The Innkeeper

Rajiv Gujral, senior advisor, Tata International Ltd on what plagues the hospitality industry.

Rajiv Gujral, senior advisor, Tata International Ltd and former Chairman, All India Board of Hotel Management and Catering Technology talks on what plagues the hospitality industry.

“I blame the hotel industry for the state of affairs it is in today. We are following the same regulatory issues, which were framed in 1950s. We need to change them. The industry has not taken up the issues with the government seriously enough.

The rate of attrition here is very high - almost 30 percent. Firstly, the hotel industry is not a very good pay master. Secondly, being a service industry the duty here is almost for 24 hours. When people join the industry, they realise that the job is not as glamorous. Also, almost 40 per cent of the employees, especially at the front desk, are women. They find it difficult to strike a work-life balance. The problem is more acute at the smaller hotels that do not have training teams.

Our Ministry of Tourism offers a three years degree course but the AICTE recognized institutions have the same course, which of four year duration. Students spend that extra year at the industry but by paying fees. Why this discrepancy? We should just have one standardized course.

We should do a SWOT of Indian hospitality education curriculum, which needs to change according to the needs of the industry. Parents spend so much money in securing admissions to a hospitality course. It is sad that children learn so very little. Teachers who are training them are themselves not well educated. How will they impart relevant knowledge? Industry should proactively mentor teacher. We should send them to the best hotels to learn technology and innovations, environment, control management system and risk management?

The front office, housekeeping and the food and beverage departments face the maximum manpower crunch. There is a huge shortage of drivers, room service, waiters and cooks. We could train rural people in culinary skills and they would be in great demand not only here but also abroad. But HR has to come from the heart.

We need to question ourselves- are we in line with global best practices. Unfortunately, our hotels don’t develop mangers. We should engage global consultants to make global managers. Key to success is people management. Continuity of the standards depends upon continuity of the skills. Succession planning should be done within the different sections of the industry.”

Tips to professionals

  • Acquire soft skills.
  • Acquire knowledge about non-operational areas like finance, marketing and food and beverages.
  • Understand technological trends.
  • Develop leadership skills.
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