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VIEW FROM THE TOP

Hospitality Education The Bookmark Solution

Tuesday, August 6, 2019, 16:34 Hrs  [IST]

Much of our Hospitality Industry lives in a self-sustaining time warp.

Most menus divide food into Indian and Continental. But what is ‘Continental Cuisine’? Is it the crepes Suzette we relished in Paris, the Werner schnitzel we savoured in Vienna, the paella we drooled over in Madrid or the delicious Reindeer steak in Helsinki? For that matter what is the similarity between Fish and Chips from a street-stall in London, haggis from a butcher in the pucca-pucca yachtsmen’s port of Crinan and Cornish pasties in an intriguing inn in the little West Country village of Mousehole (pronounced mousel!)

So, to start with, our hoteliers should, remove Continental from their thinking and call it what it is: European Cuisine. That would demand self-education but unless you educate yourself you certainly can’t teach others!.

Secondly, other hoteliers should take a cue from the guiding light of CGH Earth: Jose Dominic. His hotels project their strong ethnic roots in the uniforms their staff wear, the decor of their interiors, their architecture, landscaping and cuisine. It’s a totally immersive experience in the ethos of God’s Own Country seamlessly combined with the efficiency of the 21st century. Today’s well-heeled traveller is well-informed and unlikely to be taken in by “concrete shoe boxes with icing” crammed with glitter and faux antiques, and masquerading under such self-proclaimed titles such as Grand, Palace or Fort.



We seem to forget that our nation covers an area just 1.000 sq.km less than the whole of the European Union. We have 29 states and 7 Union Territories against the EU’s 28. Our largest state, Rajasthan is larger than the independent nation of the Congo. Our smallest state, Goa, at 3,702 sq kms is larger than any of the 8 smaller states in the EU. Most importantly, however, we have at least 4,365 distinct ethnic groups, studied by the Anthropological Survey of India. Each of them has its own unique customs, traditions and festivals. These have, for thousands of years, stoutly resisted being hammered into a one-size-fits-all identity in spite of the best efforts of some of the most single-minded despots the world has ever known.

In other words, if our hoteliers want to replicate the authentic ethnic experience offered by CGH Earth they have over Four Thousand unique options. All they have to do is to think out of the shoebox-with-icing mindset.

One simple way of setting this in motion, and constantly re-educating both our hoteliers and their current and potential guests, is to use the humble Book Mark.

All hoteliers know that guests ‘liberate souvenirs’ from their properties. Very often they are fairly insignificant things like cardboard coasters or DNT door-knob hangers. They do this because they want a memento of the hotel in which they had a memorable holiday. They are like the picture postcards and business cards which most hotels do not give.

We must tap this urge by creating book-marks capturing the diverse attractions of our nation. They should be issued in a series, like postage stamps: The States of India, The Wild Animals of India, The Turbans of India, The Dances of India, The Costumes of India, The Weddings of India, The World Heritage of India, The Musical Instruments of India, The Festivals of India and The Mountains of India to start with. One side of every bookmark should depict the attraction, along with a brief description. The other side should be left for the hotel’s use. Every bookmark should have a serial number indicating its series and its sequence within the series. Ideally, the bookmarks should be produced by the FHRAI, TAAI or FAITH and supplied at no-profit-no-loss to 3-star hotels and above. On check in, every registered guest should receive five of these bookmarks.

Book marks are small and used by every reader, their families and children and their friends and colleagues. And if the guest who gets them passes them around, wouldn’t that enhance its exposure? In every way they are more useful than business cards, very much more appealing and persuasive, and with an extremely long-lasting recall value.

Like stamps, these bookmarks will become collectors’ items and serve as a cost-effective reminder of both the hotels and the varied attractions of India.

(The Views expressed within this column are the opinion of the authors, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication)

 
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