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Motivation Mantra: Recognizing staff contributions & celebrating every success

Chronicling over three decades of high-impact leadership expertise and strategic experience across the hospitality sector, spanning the attainment of operational goals and profitability objectives to realize optimal corporate excellence, is the essence of Vishal Kapoor's career journey. With an illustrious career marked by rich and prolific experience in the realm of hospitality, Vishal has successfully navigated the intricacies of luxury hotels, retail, mixed-use development, and international QSR exposure. Here are excerpts from his interview with Better Kitchen.

What reasons guided you to join the hotel industry? Kindly give a short introduction and highlights about your career background.

Food and Beverage has been my core function & my passion through my hotel journey. Being an Army Officer’s son, discipline was inculcated very early. Respect for fellow men & team members are my core values. I attended a lot of army functions and a few of them in hotels. The core values of service being common to both, the army & hospitality sector and the high standards of delivery expected, drew me to join hospitality sector.       

What does a “typical day” look like as General Manager?

Working in a functional hotel isn’t easy, as it demands an exceptionally high level of personal involvement. Each day is different and tasks need to be prioritized for each day, by being proactive and ensuring that:

·              There is co-ordination amongst functional heads of the hotel with regards to guest service & operational effectiveness.

·              Daily morning & evening de-briefs are conducted with the sales team. This helps me understand the pulse of the market, roll out strategies & deploy tactical promotions.

·              Costs & revenues are aligned and that we are not overshooting on expenses.

·              Quality checks and controls are in place & initiate new measures, if any required, along with learning & quality control manager.

·              Property rounds happen at least 2-3 times every day, to ensure that the upkeep of the hotel is superlative.

·              Our guests enjoy an excellent dining experience.

·              We meet with our guests and take their feedbacks.

·              We capitalize on every possible opportunity to delight & wow our guests !!

·              All guests (including VIPs) are giving a warm welcome & making sure that every little need is taken care of & that our guests leave with fond memories which they will cherish.

·              I share my knowledge & experience with my team members during our team meetings.

·              I have atleast one meal at the staff cafeteria which helps me bond with the team at the grass roots and also check on the pulse of the team.

At work, what puts a smile on your face, and what motivates you? Can you relate a proudest moment of your career?

Doing the job better than anyone else can do & doing things which are out of box motivate me.

Brief the prominent issues facing staffing in the industry and do you see trends around wages & operational costs?

Hospitality sector has witnessed & continues to face shortage of skilled manpower. I think this is on account of the developments & opportunities in various other fields. I believe the only way to retain and grow talent is by providing team members functional training and ensure that we cultivate a feeling of belongingness at work. This training provides them with necessary skills which help them deliver results at work, which enables us chart their trajectory of growth in their respective fields. We follow applicable rules on wages as per state labour office circulars and make sure that we implement them diligently.

While there is little that one can do about fixed costs, the focus is on controlling the variables. It helps to be vigilant and undertake checks on par stocks, ensuring just in time inventories for operational requirements, reduction of wastage etc. to make sure that costs are under control. We continue to maintain our focus on constantly adopting the best practices to reduce wastage, control food portions and roll out innovative recipes in our business. 

What is the relevance of hiring Mutli-Tasking /Skilling staff?

We believe everyone has infinite potential within them, however potential is realized only when you provide the necessary environment for the potential to bloom. We ensure that team members are exposed to cross functional experiences, thereby giving them lateral exposure across the spectrum. For e.g. we could have a front office manager go out on sales calls and meet key trade partners, or the chef going out with the purchase manager to source supplies etc. This not only helps scales up the experience of each team member but also helps them understand challenges at the other end.Being exposed to multi-tasking and cross functional training enables a team member seamlessly fit in & fill in for his colleague / team member as & when the situation demands.

We have an ongoing learning culture, where we retain trained interns as job hires with a structured career graph growth plan for each. The career progression chart is carefully planned keeping in mind the strength of each of our team members, coupled with 360 degree evaluation.

Your ways to best motivate staff?

I think one of the best ways to motivate staff is to recognize their contributions and celebrate every success, small or big. I ensure that the concerned team members are thanked in person and I make sure I capture these “memorable moments” for both of us to cherish in our journey onwards.

Can you share what you believe is key in leading a successful hotel today?

In today’s competition key to lead a hotel success is keep your pulse on the market trends and scale up the deliveries to meet market expectations. The market today is dynamic and fast changing. Customer expectations change rapidly and one needs to be geared to cater to these ever changing needs without loosing sight of the costs involved. It’s about maintain the right balance between expectations and costs. In addition new hotels / newer destinations are emerging with every passing day, giving customers more options to choose. It’s therefore imperative that our service is top of the line and that we ensure that our guests have a memorable experience.

What do you think the next few years hold for the hospitality sector and its growth?

There have been immense strides made in our infrastructure and I think this will provide a strong foundation for the growth of the hospitality sector. India has a young work force which will need to travel for work & leisure purposes. C tier cities are seeing an immense boost in infrastructure and economic development which should augur well for hotels in these cities too.

How do you support your teams during the constant stress of workload as well as adaptations to SOPs post Covid?

Our teams are versatile, adaptive, and capable of developing their skills each day as they learn with fun. We train our teams on emotional intelligence so they are able to negotiate the intricacies of interpersonal connections, manage disagreements amicably and develop solid professional partnerships. SOPs post covid – we invented modern fast-paced work strategies as we learnt to modify and adapt. Also seeking out new information, maintaining awareness helped us to grow.

Which are the F&B initiatives you are devising / employing to entice & improve Non-Resident Guest Covers?

We are a resort hotel, located away from the metro cities of Mumbai & Pune and therefore almost 96% of our food & beverage revenue is driven by guests in house. Many of our guests book themselves on a plan before check in & this makes it slightly difficult to get an additional share of the wallet. F&B Initiatives are therefore thoughtfully designed keeping in mind the demographics of our guests. For e.g. we have designed Satvic menus for our Gujrathi & Jain patrons and this has been received exceeding well. For lovers of sea food we have our coastal thali at Kokum & Spice, an exquisite choice of martinis at our Piano Bar that are sure to delight the discerning connoisseur.

Sustainability has become increasingly important in most industries today. What measures or practices do you have in place to conserve the environment?

Environment is our collective responsibility and sustainability is a critical component of our industry. We use ecofriendly products and packaging materials at hotel including supplies and amenities. Our Best practices adoption to reduce carbon emissions, minimize waste, and conserve natural resources has been resulted our operational gains. We manage our own composting facilities and encourage sustainable waste management.

(Vishal Kapoor, General Manager - Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug)

(This story has been published under arrangement from Better Kitchen magazine)


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