“Everyone who comes into the hotel has his own story and we with our service and hospitality make that story memorable”, Reuben Kataria.
HospiBuz: Three months already as the GM at one of city’s leading five-star hotels, how do you find it? Also, Marriott International opened its 100th hotel in India, your thoughts on that.
JW Marriott Bengaluru is a landmark hotel. The city center location, with Cubbon park on one side and a bustling UB city mall on the other side, makes it ideal for corporate and leisure segment. The guests can enjoy the calm and serenity of Cubbon Park and at the same time, being in the city center are amidst action with high-end retail and dining options at a walking distance.
Marriott currently has 105 hotels in India with Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel as the 105th hotel. It is indeed a great leap in the hospitality industry for the country as we, as a company are looking at providing the Marriott hospitality to the increasing demand due to the rise in tourism and business travel.
HospiBuz: Overcoming the struggles of a new place, culture, and responsibility you proved yourself as the master of your skill, recognized as the best hotel by Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014. Was there any roadmap or strategy you had in place to achieve it?
Egypt was my toughest assignment so far. I joined the hotel when the country was recovering from the second revolution and the things had just started to stabilize. The tough act was to not give in to the pressures and maintain quality and consistency. In spite of the constraints and pressures on a top line, we ensured that the property was maintained to the highest standards and the service was personalized. The team went out of their way to make every guest who came in left as a brand ambassador. This ensured that we were recognized as the Best hotel on the Red Sea and subsequently we won the No 1 Hotel in Egypt by Tripadvisor Traveller Choice Award for the year 2016 and 2017.
HospiBuz: How is the market of Egypt different from the Indian Market for the hospitality industry? Is the working style of people in both the countries different?
Egypt is one of the most visited countries in the world and regularly features in the bucket list. Apart from Cairo which has its share of business and corporate travelers, the rest of the country depends on the leisure segment. The Red Sea towns of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada are famous for the sun, sand, and diving. The coral reefs are second to the Great Australian Barrier Reef. The cities of Luxor and Aswan on the Nile and Cairo gives you a glimpse of 5000 years of history. One thing which stands out is the way the antiquities have been preserved in the country. Since tourism is the second biggest revenue generator for the country after the Suez Canal, the whole country focusses on tourism. Every household has one or more family member working in tourism. The people are warm, friendly and very welcoming. The working style is very similar. The teams are well trained, are multilingual and can cater to high volumes.
HospiBuz: One memory that always boosts your confidence and brings a smile to your face when you sit back and think about your journey in the industry.
As a hotelier, somethings which make it worthwhile is a satisfied guest. There have been many instances of happy and satisfied guests, however, there is one story which sticks out. Back in Egypt, I had a guest who wrote a letter complimenting the team and how we have helped him come out of a personal tragedy. This is when you realize that everyone who comes into the hotel has his own story and how we with our service and hospitality make that story memorable.
HospiBuz: Recently, Mumbai airport spokesperson announced about how the passengers travelling through airlines can collect their boarding passes from the hotels. What is your take on this; do you think it can be also expected in JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru if the Bangalore airport authority takes it forward?
Considering that we look at all possible ways to ease our guests and travelers overall experience through various internal platforms such as Mobile Check-in, Mobile Guest Service and much more, if permitted anytime in the near future, this is something we would also definitely like to offer our guests.
HospiBuz: Marriott International was recognized as “Great Place to Work,” by Corporate Equality Index. What are all in your view the facts which definitely make Marriott be a dream organization to be associated with?
Marriott International focuses on its associate is what makes it stand apart. Every team member has an equal opportunity to learn and grow. There is a strong emphasis on training and every associate has the access to digital learning platform where they can improve their skills and understanding.
Another reason that makes Marriott one of the great places to work is the fact that our hotels are located across the globe. While this is a definite advantage for our guests and travelers, it is also an advantage for our associates as it gives them an opportunity to garner experiences through internal transfers across cities and countries.
HospiBuz: Even though it is too early to ask, what are the specific points you would want to follow religiously to ensure the best hospitality for customers?
As a hotelier, I have only one mantra. Listen to your guests. This is something which I have imbibed and wish to inculcate within my team. We are as good as our guest’s perceptions. By listening carefully to them, we can continuously learn and improve our services.
HospiBuz: What are the major growth drivers according to you that have powered Marriott to have as many as 100 hotels in India already?
The growth in the travel industry and of course the growth in incomes across all sectors have been a major contributor for Marriott Hotels expanding in India.
With an increase in sectors such as medical tourism, a lot of cities including two-tier cities are noticing a surprising increase in the demand for rooms and meeting spaces. With such a demand, we’re looking at few more hotels in the coming years.
HospiBuz: Marriott provides up to 15% discount if the guest is above the age of 62, do you think this expands the market segment for Marriott?
Today our elderly have higher disposable incomes and much more adventurous mindsets. Traveling is a way for them to socialize in keeping them physically and mentally fit and engaged and of course opens new avenues for the hotels to come up with discounts and programs based on these ‘seenagers’ (senior teenagers) requirements.
Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!