Capt. Mayank Tomar from Spice jet was staying with us from 7th to 8th July 2017. As per the contract, we are supposed to provide them free airport transfers. Normally two captains travel in one vehicle and on 8th July2017, since there was a change in their schedule, they wanted to go separately to airport in two different vehicles as one at 5.30pm and another captain at 6.30pm.
First car has left at 5.30pm and immediately after 5 minutes, Mr. Mayank Tomar, came down and wanted a vehicle to go to airport immediately as he as to catch the same flight as his schedule is again changed. Unfortunately all the hotel vehicles were on trips and we did not have either a spare vehicle or time to call a taxi from outside. He realized that it is his mistake that he has not informed front desk on change of his schedule but he was restless and started requesting us to drop him at any cost.
Our General Manager Mr. Mohammed Sheriff N. was watching all these in CC TV in his office and immediately he came out to the lobby and inquired on the same. Then he contacted him and said that he shall drop him in airport in his vehicle and he also agreed for the same. Immediately Mr. Sheriff took his car and drove personally and dropped him in airport on time. Mr. Mayank Tomar was thrilled and very happy about the help he got from the hotel on time and he appreciated the attitude of our General Manager who drove down him to airport personally.
A few months earlier , a elderly couple Mr Abdullah and his wife checked in to Radisson Blu GRT Hotel Chennai . They were from Oman and were seeking medical assistance. They had come to visit the doctors in the Adyar Cancer Institute in Guindy. Mrs Abdullah was suffering from Cancer . The doctors advised her to undergo an operation in the leg which was done immediately. The doctors advised her rest ad to wear a special footwear. Unfortunately, the couple tried many sources but could not get the right footwear readymade.
Jay from the front desk was dealing with the couple and when he heard the predicament of the couple he made arrangements from a local shoe maker in Nanganallur in the neighborhood of the hotel to come in and take measurements in the hotel and delivered the shoes as per the doctor’s specification by the evening. The guests were ever grateful and thankful to Jay and the hotel in taking care of all their needs . The guest stayed for a couple of weeks and when they were leaving extended a invitation for Jay to visit Oman and stay at their home.
Jay truly demonstrated the service philosophy of GRT Hotels –“I say yes” and also the Carlson Hotel credo “ Yes I can”
This endearing story happened in Radisson Blu Resort Templebay , Mahabalipuram
Shoubik Das Gupta, a Management Trainee at the Front Desk started his routine Night shift duty rom 20.00hrs .He took over a busy shift . The resort was full.
While he was very busy in handling check –ins and various guests’ requests at the front desk, Ms.Sheetal Mehra from room #146, approached him at 11:00 pm frantically and informed Shoubik that she had forgotten her contact lens solution at home and she would not be able to remove her lens without the lens solution and she was disappointed that this will ruin her holiday.
Shoubik pacified Ms Sheetal and assured her that he would try his level best to get the lens solution from the nearby pharmacy. But unfortunately when the bell boy wnet to the nearby pharmacy it was closed as it was 11.30 pm by then . Shoubik was in a dilemma as he had informed Sheetal that he would organize the lens solution with confidence and he has also asked her for 20 minutes to find out for possibilities if any . He did not want to let her down.
His training on ‘Yes I can’ service philosophy kicked in .
Frantically Shoubik , even though he was busy at the front desk remembered his room mate also used lens. He went out of his way and woke up his roommate to bring the lens solution from his room and then he has handed over the lens solution as he promised . The guest was very inquisitive and asked Shoubik how he managed to get the solution this late in the night and he narrated the entire incident to the guest , Ms.Sheetal was very happy for shoubik and she and exclaimed “THANK YOU SHOUBIK YOU HAVE BEEN A LIFE SAVER FOR ME TODAY”
She was so thrilled that she asked her daughter to give Shoubik a gift. This is the cute drawing.
‘Yes I Can’ service philosphy demonstrated by a the team at Radisson Blu Hotel GRT Chennai
On 2nd February 2017, Mr. & Mrs. Richard had stayed in room #234 in Radisson Blu Hotel GRT Chennai.
They left the hotel early in the morning in a private Taxi and returned back only at 1 am after visiting Marina beach, Mahabalipuram and other places of tourist interest. On reaching the room the guests realized that they had forgotten their mobile phone in the taxi and the taxi had already left and there was no way they could contact the driver. They could only tell the color of the car and the model . It was a white color Suzuki Desire car. Mrs Richard was very sad and lost hope of retrieving the mobile which had all the photos of their trip and also some vital information and contacts. They contacted the front desk at the hotel and expressed their disappointment.
The Duty Assistant Security officer Krishna Singh ,took it on himself to get back the mobile at any cost so that the guests take back good memories of our country and the hotel .
His investigations led him to believe that the car would have refueld in the Petrol stations in the vicinity of Mahabs. He contacted a BPCL Admin Executive he knew and scanned the cameras in the petrol stations in and around the Mahabalipuram. At the end of the day , he tracked down the same car entering in a camera footage in a BPCL station. With this information he contacted the police station and took their help to track the vehicle and the driver . Finally , the police were able to retrieve the mobile phone from the taxi driver and returned it to the guest.
Mr and Mrs Richard were truly grateful and were amazed for the efforts taken by Krishna Singh and the hotel team. They conveyed that they have never had such a unique service experience ever in their many travels around the world. They wanted to bring their entire family and children the next year and made advance reservations in the hotel.
Incident: Reaching the Srilankan Airline Pilots and Crews at the airport on time overcoming road blocks and agitations by Jallikkatu supporting groups
On 20th January 2017, there was an agitation and road blocks by local people supporting Jallikattu which had reached a peak and no vehicles including two wheelers were allowed to run on the roads in Madurai. Srilankan airline pilots and crews were staying with us and since all the international flights were operating, they must board their flight before take off and without fail. They got struck in the hotel and were getting frantic calls from airport and their head office in Srilanka. They requested us to drop them at Airport at any cost without causing any damages to them !! Finally, our chauffer Thirupathi had come up with an idea of taking them along a different village route which connected to NH47 national highway which has a short cut to the rear end of airport. Both the drivers assured that they can handle the local villagers as they know them personally. Two captains and five female crew were taken in two cars and they managed to reach the rear end of the airport. Meanwhile, Srilankan staff at the airport were briefed on this plan and they were asked to come to the spot. Both the drivers and Srilankan airline staff escorted all the pilots and crew to the airport rear end compound and managed to get inside the airport. The Pilots and crew were pleased with driver’s ‘out of box’ thinking and their assistance in reaching them to the airport safely.
One of the pilot video recorded the whole incident and uploaded it in the Youtube.
This is one of the stories of going the Extra Mile and living our service Philosophy of “I say Yes”
The Story of the Steam & Whistles lounge and The Code –the Speakeasy underground pub at Grand By GRT Hotels
December 2nd changed a lot of perspective in Chennai. Lot of people’s lives changed overnight when they lost everything in the Chennai Floods disaster.
Grand By GRT Hotels was GRT Grand on 1st December before it was forced to close the doors when the hotel was marooned in swirling waters of the now in-famous Chennai floods.
It was an opportunity to re-discover /re-invent and re-launch the 18yrs old hotel in a new-age avatar. The Hotel was rebranded and launched on April 14th , 2016 with pomp and splendor kicking heels like a young , brash and quirky styled new age dude.
It was reborn as Grand by GRT Hotels.
With this re-birth, the restaurants and the bars of the hotel were also conceptualized to bring in the new quirk and bohemian to the attitude of the boutique hotel.
The High Time was the bar in GRT Grand for 18 years and had a loyal clientele for many long years.
A crack team sat together to put together a ‘first time’ concept for the Chennai yuppies on December 15th . This team included the GRT Hotels ideation team, Interior design consultant, Krithika Subramanium,and Debanjana and Chesly from JWT ( our Advertising agency) .
The ideation took us many levels of brain storming and finally an image was conjured of the Roaring Twenties Speakeasy Bars.
The Roaring Twenties or the Golden Twenties era went by such names as the Jazz Age, the Age of Intolerance, and the Age of Wonderful Nonsense. It was a decade of prosperity and dissipation, and of jazz bands, bootleggers, raccoon coats, bathtub gin, flappers, flagpole sitters, bootleggers, and marathon dancers.
The Ideas which Inspired Steam and Whistles and Code
The decor of Steam and Whistles was inspired by the Speakeasy bars of the 1920 era. A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an illicit establishment that sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition of the 1920’s. It was dark paneled and cozy. This was recreated in Steam and Whistles in Grand by GRT Hotels.
Automobile and Locomotives skyrocketed in 1920’s. Ford sold 15 million units of the Ford Model T. The name of Steam & Whistles was inspired by the Steam Locomotives ( a junk art of wheels & gears are the backdrop of the bar ) and the horns those days sounded like whistles.
Art Deco was the style of design and architecture that marked the era and so the general décor of the lounge and pub followed the Art Deco style
Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby in 1925 which told the story of the fictional character Jay Gatsby and exposed the excesses of consumerism during the 1920s. The entire lit art panel on the roof of the bar is a recreation of the Great Gatsby
The Prohibition Gangsters were violent mobsters who extended their illegal activities in the 1920’s through the sale of intoxicating liquor which led to the rise of organized crime. The names of the most famous gangsters in the Roaring Twenties were Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Dutch Schultz and Jack “Legs” Diamond. One can see the bar staff and the bar man dressed like the prohibition gangsters in the Steam and Whistles
Speakeasies were saloons or nightclubs that sold alcoholic beverages illegally during the period of Roaring Twenties Prohibition. Speakeasies (speak-easies) were so named because patrons had to whisper code words to enter the illegal drinking clubs. CODE pub was inspired by the Speakeasy and is in the basement tightly tucked away behind a vault door and open only to Code words!!
The Jazz Age, another name used for the Roaring Twenties, became associated with modernism, sophistication and decadence. There are several jazz bands which in Steam and Whistles and jazz music the house music.
Terms and Phrases that emerged during the era were flappers, hooch, big cheese, jazzbos, bootlegger, Reds, cat’s whiskers, the bee’s knees, gatecrasher, crush, scram, lounge lizards, stool pigeons, Tommy guns and Dirty rats. These are cocktails and mocktail names in the steam & Whistles menu
Interesting Fact: In the 1920’s era , Flappers were light-hearted, female nonconformists who were eager to try new styles of dress and challenged the traditional ideas of behavior by wearing make-up, drinking and smoking in public and acting in an unladylike fashion. Flappers wore short bobbed hair, make-up such as lipstick and rouge, short fringed skirts, bright-colored sweaters and scarves illustrated in the picture of Clara Bow – The “It Girl”.
In my next blog I will tell you the story of J HIND , the progressive Indian restaurant in Grand by GRT Hotels.
How do you choose a hotel to stay ? Do you want a ‘home away from home’, a clean place, posh ambiance or crisp service, or all and some MORE ? Every hotel in today’s competitive world worth its buck provides that. How can a hotel be different and how can it leave an impression on the guest – a real WOW experience MUCH MORE experience !
Most of the large branded hotels have perfected the Science of Service. They have guest service programs like the ‘Spirit to Serve’ program in the Marriott, ‘Yes I Can’ guest service program in the Radisson Hotels, ‘Ladies & Gentlemen serving Ladies & Gentlemen’ service philosophy in the Ritz Carlton Hotels etc . These programs are SOP driven , step by step programs which advocate 5 steps of service or 7 techniques or 10 principles or some other way of making the whole guest satisfaction concept a ‘by the book’ driven exercise. This ‘by method’ influence most of the hospitality industry today. What will open the doors to levels of guest experience much higher than 5-star service ? What is that which is un-clonable, differentiated from competition and which will leave a lasting impression on a guest experience to take back lifetime memories? As a successful 5 star hotel we have high degree of efficiency in guest satisfaction but we want to go to the next level.
The answer is to provide guests a heart-warming, loving and caring spirit that makes the guests wish that time would stand still; not because of the material splendor, which anyone with money can create, but because of the love, care, warmth, and compassion that the staff exudes, particularly through their attitude , through their eyes and body language and through their verbal communication. Unfortunately, this cannot be created through an efficient, correct and friendly service formula. We need to look at the hotel not as an extension of the outside world but as an “oasis of peace” the guests enter after a hard day’s work . This can not only be created with the ambiance but with the people who are the heart of the hotel with a heart-warming spirit of love, compassion, warmth, care, and empathy. To create this spirit you have to do things differently.
We must teach our teams to love themselves first. This is not as simple or as silly as it sounds. How many hotels who want their associates to show love to the guests teach them how to love themselves first? It is pointless simply telling the team, “You must love yourself first.” That achieves little or nothing. We have to teach them to look within . We should teach them easy 3-minute meditations that will touch their heart and develop the feeling of love for oneself. This will start to change the thought -energy and vibrations that they send out. There is nothing strange about this and happens to all but we dont know it if we are not aware. You would have gone into a room of strangers and felt positive or negative about the certain people without knowing why immediately . We sometimes feel that the other person is not ‘vibing’ with us. This is because , thoughts are simply vibrating energy, in fact the whole body is made of energy and one can influence the body’s energy field to create a loving guest experience. But it has to start from the top management belief and that means we should have love, compassion and care as part of our mission statement and then use these concepts in the service design .
How do we do this?
To take this forward we should employ the right kind of music, stories, incidents and combinations of these with certain 5-minute meditations to reach the hearts of the employees so that they want to show more love, care, warmth, empathy, and compassion to the guests. This is not new to Indian hospitality. The basic tenets of Athitho Devo Bhava originates from this.
We can also create in employees a feeling of being happy by the practice of showing gratitude with emotion in a certain ways. It helps their positive emotional state and will increase the desire to make people happy. We can have them spend 3-5 minutes doing this in a daily departmental briefings before going out to serve the guests.
Employees often carry emotional baggage with them from home to work. We need to remove these negative energies in the briefing sessions as worries and stress will not help the employee create a wonderful guest experience. There are simple 2 -3 minute meditations to stop negative thoughts.
Another essential element is to change all the SOP manuals so that they are aligned with the guest experience at the level of Spiritual Hospitality. Every step in each skill should include at least one of the core values that underpin the new vision .
Example: “Address the guest in a heart-warming and caring tone with a warm smile and warm eye-contact that say, “I’m so pleased to see you.” Soften your voice to make it sound warmer and let the person hear in the tone of your voice that you care from the heart. The guest will feel your warmth and respond to it. Your attitude and manner should be welcoming as this will make the guest feel happy.”
Teach and take sessions for employees on law of attraction from Rhonda Bryne’s “Secret”. “ask, believe, receive” — is the essence of the Law of Attraction.
Make the employees perform the SOP’s at100% efficiency but add the spice of the ‘serve love’ program
Empathy is an important quality to develop in the employees because the guest’s experience will require employees to be able to read and understand the guests intuitively, and to show that they are in-tune with them
Developing the intuition of the employees supports the development of empathy, and is a very important part of service at the level of creating truly memorable experiences and beyond because it increases the employee’s feeling about the guests, and enables them to know what they should do to make each guest happy.
Another element to add to this service is ‘mystery’ or ‘magic’ where guest should feel that the employees are reading their minds and know what they like and want. This can be developed with the development of intuition.
To summarize, we can change the guest experience by the way we develop the spiritual values and elements of the guest experience in hotels. There is some work being done on this by Peter Macalpine in Thailand and in the Western World but we are in a better position to embrace this as Indians as we are taught spirituality and values from young and understand the nuances of Dharma and Karma.