping of the floors and the same could also be used for polishing of wooden and hard floors (granite, marble, etc). Charnock would also introduce new Microfibre Kentucky Mops aimed at raising the standards of cleaning by capturing the dirt on the floor instead of displacing it from one point to another like in conventional mopping. In addition to the above, Charnock would be also be introducing a new range of flat mops. These would include the conventional collapsible micro fibre mop which would be compatible to be used with all mop press wringers of mop wringer trolleys. The second option would be that of a butterfly mop. A butterfly mop essentially is a flat mop with slip-on insert. Lastly, there would be microfibre flat mops with velcro for easy attachment and removal of mop inserts. All of the above mops would come with universal mop handles. These handles would be telescopic in nature and would be made of fibre glass thus making them unbreakable. Charnock would also be launching different grades of micro fibre cloths and rolls, bar mats and chamois cloths, which would be available in different colour options. Charnock Equipments Pvt. Ltd. sales@charnock.biz

With the aim of providing innovative solutions to food service industry, ELANPRO, a leading commercial refrigeration company, recently announced the launch of ELANPRO Ice Machines Series (EIM). An affordable, hi-tech range, the ice machine series combines productivity, reliability and easeof-use with aesthetic appeal and quieter operation. The series has eight ice cube models ranging from 30-1000 kg and three models for flakers. Developed specifically to meet the increasing ice production needs, these ice machines deliver higher levels of reliability and energy efficiency. The innovative technology used in ELANPRO’s latest offering makes it easy to operate and easy to clean. The ice machines have micro computer control system. With a small operational footprint, the machines can fit into confined areas—particularly important for nightclubs and bars, where space is at premium. The machines also have light inside the bin for constant and reliable monitoring of the system. The machines allow owners to meet a variety of ice needs with a single manufacturer thereby positively impacting the operator’s bottomlines. It offers different types of shapes like dice, bullet and flake — which are ideally suited for the nightclub bar, retail and pharma industry. Furthermore, these machines are equipped with new water management design that offers food service operators a low cost of ownership and superior performance even in the most challenging water conditions. The technologically advanced machines reduce scale build up and the associated costs of scale mitigation, all while remaining very water efficient. The plates are made of stainless steel to increase the durability of ice makers. Elan Professional Appliances Pvt. Ltd. info@elanpro.net

Pipeline to Success Established in 1995, Delhi-based R R Sales Corporation has positioned itself as an eminent service provider of LPG pipeline installation services. The company deals in LPG/CNG pipeline installations and kitchen ventilation (fresh air unit & exhaust). This sole proprietor firm has a huge number of clients. The services of the company are tailored to meet the requirements of the company’s clientele and are stringently based upon industrial norms and ethics. The product range of the company includes blower, scrubber, exhaust hood, fresh air system, fresh air washer, exhaust blower, axial fan among others. The impressive product range of R R Sales Corporation is complimented by its skilled workforce. The company places considerable emphasis on research and development and regarding this, has recruited a special panel for research and development. The ethical business policies and customer-centric approaches are the cornerstones of the company and have facilitated it to develop a huge client base on a nationwide basis. R.R. Sales Corporation tarun.rrsalescorporation@gmail.com

Luxurious Bed & Bath Linen Quality and sophistication are the hallmarks of Home Zone’s bed & bath linen range, which is used in the star category hotels in India. The company makes exquisite bed linen for hotel rooms with different infill materials like down & feather, soft microfibre & hollow fibre. The company provides a comprehensive range of pillows, cushions, duvets, comforters, mattress toppers and mattress protectors. In the bath linen category, the company provides an awesome range of towels & robes. Succinctly, Home Zone’s superb quality linen can enhance the guests’ comfort while adding a fashionable touch to the hotel’s bedroom too. Home Zone India, based in Panipat, Haryana, has marketing offices in New Delhi (Central Office), Punjab, Srinagar, Hyderabad, Kathmandu & Kolkata. Home Zone India info@homezoneindia.com

The information published in this section is as per the details furnished by the respective manufacturer/distributor. In any case, it does not represent the views of Hammer Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

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Venus Industries

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May-June ’16

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Intervi ew

Hotel Business Review

Presenting Eco-friendly Hospitality with Luxury By Sharmila Chand

Avijit Singh, Director, The Hadoti Palace Bundi, looks after the operations of the hospitality property, along with his parents. Bundi is a city of historical importance, located in the state of Rajasthan. Reflecting colonial architecture, the hotel offers a splendid view of Taragarh Fort and is near to most tourist destinations in the city. Singh belongs to the royal family of Badnore. The family also traces its ancestry to the famous saint-poetess Mira Bai. Singh loves to run his hotel professionally. In the beginning he had to create awareness about Bundi as a destination as people were not really aware of the beautiful city. Now it is very much on the tourist track. “We meet with travel agents on a regular basis and also participate in exhibitions to showcase both the hotel and Bundi. The involvement of my parents contributes as we all have identified roles to play for the smooth functioning of the hotel,” he said. The excerpts of the interview follow: What is the USP of your property? What distinguishes your property from others in the same bracket?

As compared to our competition in the city, we have a much larger inventory of rooms and our big advantage is the open spaces and sprawling lawns. Moreover, we are the only hotel in the area with a swimming pool. Some additional facilities like the badminton court and table tennis facility and a recreation room with a few board games also help the guests entertain themselves. The Heritage Cinema hall next to the hotel is an interesting place where both our domestic and foreign guests love to see a movie. My family is passionate about vintage and classic cars and we do have a few parked at the hotel, which is also a great attraction for our guests. My mother being a keen cook, regularly gives cooking demonstrations. Moreover, we give guests personal attention. Someone from the family is there most of the time to supervise the things. 56

May-June ’16

What are the hotel’s environmentfriendly features?

We were able to make the hotel environment-friendly. We have energy saving key tags, solar water heating facility, CFL lighting, liberal use of sun light due to ample number of windows, .water harvesting, etc. which though make for one time investment but reduces the dayto-day operational costs in a big way.

Could you reflect on some noteworthy initiatives that you have undertaken in your property?

I strongly believe we cannot stop at any point in the hotel industry as we need to keep improving and innovating. We started with 28 rooms and last year increased the inventory to 42 rooms. At the same time, we added features like an elevator for easy access to the upper floors. To keep our guests entertained we now have a badminton court, facilities for playing table tennis and Dish TVs. The changes in the hotel keep taking place as per the industry standard and guests’ feedback.

What were the challenges to tackle while running a hotel in Bundi, in the initial years of its operations?

Building a hotel in a small place like Bundi came with its own set of challenges like paucity of raw materials and trained workers, etc. Then there were general issues faced by every other hotelier in India like challenges pertaining to staff management, challenges in getting permissions, etc. Luckily, Bundi is now on the tourist map and people are aware of the place, which makes things much easier as compared to eight years ago when we started the hotel. What is your mantra for success?

I believe that time management is the key to my success. Not that anyone can perfectly balance it but one has to manage time as best as one can, between work and family responsibilities. How do you relieve yourself of stress?

I try and take out some time for golf or for a swim as a sport rejuvenates your mind and leads to a healthy life, which is of utmost importance.


Mar-Apr ’15

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Hammer Food & Beverage Business Review

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