Keeping Pace With Change
David Hopcroft, GM of Le Meridien Gurgaon feels that consistently offering superlative guest experiences is the only way to stay on top of the game
Give us a short background about your journey in this industry.
My affinity for the hospitality industry started when I was schooling in the UK and visited local pubs and cafĂ©s. I apprenticed with the Hilton and The Park Lane, later taking on the roles of chief steward and restaurant manager in the Middle East. After returning to London, I worked as an assistant F&B manager in properties like InterContinental and Sterling Hotels.
Later, I migrated to Australia for the pre-opening of Nikko Hotel, got promoted to EAM, and joined ANA in Sydney as hotel manager. My first posting as a cluster GM was in Fiji followed by Shangri-La and Mocambo Resorts. I was then transferred to Delhi with the same chain. After that stint, I was the GM at Pullman Hotels and now manage the affairs at Le Meridien Gurgaon.
What are some important lessons learnt from your experiences?
I believe that it is extremely important to develop people besides focusing on other aspects of your business. If you train them, lead them and empower them, you have the foundation for a success story.
What changes did you initiate at Le Meridien Gurgaon since taking charge as the GM?
After taking charge of the property in January 2014, we created a massive landscape area around the hotel replete with manicured lawns, seasonal flowers, trees, et al. From any spot in the hotel, you get a view of lush green overlooking the Aravalli range, giving a feeling of being in a resort. This has become a highlight for our guests especially in the millennium city of India!
We also introduced a unique nightlife destination at the hotel, I-Kandy, which became the ultimate nightlife destination in Gurgaon. We had some of the most sought-after gigs here, including Skrillexâ€™s after-party to DJ Snake.
Additionally, we introduced Sunday brunches at our all-day dining restaurant, Latest Recipe, with a spread of over 200 dishes led by my executive chef and his team. This was a big hit with guests staying with us and diners. We will soon launch an Italian-French restaurant.
What is the best part of being a GM?
I have been travelling and working in different parts of the world since the beginning of my career. Currently, the best part of being a GM is being able to be at the forefront of an extremely talented team. That turn deliver the brandâ€™s promise. As a facilitator, I like to see the treat flourish.
How do you keep the morale of your team high?
My objective is to always maintain a positive work environment. When everybody at work is under pressure, my managers help employees stay engaged, focused and motivated. No team-building exercise or pat on the back can completely restore workplace confidence. I work on the team’s strengths and help them work on their development areas. Different team members need a different kind and level of motivation; I try and step in their shoes to assess what help I can offer them at that point.
What are some challenges that you face as the GM?
Every task offers certain challenges, but it is we who have to lead the way and sail through any scenario. With hotels it is slightly tougher as we have a taskforce on ground 24×7 that is looking after guests and ensuring that the deliverables are par excellence each time. We are dealing with unique individuals and changing external factors. Every hotel faces distinctive
challenges. With each passing year, these challenges are different. However, in return, these provide us valuable lessons too.
What positive changes have you observed in the industry in the past decade?
Guests today are well-travelled and more willing to try new things. This motivates us to innovate and offer them with something different each time. Also, the hospitality industry has grown, thus providing us with better opportunities and growth.