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One Should Follow Technology Trends To Be A Leader In Hospitality Sector: Vincent Ramos, IHCL
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Vincent Ramos, Vincent Ramos, Area Director – IHCL (Indian Hotels Company), Goa & General Manager - Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa, talks about recent trends in the hospitality industry
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How will you describe the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa? And how it is different from other properties in Goa?
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is one of the most promising luxury resorts situated on the south-west coastline of Goa, overlooking the Arabian Sea. We are all about care and service, always striving to be better than the best in delivering the best of experiences. Our resort sprawls over 56 acres of lush greenery with a nine-hole executive golf course along with a host of other amenities such including cycling track, tennis court, pool tables as well as a cricket ground. We offer 24-hour concierge, butler service, guest service as well as an all-day diner and 24-hour in-room dining to cater to every guests’ request. We pride ourselves on truly customizing unique experiences for each guest and walk an extra mile to make them feel special.
How did you get into the hospitality business? What made you get into hospitality sector?
I completed my Hotel Management at IHM, Porvorim in 1992. Then I had two major professional trysts with The Leela Group and Four Seasons respectively before moving to o IHCL in 1999. My journey with IHCL began with the team that kickstarted Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa. From there on, I have had a memorable journey and have grown and evolved to where I am today.
My love and passion for the industry as well as the continuous support and mentoring from the leadership of IHCL has kept me motivated through the years.
What are the recent trends you have noticed in the last three-four years?
The recent trends that all hotels are now gearing up to is to pace up to the ‘Technology’ revolution that has been disrupting the hospitality space and driving disruption. Majority of guests today are self-sufficient, technologically advanced travellers who are comfortable using apps or mobile websites. We make sure our offerings are up-to-date while being user friendly at the same time. Besides, an enhanced emphasis on health and well-being is picking up, wherein hotels must have a well-equipped fitness centre, pool and spa. Healthy food options such as eco-friendly options are becoming the norm across hotels. Some properties also focussing on renewable energy resources and water conservation with a view to ensure sustainability.
How luxury has changed over the years?
A truly luxurious experience must appeal to all the five senses and be compelling enough for a guest to want to repeat it many times over. The idea is to leave a long lasting impression that becomes a life-long memory. However, the connotation of luxury has expanded to embrace and include a plethora of things that were but absent previously. The yesteryears made luxury synonymous with experiences that involved anything that is highly expensive, however there has been a paradigm shift and luxury now encompasses every minute detail of the entire experience. The ambit of luxury has also expanded to include wellness routines such as meditation in the morning, indulgences such as an afternoon tea or a walk in the park with friends and family or entertaining retreats such as a musical show and many more. What consumers are searching for in their pursuit for luxury is a host of immersive, redefining experiences that can help them discover themselves a new and stay glued to their memorabilia.
Who all you consider a competition?
The truth is that our only real competition is within ourselves. If we can be the best version of who we are and focus only on being better compared to what we were yesterday, then who we are competing against should not and does not matter. While competition drives us to the edge and enables us scale up our performance levels, we are constantly trying to innovate better and create and curate experiences that set us apart from the rest.
How are you training and finding employees?
The key focus is to absorb and retain the best talent in the industry. However, we are making sure that we reach out to the local community and recruit youth as job trainees. We do this through a community outreach program which identifies youth from the local community and trains them in various operational departments. These trainees are then put through to a detailed, in-depth training module running over six months, wherein they are exposed to and mentored on all the operational facets, brand guidelines and values of IHCL. In the long run, this helps with the creation of a pipeline of well trained, multi-skilled, entry level associates who are ventually absorbed by us to fill up our vacancies
What is the occupancy rate on an average?
We have been clocking very good occupancy so far and based on the previous trends and continuous initiatives by the Government and the tourism ministry, the outlook for the tourism industry looks very bright and we expect the rates to remain consistently stable if not show a steeper growth curve.
What is your experience of running IHCL in Goa?
I started my career with IHCL in Goa and have had the opportunity to grow and lead many iconic hotels of the brand, I have now come back in a full circle as the Area Director for IHCL in Goa and General Manager for Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa. It has been a great experience and opportunity to manage six IHCL hotels in Goa that includes a good mix from our brand portfolio, with hotels from Taj, Vivanta and Ginger respectively.