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Take the ‘Demon’ out of ‘Demonetisation’

Friday, January 20, 2017, 18:58 Hrs  [IST]

The New Year has arrived and the hospitality industry is looking in bad shape. Demonetisation has been hard to swallow. Restaurant operations have taken a hit. Banquets and weddings have seen major revenue losses and, along with it, room bookings have gone south. The travel industry reports the same fate - families scrapped tours and travel plans. Let's face it; black money was good for white business.

We can reverse the current downward trend but we need to first change our attitude. Let's stop telling ourselves and others that there is a problem. Let's see things not as how they are but how they can be and individually and collectively go out and make it happen.

Some lessons I learned:
A friend of mine, Shailesh Patil, MD, Kesari Tours and Director, Sukho Thai, is an astute businessman. Whenever I meet him, he always says business is up. When I mention or question him about the environment he says, “Oh that situation does not affect us” or “The impact is hardly anything as we get business from this (another) source” or “Because of this situation that (another market) has opened up”. His attitude is what keeps his business going up and on. His infectious positivity obviously penetrates his team and the clientele continues to give him business - because everybody loves a winner.
Lesson: The change we want to see must first begin in our own minds.

Dubai too is facing a downslide. I visited Zuma, Mythos and Nola. These are huge outlets yet on weekdays they are full and on weekends it's impossible to get a seat. I experienced awesome service, great food and mind-blowing ambience at all places. Prices are high but you get your money’s worth. In a panic situation many participate in a price war. Drop prices and obviously standards too go south. Guests have a bad experience and you lose them. To woo them back you spend on marketing and PR. Bottom line and top line both shrink. Then we say the market is down.
Lesson: Don't focus on the price, focus on the guest experience.

A friend of mine 'stole' a couple of quality staff from the competition. These personnel, since they were in demand, negotiate higher packages. But once on the job he was disappointed. Neither were they able to meet his expectations nor get along with his pre-existing team. Shortly they got better offers and moved on but not before creating widespread HR related damage. These 'imports' were not bad but each organisation is different and the staff has to be trained and shaped to an organisation’s unique culture and needs.
Lesson: Invest in training and upgrading your own team, in the long run it pays rich dividends.

One common trend with all industries - automobile, electronic, banking and financial services, pharmaceutical, IT - they innovate big time. They all have R&D departments. In hospitality too we have innovative companies Airbnb, McDonald’s, Dominos. It's time we realised that only the ones that adapt will survive.
Lesson: Make small changes or huge transformations but change.

The normal reaction when the market is 'down' is to wait and watch or crib and moan. But a good driver is not one who drives fast on a good open highway. His skill is judged by how fast and safely he can on a road with corners, curves, slopes, and other perils. As a professional, don't make excuses. Get up! Get aggressive! Attack the market, lead from the front. Show the industry what you are made of.
Lesson: Being tough is not about how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward!

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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