Incredible India is the finest and most diverse travel attraction on the planet Earth! It’s slowly and gradually rising in global travel rankings, on the back of rising popularity of its unexplored travel attractions spread across states, while the best of manpower add an unforgettable hospitality experience.
The heart of India — Madhya Pradesh — is one such travel destination that has worked its way to the top, and is now looking at its strengths of historical, religious, wildlife and many more attractions.
On invitation from one of such attractions of the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, Jehan Numa Place, set on the slope of Shamla Hill, Sanjeev Bhar explores the stunning white structure that combines British Colonial, Italian Renaissance and Classical Greek architecture. It is one of the best conserved Regal 19th Century residence palace that overseas visitors will fall in love with!
In an interaction, the writer looks into the dynamic work culture of the hotel led by the man in-charge responsible, the general manager, to make one’s stay so comfortable that guests take back with them memories unforgettable!
The moment you confront the general manager of Jehan Numa Palace and Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal, you invariably get impressed by his super confident attitude and mind-set. He is Gaurav Rege, who has been with the hotel for just over two years, and he is leaving no room to bring about a change. A dynamic go-getter persona that he is, it is easy to strike an engaging conversation with him.
While joining at the breakfast table at Shahnama restaurant, Rege quickly glanced all around meticulously, ensuring everything is in order. For me, meeting him for the first time, surprisingly, didn’t seem so, as he made me not only comfortable, but also engrossed me into an interesting conversation that followed. We sat and started discussing about our education background, interests, the hotel and its hospitality legacy, while I recalled my association with this place—I had visited this hotel (as venue) in 2006 to attend the convention of Hotel and Restaurant Association (WI). “Oh, you stayed in this hotel,” quickly came his thought as a question. No, I replied. This happens to be my first rendezvous with the hotel, I said, and I was impressed by its hospitality, showcasing a regal touch that one wouldn’t expect from a hotel in Bhopal. I thanked him for inviting prowellnessindia.com to experience the difference in hospitality that it claims to deliver.
While a number of questions were going in my head, I asked him if he puts everyone into a comfort zone with such ease? To answer this, he simply smiled. I can now say that the upfront factor that goes in favour of this hotel is its approach toward guest satisfaction and constant control over the experience it wants people to enjoy.
Rege informed, “This hotel was established 30 years ago and continues to remain the pride of the city. We have a culture that guides us; it has an association with the past, what used to be once an administrative palace of General Obaidullah Khan, to being a place that is popular among youngsters in the city, to those loyal customers who choose to stay during their city visits—for business and leisure.”
When Rege joined this group, the hotel was focussing on social events, and the majority of the city hotels compete in this segment. He brought a new thought to position Jehan Numa Palace as a premium property by shifting the focus on corporate events. “We were anyway enjoying the legacy proposition and I wanted to create a better revenue stream that also brings brand value for us. Once we started delivering our distinguished services to the corporates, we established a distinct value proposition for the brand Jehan Numa Palace,” he said. In the current context, the hotel enjoys the patronage of government events and many international meets/summits. For example, he highlighted, “India–ASEAN Youth Summit took place during 14–19 August, 2017, in Bhopal, and we were chosen as the hotel to host the event.”
While the hotel has a negligible leisure traffic, say 7% overall, it is very much at the top of social media rankings—after all even corporate travellers, these days, are equally hooked on to social media deliberations. Rege claims that the hotel ranks either third or fourth in TripAdvisor.
The essence of the hotel lies in its expanse, lavish corridors, spacious rooms and a modern outlook toward services. “This 100-room hotel will give comfort to global travellers, offering diverse cuisine choices, which constantly change our style of delivery, yet retaining the regal approach of the past. In fact, our revenue is spread out evenly—rooms give 40%, food and banqueting combined gives over 40% and the remaining comes from spa, gym, etc.,” Rege elaborated.
Rege has a strong opinion about the way rooms should be filled. “I generally don’t sacrifice my price point. I would rather keep my price point at such level that helps us ensure the niche experience, our property promise to offer,” he says. Off the record, he narrates his distant approach to which I am impressed. A graduate of Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad, Rege holds an impressive line of companies he has worked with.
What is his ambition for the hotel? To this question, he replied with a lot of thought. He said, “Please understand that Bhopal is not a leisure destination. The scope of growth for hospitality is definitely rising in the corporate segment and I am aiming to hold the premium and most respected position. That said, it’s not that we are not—we have performed exceedingly well this year. By mid-September 2017, we are already 10% above last year’s performance of 16% growth YoY. So my approach is to offer concepts, services and approaches to customers that make this hotel a great one in the country.”
While we were strolling down a corridor next to the porch of the hotel after having breakfast, he stopped and pointed me toward his biggest challenge, which he enjoys tackling. He said, “Do you know that our attrition rate is of the lowest as compared to of the best hotels you can think of? There are employees who are with this group for over two decades. I am fairly new entrant. Telling them what to do correctly is entering into a difficult zone. I am the one who just picks up an issue and discuss with them the ways to improve upon it further.” This approach certainly has worked in his favour.
There is a sense of enthusiasm in him. And the reason became apparent. He told me something interesting. “One of the tourism ministry (state government) officials once asked me about whether I am nominating the hotel for the National Tourism Award. That day I realised that things are going in the right direction. Although we didn’t win the award this year, but we’re probably the only private sector hotel in the country that was the official nomination by any state government. The confidence of the state government in our hospitality and service excellence is something that we, as a hotel group, really cherish and boast about. It is a big feat that the hotel never fails to celebrate,” he summed.
Needless to say, as the hotel is making strides to emerge as a prominent brand at the national level, Rege—being the architect of the road map—is enjoying every bit of this transition phase from good to best.
Stay tuned for more on Jehan Numa Palace- our journey has just started!