Shridhar Nair, GM of The Leela Goa

Age : 42 Years
Name of the Hotel : The Leela Goa
Duration of Career : 22 years

Q1. What is the key secret to your success?

Hard work and passion

Q2. If the authority permits you, what changes or additions would you bring about in the courses of IHM (Institute of Hotel Management)?

More of practical sessions in the colleges and in addition to 6 months industrial training, 3 months of specializing training in the final year. Most of the students get the feel of the industry only in the 6 months training. Once they have decided on which department to pursue, the specialization training would be very beneficial and they will be job ready but the end of it.

Q3. What would you recommend to the readers and youngsters, wishing to join this profession?

The hospitality sector is on a growth path with increased Tourism and many job opportunities are there for the youth. Therefore it is a great career option. You will find many students who have complete Engineering to be without a job after their course; but a hotel management student, if having the right attitude, will surely have a job as soon as he/she completes the course.

They must also know that this industry does not offer white collar office jobs. There is a lot of hard work required. Normal shift timing is for 9 hours but get extendable by another 2-3 hours very often. Also, employees are on their feet all the time – which can get tiring. And most importantly when the whole world is celebrating holidays, festivals etc. hoteliers are the busiest during that time because they are facilitating others to enjoy and have a memorable time.

So I suggest that, if you are willing to work really hard for at least the first five years of your career – hoteliering is meant for you.

Q4. As per your opinion, what can be done differently, to retain the guests, for a longer period of time?

The biggest thing we can continue to do is to focus on service excellence to retain the guests. I had read somewhere that “the taste of low quality lingers much longer than the satisfaction of low price”.
Hospitality is ingrained in our Indian culture and tourists love India for that. We must give them good service in safe environment with focus on high quality products.

Q5. What are the basic needs of the employees, you believe, should be taken care of, by the management and motivate them for better performance?

The hygiene factors i.e. the basic needs such as uniforms, lockers, cafeteria, good equipment and clear SOPs. Once all these are in place, then the employees can focus on the important things such as looking after the guests.

Q6. What plays a major role, in enhancing the guest’s experience?

Anticipatory service – which money can’t buy. This is basically giving services or things to the guest, which they need, without them asking about it. This comes with experience and it truly distinguishes the best from the good.

Q7. How do you function differently, to make your hotel more preferable than the others?

With a very high focus on quality – both of products and employees. There is no compromise. Training of employees is a very important aspect to ensure that we deliver what we promise our guests.

Q8. What are the crucial areas to be focused by the authorities, to make Goa, the most preferred tourist destination?

Goa is already a preferred tourist destination due to its tropical weather. In last few years a lot is being done in terms of road construction. Steps are also being taken for garbage disposal problem. For the bigger hotels like our, the taxation is a challenge – 28% is seen as too steep by the tourists when other countries who want to rapidly grow Tourism is charging only 5% to 8% taxes.

Q9. According to you, what gives you more revenue? F& B or Accommodations?

At The Leela Goa, we get more revenue from accommodation as we have very high ARRs and it is a resort hotel – we cater mainly to the guests staying with us. But in business hotels like The Leela Palace Chennai, F&B contribution is more than the rooms as it has large banqueting facilities.

Q10. What else, in your opinion, can be done to enhance the guest’s experience?

Like mentioned earlier, quality service in safe environs is what is needed by the guests. A more personalized experience will also enhance guests’ experiences.

Q11. What message would you like to convey to your guests to avail your best services?

Just step in the resort and leave the rest to us to handle!

Q12. Are there any career opportunities in the hotel industry for students without a degree in Hotel Management? If yes, then what is the procedure to do so and what are the growth opportunities for such students?

There are many institutions offering diplomas – ranging from 1 year to 3 years. There is Apprenticeship program run by the State government which also ensures good stipend.