‘All CITCO properties have their distinct features’

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Updated: May 11, 2016 12:01 PM

Hotel Mountview in Chandigarh occupies a place of pride in the CITCO (Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Development Corporation) portfolio. Rakesh Rawat, GM, Hotel Mountview talks about the evolving hospitality scenario in the region and the challenges of guest/ talent retention By Reema Lokesh

Hotel Mountview in Chandigarh occupies a place of pride in the CITCO (Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Development Corporation) portfolio. Rakesh Rawat, GM, Hotel Mountview talks about the evolving hospitality scenario in the region and the challenges of guest/ talent retention By Reema Lokesh

How do you witness Chandigarh as a business destination and growth city?

201605etw25Chandigarh aka City Beautiful is a growing destination. The domestic traveller is still discovering the city. An excellent IT park is awaiting its full bloom and the advantages of having the business areas of Mohali, Panchkula and Zirakpur make it an ideal destination for social events and incentivised MICE.

Does the city hold potential for a vibrant hospitality business. If yes, why?

Yes indeed, Chandigarh happens to be a midpoint halt for people visiting Shimla and nearby destinations. Even a one night’s stay leaves the traveller enchanted with what the city offers with respect to the parks, Sukhna Lake, Rock Garden and heritage structures like Capitol Complex designed by Le Corbusier. It would be unfair not to mention the efforts of the administration in maintaining traffic discipline and cleanliness in addition to other services provided for the citizens of Chandigarh.

What is the USP of your property and the others in the CITCO portfolio?

All CITCO properties have their distinct features. Hotel Mountview Chandigarh is a five star hotel, the first one of its kind in the city ideally situated and easily accessible to the business district, shopping malls and places of entertainment. Shivalik View is a four star property situated in the evergreen Sector 17 of Chandigarh and Parkview is a busy mid-segment hotel and runs a full house practically. Each of the hotels has their own potential with respect to business and have their loyal guests from decades.

How do you position your property in the city and beyond?

Spread over approximately 6.2 acres, Hotel Mountview is five star business hotel suitable to hold meetings and conferences. We have a large market share for wedding seasons as we have the best lawns in a five star hotel here. The hotel boasts of two large lawns which combined can accommodate 1,500 guests. We definitely have an edge in this sector with our rightly priced menus.

How do you analyse the region of Punjab and Haryana as business zones for hospitality investments?

Both regions have immense potential. We need to just activate certain factors to add the leisure segments. Punjab and Haryana, both have easy access to Chandigarh and thus there is great synergy between the three regions: undoubtedly, the best example of a symbiotic relationship between three areas.

There is potential for which category of hotels?

With the growing desires of the youth travelling in search of challenges and the phenomenal push the start ups are giving them, I strongly feel there is a need for the mid-market and lower segment hotels. By mid-market and lower segments, I mean to say that comfort and quality need not be compromised, but have the same at no recurring costs to the hotel. With the room aggregator business taking its toll and challenging the large operators, these segments in cities like Chandigarh are making a kill.

What are the F&B trends in the region?

Chandigarh is a city of people who are widely travelled and are well informed. It also happens to be the capital of Punjab and Haryana. Guests here are fond of all international cuisines and an evening out to experiment is not ruled out. My take on the trends is that classical Indian food rules the region, followed by pan Asian cuisine.

What are the challenges in terms of human resource, talent search and skills development?

Human resource has its fair share of challenges of bringing in the right kind of talent. Fortunately for Chandigarh, we still do manage to get good talent. Hotel Mountview has very experienced staff. This has proved to our advantage and attrition has been low for us. We are constantly, with the help of IHM and CIHM Chandigarh, trying to impart skill training and carrying out various certifications for the staff of the hotel. ‘Hunar Se Rozgar’ is an excellent medium of imparting skill development to the needy, so that they can be made to sustain themselves.

What are your challenges as a general manager?

As general managers, it has become extremely challenging for us to retain guests as well as talent. The guest is constantly looking to better the deal and the talent is constantly looking to move to a different property or to a different city, based on the comfort levels the individual is seeking. Thus one needs to be innovative all the times to retain both.

What is your message, as a general manager, for future hospitality talent?

As anyone in the hospitality industry will confirm, general managers have their work cut out for them. It can take up to 15 to 20 years to become a hotel general manager. This long and bumpy road is undoubtedly filled with excitement and accomplishments as well as challenges and sleepless nights. While some qualities of a successful hotel general manager may seem innate, such as composure, patience, being a ‘people person’, and leadership, to name a few; most hoteliers will tell you that a lot of blood, sweat and tears is involved to get to the top of the ladder. Years of experience in different areas of the industry have got you to a nice office, but don’t get too comfortable. With so many meetings, emails, and administrative tasks to attend to, it’s easy to get trapped. Spend too much time in the office and you may lose track of what is happening in the ‘front of house’. So make it a practice to spend a little time each day walking around the hotel, helping the front desk, directing and motivating employees, inspecting rooms, interacting with a guest or two. This will help you understand your employees, guests and hotel better.

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