As featured on Entrepreneur 21st May 2019
As Indians, we believe that hospitality is ingrained in us. We are born to host others, to be welcoming towards all who should enter our homes. We greet with utmost reverence, entertain, cook and even clean after the harried soul. And why? Because as a child we heard of how Sudama fed his friend Krishna his last bowl of rice. Of how Subari tasted each berry before she fed lord Ram. So while it is true that our hearts and homes are indeed open, something that Airbnb has capitalized on, hospitality and its meaning has changed and therefore needs to be learnt. Or rather re-learnt.
With the coming of new brands we see an inherent shift in trends. Firstly, everyone wants to travel – from budget stays to midmarket ones, the entire country especially the millennials, see travel as a necessity and not as discretion. Secondly, expectations center around learning about the place, experiencing the destination, meeting the locals, taking in the sights. Basics of cleanliness and comfort have changed too. People want clean sheets not thread-counts and homely food not extravagant buffets. Thirdly, there is a huge thrust on the exploratory – seeing offbeat and newer places. And lastly, social media is here to stay – so people are always looking for those unique things to put up.
With an understanding of these basics the industry is seeing massive changes – new business models, new accommodation types etc. And for students aspiring to learn, there can be no vocation that is more rewarding.
The first rule of hospitality is to understand cultures – a way of thinking and being. This results in broadening ones mind. We learn to deal with so many people from different backgrounds, be them guests or fellow colleagues. And we get to travel. To see new places. And ultimately experience newer cultures.
The second rule is to understand economics – the underlying principles behind standardized qualities – of cleaning, of portions and of service. Every line of work entails management of numbers and it is this that leads to customer appreciation.
The third rule is to understand sustainability – see how you can rely on local resources for all requirements – recruitment, procurement and entrepreneurship. Build a circular economy by training local talent, buying local foods and building local activities. Ensure local income increases as footfalls rise.
The industry is changing with a pace that is dizzying – making way for newer ways of hospitality. Formal programs are still to catch up and on-the-job learning is crucial. So whether you aspire to run your own homestay or build a chain of hotels, consumer preferences remain central.
Atithi Devo Bhava.