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From the Desk of Mr. Rishi Puri Vice President, Lords Hotels & Resorts

31/01/2018

Mr. Rishi Puri is a pioneer in Hotel Industry with over 25 years of work experience and is presently the Vice President of Lords Hotels & Resorts

HospiBuz brings you an exclusive interview, straight from the words of Mr. Rishi Puri, to know more about how he evolved from his experiences, his journey and his views on current market trends.

HospiBuz: What motivated and influenced the most you in your early days to join the hotel industry?

Mr. Rishi Puri: I’ve been asked this question on more than one occasions but I don’t have a very definitive or one singling out evidence of why I chose a career in hospitality. One of the things that definitely drove me towards this LOB was wearing the uniform. In my youth, I was inclined to serving in Defence Forces only for my fascination of the military uniform. I dreamt of being in the uniform and be part of the disciplinarian profession however could not make it through the medical entrance and had to give up on that dream. Upon asking myself which other profession would mandate wearing uniforms and has discipline as a prerequisite of the profession, I found hospitality calling out at me. Even while I was finishing my education in Hotel Management, the prospect of wearing that uniform that I held so dear all along, was as much thrilling as it was about meeting new people from different backgrounds and cultures.

As we know, hospitality has as rich a history. Travel has been a part of human civilization and people have been travelling since time immemorial. The industry is all about diversity and opportunity. Hospitality is a sector that requires one to work in a multi-cultural environment. Working in a hotel does not mean that internationalism within the establishment is limited to your clients. People at the reception, in the kitchen and in the back-office come from all corners of the world and they bring along with them their own language, culture and ideas and that diversity also helps us learn on how to efficiently work within the industry. The hospitality industry provides room for growth. It allows an individual to develop oneself both professionally and personally. Not only one gets to hone their professional skills, but with time and commitment the industry provides a wide exposure to learning things from the diversity of colleagues, clients and situations that will put one to the test from time to time.

The reason why I love hospitality so much is simply that, it’s fun, it’s the most enjoyable place to be.

HospiBuz: You have been in Hospitality profession since 25 years where you must have worked in different capacities and in a different organisation. How has been your experience with Lords group of hotels so far?

Mr. Rishi Puri:  I have learned a lot of things from my previous assignments and from the experiences that came along with them. After passing from the Hotel School, I began with hands-on experience as a butler at Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi. I am very thankful to all the previous organizations I worked with which transformed me from being a novice to what I am today. I think I did a good job wherever I worked and my performance was excellent but the quest to learn and perform better has kept me going. It is in this quest to continuously improve and evolve that I met my present employer who promised me a career and not just a job. I haven’t looked back ever since and in last five years I have learnt, grown and enjoyed every bit of my assignment with Lords Hotels & Resorts. The topmost management has shown confidence in me and has allowed me to work in an independent work environment which I believe is the crux to knowing if you are heading in the right direction. The organization has provided me with enough bandwidth to experiment and to take calculated risks which in many cases, has resulted in positive developments for us. The team here has been like a family to me and I am thankful for being part of it.

HospiBuz: Lords group has been running quite successfully in India and Nepal with a number of properties in all over the country. How important it is for business growth to expand in neighbouring Asian countries with different cultures and customer base. Are there any further plans for expansion after Nepal?

Mr. Rishi Puri:  Lords Hotels & Resorts today is a chain of twenty-six true value, mid-market segment hotels and resorts spread across India and in Nepal and expanding. In fact, we are focusing on Nepal and scouting for more viable destinations as there is a big void in the mid-market segment of hotels in the country. Alongside, we are also keenly studying and mapping the international markets mainly in the Middle East, Africa and our neighbouring South-East Asian countries. Presently as a brand, we are positioned to both enhance our reputation and meet the expectation of global travellers with our distinguished offerings. A majority of tourists, whether domestic or foreign, look at receiving value for money. This is where we have positioned ourselves with our competitive tariffs and impeccable quality.

HospiBuz: The dynamics of hospitality market has changed quite a bit in past few years with new trends setting that are tech-savvy and attractive to the younger How do you keep your business up to date to cope up with such challenges and changing market trends?

Mr. Rishi Puri:  Market dynamics have changed over the years and Lords Hotels & Resorts has kept itself abreast of the change in trends. Keeping the ideology of true value in place, we have evolved to meet the expectations of the new consumer. We have witnessed a surge in popularity of several OTAs and travel aggregators. This model worked in our favour as we are rightly positioned to offer just what the customer is looking for when they are filtering through the thousands of choices available online. Also, we have been open to learning, taking constructive feedback from our guests and implementing changes where required. The present Gen Y has adapted to the convenience and efficiency of online purchasing. The millennials have transitioned from the traditional static to the more evolved responsive marketplace and so, we have incorporated adjustments in our website to complement the trend.

We have been offering facilities that are in sync with the changing times such as online bookings which are essential for many corporates, MICE, and foreign travellers. We facilitate easy booking and cancellation process; make the hotel bookings available via OTA platforms since many consumers prefer booking travel and hotel together, flexibility in check in and checkout wherever possible especially for business travellers, among other facilities.

HospiBuz: With current demonetization policy by the government, do you think this would affect hotel industry as well because population may slow down in spending on luxury? How would be the market for Hotel Industry in 2017 after this change?

Mr. Rishi Puri:  In the months to come we anticipate a stagnation in bookings as a consequence of the demonetization decision made earlier in November. However, more than the impact of demonetization we think the GST implementation at the end of the Financial Year may slow down the spending on luxury. At present we understand, the GST on service oriented enterprises may be taxed in the 18 per cent taxation slab which is not favourable for the Indian hotel industry. Most of Asia and mainly our neighbouring tourism countries have a Service Tax ranging between 5 and 7 per cent and this difference rules out us being any competition with these countries. We are neutral on growth for the hotel industry for the following year or the years to come, until there is a change in policies and taxation for us.

HospiBuz: What sort of advice you would like to give to our budding hotel management students, managers and hoteliers on how to be efficient and effective in running a hotel, so as to get an edge over the competitors?

Mr. Rishi Puri:  The foremost thing I would advise students planning on making a career in hospitality is to embrace diversity and build stamina for being perseverant. I think in this field, these are the two most important aspects that will determine how far and how fast one can get. As a default, anyone entering this industry has to be self-disciplined, organised and punctual at all times. One has to inculcate these qualities if they don’t presently practice them because without these, one won’t be able to make any progress. Once you have successfully adapted to all of the above and practised these virtues, you have won the battle. The rest is about genuinely liking what you do on a day-to-day basis and serving with sincerity.

Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!

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