Working tirelessly with the notion of recognizing coworkers for their work, Upaul Majumdar, general manager at Soaltee Crowne Plaza, has been materializing his experience of over three decades for the betterment of the hospitality fraternity. He received three awards in 2019, for his exemplary work in the hospitality sector. Entitled with the Asia's Best General Manager (Hospitality) award in 2018, Majumdar believes it is not just about doing business but taking care of the people who work for the company. Republica's Muna Sunuwar caught up with Majumdar to talk about the status, human resource management and Soaltee's preparation for VNY 2020, among others.Excerpts:
How do you see the hospitality sector of Nepal? How has it changed over the years?
The hospitality sector of Nepal is growing and we are seeing international brands coming into Nepal. If they are coming in, obviously they have seen good future for the growth of tourism. I am optimistic about how it is going; I think it will go very well. The whole business has changed. Earlier the focus was on great operations, but now it is beyond that. There has been change with an intense level of personalization in line with the introduction of digital technology and a changing generation. The clients want you to communicate through social media and we need to stay alert on their presence in social media.
What does the award mean to you? What kind of challenges do you think a manager needs to tackle in order to maintain a company's status?
The award is the recognition for an individual's performance and when I get an award, it is not only for me, it is an indication of the work done by the whole team.
As a hotel manager, it is very important that you get the right returns for the owners who have invested in the asset. It is about how you run and manage the asset and retain its value. The management of relations not only with customers but also with employees and shareholders is very important.
How do you manage the workforce that belongs to different generations?
Soaltee Crowne Plaza is a very strong brand and when we look into how the delivery should happen, we have a very clear standard operating procedure. We spend a lot of effort in training people and in the training, you can find people of different ages. They attend the same training and the expectation from what they need to do is the same. We have a mandated training that everybody needs to attend. Recognition of people for their work is an integral part and we have got a lot of recognition and rewards in place for those who do a good job.
With the recent launch of international hotels in Nepal, do you think the standard of hotels is set high?
Yes, the recently launched international brands are guided by international global brand standards. Those standards come from international markets where the competition is global. The standard that you are getting in Nepal is no longer Nepali but is an international standard.
Where does Soaltee Hotel lie in the crowd of star hotels?
This is a hotel with great history and a legacy. We build on those things as those are our strengths. We are not in the price game at all as I don't believe in price reduction. If you are confident about your product and service, it is not necessary. On the flip side, when you reduce price, you drop the standard and cost. One of our strategies to counter the aggressive introduction of new hotels is not compromising the legacy we have maintained over the years.
How is Soaltee preparing for VNY 2020?
We are working with the coordinator of VNY 2020 campaign. We have contributed our support in terms of how this journey should go ahead. Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) has announced to provide 30% discount on room tariff at its member hotels, resorts and guesthouse and 15% on food to foreigners visiting Nepal. We are supporting all these endeavors. We have put VNY signs and branding in the lobby of Soaltee. Within InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) there are 4,000 to 6,000 hotels worldwide and we are trying to promote Nepal through the packages available on our websites.
Despite mushrooming hotels in Nepal, development of infrastructure is still a far cry. What is your take on this?
Infrastructure development is important and needs to be improved. But there are many things happening in Nepal so let's put all those things together on a positive note. At the policy level, the government needs to take a call whether to work on getting huge volume of tourists which might contribute to environmental degradation or to focus on bringing higher paying tourists.