'There have been dramatic changes in guests’ stay expectations'

While short-term plans for hotels include keeping the business afloat and retaining talent, long-term plans for most are in ‘cold storage’, shares Tejus Jose, General Manager, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel

With a rich experience spanning over two decades, Tejus Jose is known for his leadership skills, strategic thinking, and expertise in sales, marketing, MICE and revenue management in the hospitality industry. A highly motivated and dynamic professional, Jose is at the helm of affairs at the Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel as its General Manager. Excerpts from an interview:

The Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel is strategically located in the Central business district, making it convenient for the business travellers. How is the business travel progressing?

The hotel’s location is technically Central Business District yet away from the crazy frenzy of the City Centre. This makes it a convenient location for many business houses, traders and corporate executives alike. Most travellers can be broadly classified into two parts: Indian organisations and Western organisations of which the Indian ones, especially non-tech based have started to travel albeit not with the same intensity as pre-pandemic (not just 6yet). We also see non-tech enabled industries travelling, such as manufacturing, SMEs and MSMEs. From single digit occupancy percentages a few months ago, the CBD area of Bangalore is clocking between 55-65 per cent. Some hotels with smaller inventories are even clocking 75+ per cent occupancies. The business recovery time post the second wave is far faster than what was seen post the first wave.

Pavilion Suite Terrace

How has hotel been positioned in the market and how does the Marriott brand leverage your business prospects?

The Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel is Marriott’s lifestyle brand and the only one at that in the city of Bengaluru. This alone makes it a unique offering for guests who are lifestyle-conscious and wish to stay and be associated with such a brand. Moreover, the hotel has some unique characteristics: it’s not the classical chandelier-studded, mirror-finish marble floor hotel with piano pouring out from the ambient music speakers. On the contrary, its interiors are very contemporary, stylish and quirky. For instance, the lobby floor is leather-finished imported marble, the lobby has two large ottomans for seating, led-pendant lights from the ceiling and peppy Western numbers for ambient music.

What is the USP of the property that sets it apart from others in the region?

In the five-star hotel segment in CBD, we have one of the largest and most contemporary guest rooms and are the only hotel to have both, a shower cubicle and a bath tub in every guest room. Apart from this, one of the key draws for most of our guests is the awe-inspiring view from the guest rooms with more than 50 per cent of the inventory boasting of a Bangalore Turf Club (Race Course) view.

How do you create memorable experiences for the guests?

The Renaissance brand is all about discovery and exploration as its brand mantra is all about making guest experience unique and enriching, from suggesting iconic food and beverage outlets to visiting traditional handloom small-scale industry and the awe-inspiring Vidhana Saudha to paragliding on the city’s outskirts. The ‘navigators’ at the hotel virtually escort the guests through the rich history, culture and abundant experiential opportunities the city and its surroundings offer.

Tell us about your meetings and weddings business and the progress in these sectors.

Corporate meetings and conferences are still slow but social events are almost back to pre-pandemic levels. This clearly shows that corporates are still cautiously treading on the future of business travel and events. However, individuals, families and friends are going ahead with their events and travel. This is evident from stay-cations, work-cations and social events.

How do you adapt to the changing trends in the dynamic travel and hospitality industry and meet the expectations of the new gen customers?

Most B2C industries and businesses have had a major change in the last two years and the hotel business is no different. We’ve seen some dramatic changes in guests’ stay expectations where hygiene and wi-fi speed has taken precedence over a lot of hitherto top expectations. Some other examples of unconventional trends in hotels is of F&B home delivery going through the room for five-star hotels versus pre-pandemic numbers where this revenue stream was almost non-existent as a percentage of total revenue. In-room dining increased manifold as guests preferred sitting in the safety of their rooms and dining versus dining in the restaurant or elsewhere. Business hotels were used to seeing their guests leave the hotel before 9 am and return only post 7 pm versus now where the average guests order multiple F&B and HK requests in the room because they are present at the hotel and public areas far more times than ever in the past.

 Lush All Day Dining

What are your short- and long-term plans for the property?

I believe the short-term plans are the same for most of us ie keep the business afloat, retain talent and sweat the asset. Long-term plans are mostly in the ‘cold storage’ for most hotels. Moreover, they are very different for different hotels and a lot depends on the ownership plan and vision for the next 5-10 years. In fairness, with the tough times the industry and all stakeholders, including owners, have gone through, new investments are difficult to come by. I think that’s how it will remain for the next few months unless there is an overwhelming evidence that business will remain buoyant.

How has the role of GM evolved over the last two years?

It has undergone some dramatic changes, from being the chief guest experience manager to becoming the chief cost manager, from being the chief PR officer of the hotel to becoming the chief recruiter. The post-Covid era has made the GM change himself dramatically and perhaps like never before in the history of the industry. Neither did the focus areas of the past vanish nor are there many new subjects that are to be dealt with by the GM directly. But yes, the priority rank list got shuffled in a very profound way.

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