Amit Midha, GM of the newly opened Conrad Pune, believes in a leadership that is supportive and encouraging rather than dictatorial, for best results
by USHA J
Give us a short background of your journey.
I have been a part of the hotel industry for 18 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Beginning my career as a front office associate at the Trident, Udaipur, I went on to work with several hotel chains such as Hyatt, Marriott, Madinat Jumeirah Dubai and Jaypee Hotels. I have been a part of seven hotel openings the most recent being the first Conrad in India, Conrad Pune.
What have been some of the important lessons that you have learnt from your experiences.
One vital lesson has been to keep up the pace; procrastination is fatal in business as well as in life. Passion and enthusiasm are mandatory to excel in anything that one does. Also, that one needs to live up to expectations and perform the responsibilities relentlessly.
When did you take charge as GM of this property? Share your preopening experience and initiatives.
It being an opening hotel, it was all about achievements that could make us different from the regular. I was appointed the GM in May 2015 and led the entire operations in time for the launch of the property in March 2016. This has been a very momentous occasion for us as it marks the entry of Hilton Worldwideâ€™s global luxury hotel brand â€“ The Conrad Hotels & Resorts into India.
I have seen this place shape up from bricks to this beautiful Art Deco inspired stunning first Conrad in the country. The most important thing I have tried to instil in the property is the sense of ownership. The minute you set foot in the hotel you will be welcomed by the team as if you are visiting your own personal space or home. This is the first point of contact and when that is done with a genuine smile, the rest of your experience becomes totally beautiful.
What is the best part of being a general manager?
Itâ€™s great to see the team doing well and getting appreciated each day for looking after the guests well and exceeding their expectation. Itâ€™s a proud moment when I meet guests or read reviews and see guests appreciating the team work. Also, I enjoy the privilege of interacting with some discerning guests and that is a truly enriching experience.
How do you keep the morale of the team running high? How do you motivate them?
Having risen from the ranks, I can establish a connect with almost everybody at the hotel. I try to interact with each team member by putting myself in their shoes, understanding their challenges and being supportive of resources they may require to do their jobs best. Also, the Hilton culture encourages open doors and first names, so Iâ€™m mostly Amit, the guy they can walk up to and talk. And I really feel good when my team members come to me seeking guidance on work, career or even something personal.
What are the challenges that you face as the GM?
Without a challenge life especially work life would be rather boring and mundane, and I love to take these head on. When I look back, probably opening the hotel in time was a challenge at some stage, however, we have successfully overcome all of that and the result is a wonderful hotel that enables us to create beautiful memories for all our guests and team members. After the overwhelming response that we have received, keeping up the service levels and ramping up consistently are my immediate goals.
What are the revenue-enhancing strategies that you have adopted/introduced at the property?
With Conrad opening, Pune has seen a new luxury experience being introduced to the city after close to seven years. Our only strategy is to have more guests experience the Conrad hospitality. Awareness is crucial for us and that is all that we would like to focus on at this point in time and revenues will follow.
What are your favourite areas of the property?
Itâ€™s like asking a parent which of your kids is your favourite! However, one will surely catch me strolling by the pool side enjoying the breeze and the views from Kabana at Level 2. Or the other place I tend to visit a lot is the executive lounge where I get a birdâ€™s eye view of the city and catch the stunning hues in the sky at sunset. If I am having a meal at the hotel, it will certainly be Koji, our Asian speciality restaurant, relishing my favourite Japanese, Chinese or Thai delicacies.
Share some of your guest experiences.
Weâ€™ve had some fabulous guest experiences so far. Some that I can recollect is one of the first events with a very influential association, almost every guest came up to me and my team with outstanding feedback on our banquet food and that was really something I hadnâ€™t experienced before in a single evening. We also get a lot of guests who celebrate their anniversaries or birthdays with us during their stay and my team goes out of the way to make it special for them.
In my career, there have been many weird and some bad experiences. One that I still recollect and laugh about is when a guest complained of the medu vada being sweet and we realised that he was actually eating a donut. We immediately replaced it with the medu vada and the guest was very appreciative of our prompt correction.
What has been the turning point in your career?
I really canâ€™t point out one specific aspect as a turning point however I would certainly like to say that my mentors and bosses have really helped me sculpt my career in this industry successfully.
What according to you is the most important thing for success in the industry?
I believe that there is no substitute for passion and hard work in any area of life. As hoteliers, we sometimes sacrifice our personal lives to work round-the-clock and ensure the highest levels of guest satisfaction. It absolutely makes my day when a guest walks up to me and compliments our service levels!
What are some of the positive changes seen by you in the industry in the last decade?
Like any other industry, hotels, too, have seen the influence of technology and in the past decade this influence has only brought about a superb positive change. Conrad gives its guests an opportunity to order room service or a wake up call without even picking up the phone. The Conrad Concierge app allows guests to choose room views, amenities or even special requests simply at their fingertips.
What is the worst thing about being a hotelier?
With every profession, there are positives and negatives but nothing so drastic! Iâ€™ve spent close to two decades spending New Year’s Eve in the company of colleagues and guests. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be home with my extended family and friends for festivals!
If not a hotelier, what would have been your second choice of career?
Every time someone asks me that question it puts me on a thought track to wonder what if not this. Iâ€™m happy that I made this choice, otherwise I would have been doing something with cars as driving is a passion.