Tête-à-tête with Roshan Khawas, General Manager at Pokhara Grande
Free-spoken and jovial, Roshan Khawas is the General Manager at Pokhara Grande. Sharing stories and numerous experiences, he is definitely a man of strong leadership. From upcoming renovations in the hotel to welcoming VNY 2020 guests, Roshan Khawas talks to Nepal Traveller.
A brief on Pokhara Grande.
Pokhara Grande is the only 5 star hotel in Pokhara situated at a crossroad. Away from the hustle and bustle, it is an easy walk or bicycle ride to the local market, airport and Lakeside. It is an ideal retreat for tourists seeking luxury and comfort Pokhara. With 140 deluxe rooms, 10 suites overlooking the mountain range and 5 well equipped banquet and meeting halls, we also have 2 restaurants, 2 bars and round the clock room service. Our well equipped health club, outdoor swimming pool and spa facilities add to our personalised service. Our hotel has been listed in Top 10 Hotels in Nepal in Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards in 2017 and 2018 consecutively.
What would you say is the hotel’s greatest asset?
I would say our greatest asset is our team. They play a vital role in contributing to achieve the best for Pokhara Grande. Understanding customer values and consistency in work is how we excel.
A brief intro on your past experiences.
I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, gaining practical work experience and expertise in Hotel Operations & Management, Front Office Operations, Revenue Management, Sales & Marketing and Administration. Excellent communication, leadership, dynamism are a few of the skills I pass on to my staff. I consider myself to be self motivated and positive while always building rapport with clients and guests. I have worked with Hyatt International, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Coral Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Abidos Hotels and Fulbari Resort & Spa.
Pros and cons of being the General Manager.
For me the pros outweigh the cons. Being a General Manager, it’s great to know that you are empowered to make important decisions for the betterment of the organisation you represent. Taking on more duties and responsibilities, I like to face challenges head on. Consistently working under pressure may be one of the few cons but it’s all an experience at the end of the day.
Elaborate on the current challenges faced.
When you work in a competitive city such as Pokhara, you have to pay more attention to what is changing around you. We live in such a fast-paced world; the greatest challenge is to keep up with new trends and adapt to them. Our business is constantly evolving, for example the booking industry has changed. Guests have many choices nowadays and we have to keep up with the changes. We have to be visible in all distribution channels. The other challenge is that you need to understand what is important to today’s generation. Our industry is often challenged to find good and motivated young people to join us. You need to know the philosophy and values of the workforce and make adjustments in the management style. I personally feel that the tour operators who are selling FIT’s/GIT’s for Pokhara market are somehow trying to undersell Pokhara though it’s one of the best tourist destinations in Nepal. With their support, the entire city occupancy must have increased but not in the pricing factor.
Among numerous properties coming up, how do you intend to tackle competition?
Yes, numerous properties are coming up with new technology and modernisation. Each year passes, your amenities get older and that can have a negative impact on your guests and your reputation. If the technology in your hotel rooms are outdated, whether it be the TV or the Wi-Fi connection, it can significantly lower your customers’ satisfaction level. Fortunately, if you upgrade the technology in your rooms, you’re doing better than three out of four hotels.
The hotel industry is constantly updating its offerings. Even if you’re just two years behind a new renovation, your competitor may be able to drive a higher rate but the only element you can control on a day-to-day basis is quality of service so we are assigning very good budget for development of our own team in terms of skills and knowledge at the same time, we are the only hotel in Pokhara with own training team and focusing on more quality service. We are also in the process of renovation of our rooms, halls and facilities to target high-end clients.
A strong team is the foundation of a successful business. As a team leader, what would you say are the qualities that define your team?
Yes, it’s true that a strong team is the foundation of a high-performing business and good team ethic can be held largely accountable for the success and smooth running of the organisation. If employees do not work well together, problems will arise. Effective communication within the teams, focus on goals and results, support, good leadership, and the ability to recognise and utilise strengths are the qualities that define my team.
How do you handle things when it goes south?
This isn’t a job for someone who is completely satisfied sitting behind a desk. Being a General Manager is always on the move, checking out all that’s happening in the hotel. Regardless of what business you are in, customer service can be challenging. Just stay calm, don't argue. First always listen with concern and empathy. Show a personal interest in the problem, concentrate on the problem. Don't promise the impossible, and don't exceed your authority and always set an approximate time for completion of corrective actions. Be specific, but do not underestimate the amount of time it will take to resolve. Monitor the progress of the corrective action. Follow up. Even if it was resolved, ensure that it was resolved satisfactory. This is how I handle things when it goes south.
Some attributes you consider to be your strength in this line of work.
Well, I’m prompt, I’m focused and I pay attention to details along with good leadership skills and interpersonal skills. I do consider myself result oriented, technically sound, while also providing good customer service and revenue management.
As Visit Nepal 2020 approaches what are the goals you have in mind and how do you see them come to fruition?
Well, Nepal is targeting 2 million tourists in 2020 and just to succeed VNY 2020, we have been collaborating with concerned government bodies, hotel associations, travel agents, trekking agents. Participating along with them in travel trades nationally and internationally will definitely create tourist demand for Nepal. I am very optimistic that by VNY 2020 there will be good yields for the tourism industry.
At the same time, we have expanded our visibility in most of the distribution channels, we have subscribed to the best revenue management tool with the association of well known product called RateGain along with reputation management tool. The hotel is also in the process of renovation of rooms, halls, outlets and facilities in order to uplift our products and attract high end customers and get excellent market share among our competitors set.