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‘We are one of the prime hotels in Kochi’

Monday, September 16, 2019, 14:36 Hrs  [IST]

Having worked with The IHG Group for more than 12 years, Shuvendu Banerjee, General Manager of Crowne Plaza Kochi follows an open and approachable leadership style, and believes that a high performance team is the backbone of every successful hotel. His strong commercial and operational background has helped him in, leading a gamut of responsibilities, and understanding profitability across properties. In conversation with Asmita Mukherjee, Banerjee opens up about the future plans of Crowne Plaza Kochi and his strategies to take the hotel to greater heights.

Q What initiatives have you started in the hotel which have contributed immensely to the business?
Ensuring a personal and warm sense of welcome, continual training on elevating guest experience and the importance of loyalty recognition has paid off in terms of the fair share of patronage we enjoy among our regulars. Being a hotel with a strong F&B foundation has also meant that it is imperative we continually strive to bring innovative and relevant offers and promotions that create popularity in the local market we operate in, and which resonates with the principle of true hospitality that IHG is famous for. We have also taken a lot of initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint and won the Green Engage award which was in recognition for best environmental practices.

Q What are your plans for the year and beyond?
We have big plans for the coming year and my priorities are going to be bettering the momentum we enjoy with regards to the guest experience and overall F&B experience. We are also working towards an expansion plan that will bring more world cuisine to Kochi and will be a novel

Q As a General Manager, what are your strategies to make the various components of the hotel like F&B, Health Club, Spa, and others self-sustaining, so as to reduce the dependence on room business?
We have been thinking out of the box and also leveraging our F&B capabilities, while looking beyond the rooms business to brick wall our revenue. Kerala enjoys a strong market due to MICE opportunities. During flood periods, we trained our focus on events from governmental groups and other out of the box initiatives and strategies which included orders for outdoor catering. My team was also instrumental in achieving the highest revenue against its target despite the challenging environment.

strategies which included orders for outdoor catering. My team was also instrumental in achieving the highest revenue against its target despite the challenging environment.

Q What differentiates Crowne Plaza from other hotels in Kochi?
We have the highest number of F&B outlets when compared to any other five-star hotel in the city, and most of them are quite popular and acclaimed restaurants, which mean that our share in the F&B market is quite large. Both Trilogi, our Keralite specialty restaurant; and Mosaic, our all day dining restaurant recently won notable awards. SkyGrill, our rooftop lounge has one of the highest alfresco area at 200ft above sea level with a spectacular view of the backwaters and is also one of our USPs. We have a 24-hour Lounge – Aroma, which is a good choice for high powered tête-à-tête or creative meetings. We also serve a variety of cuisine and have access to many international chefs through IHG, which is why we are able to bring world cuisine to Kochi.

We have one of the biggest spas in the city where one can enjoy western as well as Ayurvedic therapies making it a perfect choice for rejuvenation holidays. We have a high demand for our Ayurvedic packages which is very well accepted by the local market, as well as, tourists from the Middle East who travel in during the monsoon season.

Q Considering Kochi is a tough market with both international and domestic chains contesting for market share, how do you feel your property will perform across different parameters like ARR, RevPar, etc. in the coming year?
We have been growing YoY in RevPar and are expecting to grow next year as well. Kerala may have had its challenges with regard to the floods and various other issues but there have also been opportunities to grow. Kerala is a strong market for inbound tourism and Kochi being a transit point, in addition to Crowne Plaza's strategic location being close to Alleppey and Kumarakom, makes us an apt choice for our guests.

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