‘Nothing teamwork can’t solve’

May 8, 2017-Prakash Jayadevan, the general manager at the recently-launched Fairfield Marriott Hotel in the Capital, began his career as a kitchen executive trainee at Leela Group of hotels before working with international hotel chains like Sheraton and Courtyard Chennai.

Now leading the team behind the newest international brand to enter Nepal’s booming hospitality industry, Jayadevan is a firm believer in the notion that happy employees always translate into happy customers.

In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, he talks about the hospitality industry, customer service and his mantras for success. Excerpts:

There are many international brands that now entering the Nepali market. Can you tell us about the importance of having an international hotel chain like Marriott in a country where tourism is such a vital lifeblood? Also, how do you plan to maintain your brand image?

This is a very exciting phase for the hospitality industry in Nepal. A lot of international brands are coming to Nepal to open their chains here. Marriott is almost 90-years-old now.

We have been around for almost a century and the credit goes to our belief that the key to success is that when you take care of your employees, the employees will take care of the guests.

That’s how we have managed to see such sustained success for so long. In the service industry, the customer is always right and we have to groom ourselves to have patience and perseverance. 

As for maintaining our brand image, there are certain standard guidelines Marriott has as it’s a well-known international chain.  Fairfield Marriott is a business hotel and we ensure that we give our services accordingly.

Travelling can get tedious at times, for which Fairfield makes sure that the guests’ stay with us will reduce the stress, not compound them.

As this is a business hotel, the chief goal we have is to ensure that the Wi-Fi connection is smooth that runs 24/7. Not just that, we make sure all facilities are of top class and on par with the expectations of our clientele.

Given that yours is a service-based industry, what kind of customer service values does Marriott instill in its employees?

At Marriott, customers are always right. There is nothing that is ‘wrong’ when it comes to customer requests or complaints.

We are in an industry where you cannot afford to have mood swings or “off-days” and most importantly, you cannot bring in your personal baggage to work.

You also have to be careful on how you present yourself, as that is vital in the hospitality industry.

Marriott has basic standard and guidelines, to which chains all over the world adhere to. We are no exception. To instill customer service values we have a lot of induction programmes for our employees.

We try to instill Marriott’s core values in them and we have a robust set of trainings and constant follow-ups.

It is said that no two days in the hospitality industry are the same. How do you communicate with your staff when any kind of challenges arrive at work? 

I don’t take anything as a challenge. We have hired many passionate Nepali graduates who are interested to grow their career in this field.

When you have passionate people working for you, there are hardly any obstacles that can’t be overcome—challenges can be fun, and we work as team towards solving them. 

With so many employees doing so many different things, how do you maintain uniformity at work?

In Fairfield we ensure that there is a certain kind of uniformity at the workplace. One of our core values is teamwork—without team work it is impossible to run such a big place.

There are a lot of departments with their respective heads, who are responsible for understanding and nurturing the employees.

We also organise fun events for employees to strengthen the bond between team members. Our primary focus is that we want our employees to be healthy, wealthy and well-motivated.

If the employees are highly motivated, there will always be a positive and friendly environment at work.

I believe that all work and no play makes for a dull affair. Taking care of employees who then in turn take care of the guests is the principle guideline at Marriott.

A lot of training goes behind the scenes to ensure that these values are instilled in every employee; that’s what makes us unique. 

What kind of qualities does a person need to hone to excel in the hospitality sector? 

Leadership is innate to a person. There are various kinds of leaders who have their own personal traits—some may be introverted and reflective, other might be extroverted and spontaneous. A leader needs to have a proper communication skills.

Communication is the integral skill a leader must acquire. You need to lead the team in the right direction; if you are going left and the entire team is going right, something is wrong with the leader.

One of the most important skills that I look out while hiring people is their attitude. When I sit for an interview to hire people, the only thing that I search in candidates is a positive attitude.

They need not be perfect, they may not come from the hospitality sector but they can always learn on the job. It’s all about having the right attitude and the zeal to learn and to evolve. You may learn other things but what can’t be learnt is positive attitude. 

What are your management mantras?

Be passionate. Lead from the front. Reach out to your sub-ordinates time and again. Maintain a positive attitude at work and in life. 

What advice do you have for fresh graduates who plan to join the hospitality industry?

There is an abundance of talented candidates here in Nepal. The country has plenty of raw talents that need to be polished.

Right now, there are many Nepalis abroad wanting to return and work in the sector and there is a lot of opportunity to grow here.

There is a notion that hospitality management limits people only to the hospitality sector but that is misconstrued.

Hospitality management courses provide you various doors of opportunities that give you ample lifeskills you need to succeed in any sector. 

Published: 08-05-2017 08:57

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