If the GM is not walking the talk, then it can not be expected that middle management will take a different approach
From your experience, what are the major challenges for CEOs and General Managers in the industry?
Maintaining profit margins in a dynamic market is very tough. As we wow our guests with a unique service today, tomorrow it becomes the norm and then becomes a cost of doing business. For example if one chain
decides to include airport pick ups in the rate, the customer expects this from all hotels in the market. This is not limited to India but the key to the success in this situation is to understand the customer and the value perception inherent to that particular market segment. Offering blanketed discount on something that a guest did not expect just leaves potential revenues on the table and does nothing for the satisfaction of your guests. The same can be said for our people. The expectations of job security and remuneration are exactly the same. A wow today is a norm tomorrow. Engagement of our people is the key.
Which functions in your organization do you see as the most crucial for your competitive advantage?
The answer boils down to having HR savvy strategies. While Human Resources divisions are of course crucial, the entire hotel has to see themselves in the role of an HR champion. If the GM is not walking the talk, then it can not be expected that middle management will take a different approach. The associates who are engaged and satisfied in their day to day duties will of course treat the guests and there colleagues in a far more hospitable manner. Look after the associate, who looks after the guests, who keep coming back. It is that simple.
There is increasing focus on the perceived shortage of skilled manpower in the hospitality industry. What do you see are the causes of this talent crunch and the ways to overcome them?
There will indeed be shortage of skilled manpower; however the key is to retain the people that you have. In many countries students in Hospitality fields are required to go and get paid work in hotels as part of their degree. This is not at all like the industrial training we see in India. This is done without assistance from the college. This has a multiple fold effect. It enables the student to get industrial exposure under a far more realistic paid environment. It gives them at least 3 years head start in the industry and it creates a real time scenario of balancing work and life.
Matthew Cooper is the General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon