Following Indian Hotels' recent restructuring of its luxury division, its operations were divided into two sectors, namely: Indian and international. The rationale being that the company had decided to augment the business strategy of increasing its international and domestic presence. It was also to strengthen focus on its presence in India.
There are 12 properties under the Indian luxury division as of now and one more — Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad (currently under renovation) — that will take the count to 13. These hotels are synonymous with lavish accommodations and unrivalled service, and include authentic palace hotels in Rajasthan that transport guests back in time.
The new chief operating officer of the Taj's luxury division in India, Abhijit Mukerji, believes that there is great merit in paying careful attention to detail. He also believes that it is imperative to anticipate, and satisfy, your guest's every whim and fancy. A hotelier through and through, Mukerji, is all set to take the division places.
What do you think is necessary to make a hotel really world-class in the very competitive hospitality business?
Well, how a hotel actually becomes truly world-class is a combination of many things. Right from the product to the service delivery system, the sales and marketing initiatives, everything plays a very important role. In the luxury business, I believe that attention to detail and consistency are the most important factors. Also one's service delivery must exceed guest expectations in order to ensure that guests keep coming back.
By and large, this is a lifestyle business and as long as one is able to address these factors, one will get the discerning traveller, both international and domestic.
What has the division's strategy been in terms of making the mark of being world-class?
At the luxury end of the spectrum, today, we want the discerning traveller. We are interested in quality and not just sheer volume. Travellers are now better informed and are aware of what they are looking for. I believe that in order to be one of the best, our level of the experience has to be really world-class for the traveller. This business is about personalisation and customisation and not about standardisation, and we believe that the idea is to be able to provide for our guests even before they ask for it. Following this belief, we have what is known as the anticipatory service for our guests, which aims to make the experience more memorable.
Have there been any upgrades carried out in any of the properties? Have any food and beverage (F&B) outlets been added or are there any plans to do the same?
Right now we have 12 luxury hotels in India and once the renovation of the Faluknama hotel are completed we will have 13. Though we began all our renovations and the revamping of our properties a few years back, we are still carrying out various changes and are continuing to add whatever we feel is necessary in all our properties. We aim to be the best in each city in which we have a presence, and our constant endeavour is to upgrade not only our properties but also all the services and various F&B outlets.
Renovation and upgradation work is on in all the luxury hotels in the country.
Does the division have any expansion plans? Also, with the success of the Wellington Mews luxury residences, do you have any plans of another set of service apartments in the country?
Yes, we do have plans. We are looking at cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, maybe also Pune in the near future. We also have expansion plans for Taj Lands End and Taj West End.
What about branding?Also read in Interviews
Historically, the Taj brand is very strong within the country and our source markets are now all across the globe. Our endeavour therefore is to take the Taj brand into the global arena. Efforts are on to push the brand abroad. We are making a concentrated effort to market and position our palace hotels especially in source markets like Europe and North America, for the high-end luxury traveller.
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