MyTravaly's Hotelier Interview Series - Sapphire Inn
Mr Riyaaz, Managing Director of Sapphire Inn, Lakkasandra, Wilson Garden, Bengaluru, talks about the importance of budgetary pricing and indelible customer service which get customers to return, he basically holds experience in hosting customers of medical tourism mainly of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) due to the location of the hotel and elaborate his plans on augmenting the accommodation services for medical travelers.
As a Managing Director, what is your day-to-day work or responsibilities?
As a managing director, my day to day duties and responsibilities include setting up and managing the staff, taking care of all day to day activities, online requirements of promotions, updating inventory, checking for customer complaints and reports, online marketing and managing overall hotel targets for a mesmerizing guest experience. Checking for operation functions, handling complaints, service recovery procedures, ensuring revenue and customer satisfaction, short term and long term goals for the hotel, monitoring business reports, maximizing sales and revenues.
How does training of staff happen, and what do you do to bring the best in your employees so that they provide good customer service?
To ensure good customer service, we always prefer an experienced and mature individual over an inexperienced chap to avoid misbehaviour and ensure attentiveness to customer expectations and needs even before they start staying because a smooth check in process sets the reputation and impression of the hotel.
I especially prefer all managers over forty and a good experience is must. As a managerial position and its responsibilities demand prudence, maturity and experience which ripens with age in the hotel industry. I also prefer staff with specialization in more than 2 languages due to customers visiting from across the nation and ensure easy communication and expression for better service for customers from every part of the world. I regularly try to train them to focus on good customer service and minimize complaints by fulfilling customer expectations by going beyond their duties assigned for better experience of customers. I also try to look for the employees’ needs and benefits for their satisfaction and better performance.
How does your hotel encourage trust and loyalty amongst customers?
Our staff go the extra mile to meet customer expectations to offer an impeccable service. We often take certain appointments and reservations on behalf of our customers, even before their arrival and try to cater every single needs of patients especially.
Often staffs assist along with patients to the hospital, reaching doctors, taking appointments also guiding them for local exploration and amusement, make arrangements for them, assist them for flight reservation tickets and likewise the other possible assistance is provided by us and so the same customers return to us again and again due to the pleasant experience.
Tell us something about your long term goals for the hotel and how do you plan to achieve them?
I had started earlier with three properties under me and had planned to expand it to ten till 2020 but couldn't reach due to some reason and have planned to achieve definitely by next year in the Bangalore market and also Kerala domain for tourists. We already have a new property recently launched at NIMHANS. We're planning to launch our service apartments exclusively for patients who need to stay till two weeks or more than that, with all the facilities of cooking, etc. to provide comfort to the patients.
What is success for a hotelier, according to you?
According to me, success for a hotelier is its customers satisfaction which depends upon the kind of service and hygiene along with a reasonable tariff in this competitive industry.
Something that is unique to your hotel and has given you any kind of advantage in this industry overtime.
We focus on maintaining a budget friendly accomodation in almost luxury level facilities also including power back-up, car rental etc. We also maintain the same tariff throughout the year including the peak seasons which start from as low as 600-700 INR . We're also planning an expansion on our budget friendly property with similar tariffs for guests who prefer budgetary accommodation. There are some things that we try to maintain and often paves us an advantage in this rising competition.
How does the quality of leadership affect the role of a person at your position?
For me leadership means correct guidance, which in any way doesn't imply towards his/her physical presence therefore by every possible means I try to monitor and mentor my staff members wherever they need me. The quality of leadership has a major role on any person at my position who has to monitor five to ten properties through camera, phone calls and regular meet-up, one needs proper planning and execution at this position to drive the business towards positive direction and growth.
What was the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on your hotel? If bookings are reduced, by how much? Any change in type of customers coming in?
The crisis situation has firstly taken away our tourist customers due to restriction on different public and private transport which also has led to a sharp decline in medical customers as well. The situation was threatening in the beginning but eventually we have seen a very gradual uplift in the travel as of now people have started attending and organising though by sticking to a certain margin, we have already witnessed 30% to 40% reservation compared to Feb'20 and March'20 and soon expect 50% of the revenue as things have started towards normalisation. We're basically expecting medical and corporate customers with urgent meet-up and health concerns and cannot predict anything about leisure tourists as of now.
How has your hotel been tackling this crisis situation?
We've been relying on discounts, price cuts, improved hygiene and sanitation facilities to tackle the situation for safe and sound stay for our customers to build loyalty and increase their re-visit through a comfortable stay.
Can you share a positive and negative overwhelming experience with your customers?
Some customers are hard to please! Irrespective of that, more than business, we focus on our customers' comfort and needs. We try hard to give them a special experience.
What would be your message to travellers for reviving the hospitality industry?
After a long and tiring journey, we try to provide everything for your comfort. We would like the customers to trust us as we are undertaking the best efforts. Customers’ health and safety is our top priority. Check out our comfortable rooms & tariffs