I haven’t been a hotelier all my career so I have some understanding of a couple of other industries as well.
And even without that, I would have agreed that each sector enjoys some unique characteristics that you can’t find elsewhere.
For instance, medical representatives have to deal with and win over doctors - professionals who are more educated and more learned than the medical reps. Or hairdressers, whose primary challenge lies in convincing customers not go for a certain hair-cut that, in the opinion of the hairdresser, won't suit the client. You get the point.
Here’s four things that I love about the hospitality industry (and they're unique to the industry):
1. Meeting people outside the workplace
While we are a business enterprise, we never meet our customers in their office - it's always ours.
Families stay with us to relax and unwind so there aren't too many surprises there. But with business conferences, things change. On the one hand, we are a resort, not a business hotel so the overall atmosphere is pleasantly informal. On the other, conference participants are in business mode.
And at that time, it’s interesting to see C-suite executives discuss a new product under the shades of trees. Or senior managers come up with unique business strategies as they stroll through our kitchen gardens.
It's really interesting to see people in a completely different mood, almost a different set of mind.
In our early years, a snack-food company had organized a 2-day conference at our resort. The founder, a 73-year old patriarch, had built the company, right from a small setup to a multi-crore company. Street-smart and demanding, he was known to be a tough taskmaster.
When the first day ended, his team members looked tired, to say the least. Apparently he had lived upto his reputation.
After an early dinner, he strolled through the dimly lit garden. And to the surprise of everyone, he broke into an old Hindi song! (We’re located in a dry state, so it couldn’t have been alcohol!) Soon, he asked a few managers to join him. They were surprised, perhaps dazed. Soon, it turned into a mini mehfil!
Apparently, some things changed with that. The next day, the whole team lunched and dined in a much more relaxed mood. And even the founder appeared less tensed.
When we serve our guests at our locations, we often get to see a side no one else has seen before.
2. Doing things that don't bring money
Our being located in a famous temple-town gives us ample opportunities to don the role of a tourist information center.
We regularly receive guests who have never been to Gujarat before, let alone Dwarka. And because they want it to be a memorable experience, they want to know everything about Dwarka.
Most people don’t know this but we (and most hotels) spend a good deal of time talking to guests, helping them plan various tours and sharing with them everything we know about Dwarka.
We don’t earn anything out of this activity, but it gives us a window through which we learn more about our guests.
We get to understand their preferences and choices and that helps us serve them slightly better.
Though this activity doesn't bring in a dime, we thoroughly enjoy it.
3. Making guests feel special with small acts
We are a beautiful resort, but we know we are no Taj Green Cove. So we remind ourselves of Avis’ famous ad:
“We are no.2 so we try harder.”
We focus on small things and try to see how we can make our guests feel special.
Dwarka attracts people of all age groups. We often have couples in their mid-50’s with young adult “children.” They come with (mostly) divergent plans.
Last winter we had a family of five stay with us: father, mother, two sons and a daughter. The parents were more focused on the religious aspect of Dwarka, while the two sons sounded more keen on exploring the beautiful seaside locales. The daughter, however, seemed interested only in catching up with the books she had brought along!
Once we noticed it, we set up a comfortable chair and a small table under a clump of small trees for her. She beamed and thanked us more than once! And wrote about us on her social media account!
While we are not sure if we got any more guests because of her, we sure won the hearts of the family!
4. Being multi-skilled - and sometimes getting schooled
The size of our resort doesn’t allow us a full-time in-house electrician or plumber or carpenter.
Yes you guessed it: we become self trained in multiple trades! And it is fun! But sometimes our guests surprise us too!
This reminds me of a very unusual incident!
Dwarka is regularly chosen as the location for “Saptaahs” (week-long religious discourses). Traditionally, couples attend this function as it is considered a matter of great religious importance.
In April 2017, we had a doctor couple staying with us, attending a Saptaah. On the third day, some kids (not the couple's) were running around in the lounge. They went into hyper mode and somehow one of our wooden chairs crashed outside the patio and broke.
As a staff-member went to bring the "chair" back, the couple asked if we had a tool set and some adhesive (we did). They both immediately got working. They seemed both skilled and passionate about carpentry, especially the lady! Within about twenty minutes they fixed up the chair like it had never been damaged!
And our staff learned a thing or two!
The fun continues
Running a resort is great fun, because you get to live a lot closer to nature.
But it also takes a great deal of hard work. Every day, especially in the peak season, we learn new things. Sometimes we make mistakes, but most of the times we delight our guests.
And yet the learning never stops, because we meet so many new people every year.
Yes, that's exactly what I love the most about the hospitality industry.