MyTravaly's Hotelier Interview Series-Puja Guest House, Bihar
Mr. Vijay Kumar, the owner of 'Puja Guest House' at Bodhgaya, Bihar talk about the challenges and visions of managing a guest house at a pilgrimage site, the guest house is at a kilometer's distance away from the main temple and offer a peaceful ambience to spiritual tourists along with good customer service and experience. He has also shared his experience and revival from the pandemic and the relevance of online booking sites in the present landscape.
Ans- As an owner, my day to day responsibilities include all the administrative works, strategy and planning, marketing plans, overall accounting including payments and receivable, generate sales through networking, advertising, online booking, customer service duties including phone calls, etc, revaluating overall performance as well as management of staffs and sales.
2. How does the training of staff happen, and what do you do to bring the best in your employees so that they provide good customer service?
Ans- Regarding the training of staffs, every day in the morning we check for the number of 'check-ins' scheduled for the day and accordingly instruct the staffs, make sure they are ready, double-check the room have been cleaned, and restock all the utility and amenities, etc, likewise according to the check-outs We've already trained them about the behavior and efforts they need to put in to provide great customer service as our priority is the same.
3.Tell us something about your long term goals for the hotel and how do you plan to achieve them?
Ans- we don't have very high ambitions regarding our growth because our guests and occupancy is seasonal, it is really a rush for 3-4 months and then the sale is mediocre throughout the rest of the year. We intend to maintain and also upgrade this guest house first like we want to appoint some qualified housekeeping staff for better customer service, managers to look after everything on our behalf and handle the business like his own, some marketing professionals for our better online promotions and marketing to increase bookings also in the offseason.
4. What is a success for a hotelier, according to you?
Ans- According to me honestly, success of a hotelier is the customer's satisfaction which is even more important to us than our tariffs decided by us, we can compromise upon the rate fixed for once, offer discounts for our customers of he/she isn't satisfied, but a pissed off or unsatisfactory check-out or review is something that we want to avoid at all costs through a completely personalized service, it is sorrowful for us also, we want the customer to remain satisfied while leaving at all costs that's where we aim at.
5. Something that is unique to your hotel and has given you any kind of advantage in this industry over time.
Ans- Nothing very special as such because ours is a guest house, not a hotel so we don't provide food service yet a unique thing about our guest house is the ambience and locale of the guest house which is situated at a distance and away from the main city buzz which brings to us the spiritual guests who come for some sort of meditation, attend preachings and follow Buddhists culture and lifestyle which is quite of spiritual and demands solitude and little silence than the city life, so the environment is such that these kinds of people enjoy a lot and always tend to stay more than they had actually planned, so the setting of our guest house has paved us an advantage which the guests who prefer a silent atmosphere away from the humdrum of city life.
6.How does the quality of leadership affect the role of a person at your position.
Ans- According to me it is important because if there's no one to guide for the day to day activities to the staffs like check-ins, check-outs, the improvisation, decisions, proper cleaning and maintenance they won't be able to manage all by themselves when sometimes we totally depend upon them with the jobs on a busy day they aren't able to carry effective management by themselves and end up having some issues or the other which is inevitable upon their end.
7. What was the impact of the pandemic on your hotel? If bookings reduced, by how much?
Ans- The pandemic had a harsh impact upon the tourism industry including the hotels, resorts, and guest houses, so we had almost zero bookings in 4 -5 months like from March to June-July, then we reached for online promotion, marketing, and tie-ups and from that, we started getting bookings in September, which even improved in October and it went fine, all the bookings were done online and very few of them as offline not much, so slowly the situation is coming back to normal and we believe it'll all certainly be back to the normal with some precautions.
8. How has your hotel been tackling this crisis situation?
Ans- we are strictly following the guidelines issued by the Home ministers regarding the Covid19 safety standards and maintaining them, we are taking special care regarding hygiene and cleanliness in every department of the guest house and paying special attention to the customers regarding their preferences of room service and other hygiene-related doubts, essentials such as gloves, masks, and sanitizers are being provided to everyone who visits and minimized the use of every object that is touched by multiple people. We property sanitize and disinfect every room attentively on a daily basis after every check-out and before every check-in.
9. Can you share a positive and negative overwhelming experience with your customers?
Ans- We generally encounter two kinds of customers, one who are quite amicable and directly complaint about what they don't find up to the mark which we resolve and then they're good to go but there are some who readily enter with a notion that the property is unsatisfactory, to them however we treat and look after their needs they're tough to satisfy.
10. What would be your message to travelers for rescuing the hospitality industry?
Ans- My message would be that - yes this is Covid situation right now and being afraid of the scenario is very normal but we, hoteliers are taking every precaution, thoroughly following all the safety standards to keep you safe and sound during your stay in our properties so no need to panic if you have an urgent work or issue to address for which you need to travel, we're all equipped and up to date with the present scenario's requirements and would welcome you and try to ensure your safest stay at our place. Check out our today's price.