A. K. M Sarwar, Manager, Sales & Marketing and Reservation, Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View

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Earning A Bright Spot

AKM Sarwar shares with IBT the recent achievements of Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View and how global exposure helped him hone his skills

It all starts with Understanding the property
Earning a bright spot in the hospitality industry requires a lot of hard work. Especially if you are catering to a diverse group of consumers; hailing from domestic as well as international fronts. Even though every hotel or resort has a set of offerings established; often, as hoteliers, we have to walk an extra mile, offer more than one aspires. Sometimes it’s not only about fulfilling a demand; it’s about creating an experience; memories that they find worth cherishing. This is why knowing the property where we work is so very important for us. I have been serving in Radisson Chattogram Bay View in various capacities for the last five years. I strongly feel there is a physical attachment to this hotel. Over the period, I have made friends; learned and taught tricks on doing the business better. My previous stint at various international set up has definitely honed my people’s management skill. It’s not only about how you deal with your colleagues; senior or subordinates; rather it is anyone stepping foot into the property. That’s very important for anyone aspirirng to be in the hospitality industry.

International Exposure Matters
The hospitality industry is a total service-based industry. You must deliver what you are expected to and at times you have to set new benchmarks. After completion of my stint at Parjatan Corporation as a student, I opted for Kuwait to gather some global experience. Working in three hotel groups namely, Hotel Hyatt Regency, Swiss Bell Hotel group and Mirage Suits Hotel for a period of seven years has enriched me with vast experience and enabled me to learn from the best in the business. Every chain hotel has its own set of rules and regulations and they are very strict about implementing strategies; because that allows them to work toward a set goal to be achieved in a given time. As a hospitality professional, I had to be careful about the cultural differences that we have between Bangladesh and Kuwait. It’s no news that as a kingdom, one hotel I worked for was owned by the royal family. This kind of strict work environment has instilled lots of discipline in me. In addition, the hotels I have worked for have seen footfalls of international clientele every day. Knowing about their cultural ethos too was rewarding as a hotelier. For anyone who would want to make big in the sales and marketing field of a hotel chain, confidence is very important and my global exposure has enabled me to earn that in plenty. Of course, the business graduate of today are highly connected with the outside world via social media but when it comes to dealing with complex issues, and making the right decision on right time one requires expertise and that’s why staying put in the one industry and gathering experience is important.

Looking forward to brighter days
In the business of hospitality industry, we have to be forward-thinking. If you consider Radisson Blu, we have 241 rooms. Now we might not have that much demand for our rooms, but in the future, the survey that the management conducted for this hotel after taking input from other teams and chains, the scenario will surely take a positive turn and the demand will swell up for sure. Chattogram is one of the most important cities of the country for its geographical positioning and business importance will surely see a surge of international visitors flocking in. But we must ensure the roads are in better conditions and the drainage system is improved. I must admit the political stability that we have now in the country is essential for any business to thrive. Connectivity is another crucial issue. For example, for Chattogram to become more lucrative to travelers, we must ensure that the journey from the Shah Amanat International Airport to the main city has to be a smooth ride. A bumpy ride will give the visitor a negative impression of the city. Though once they arrive at our premises, we leave no stones unturned to cater to their needs. But the next day when they go out for a meeting to the port or any other companies, the commute within or around the city is often a tough one due to long tailbacks. This is one area where we believe there is a huge room for improvement.

Giving Back is important for branding
As of our own responsibility, we have always been socially active and tried to have a good rapport with the locales and stand beside them in time of their need. Starting from distributing raincoats to providing aid to victims during a fire outbreak we have done some wonderful CSR activities which have certainly added value to our already existing brand portfolio.
We are taking care of a local school, such as painting and other infrastructure needs, that we are monitoring regularly. We also sponsor some children from orphanages to aid their education and fostering a period in their life for a better environment from them. We are also involved in other activities, such as beach cleaning, road painting. So, we are continuously involved in various activities for the community. The philosophy was given to us, for business, we can’t just focus on what we got, but also on what we will give.
Winning the Annual Asia Pacific Awards in the category of “Best Responsible Hotel of the Year” added another feather in the crown of this property. I must thank our General Manager Robin Edwards and my seniors and esteemed colleagues for this achievement.

Respecting the Cultural Nuances
There are no hotels in the country which has Mezban facilities, which is the pride of Chattogram. We have this kind of facilities. We are very aligned with that aspect of their culture. We have these kinds of facilities, our restaurant has fitting promotions for the locals. A while ago, in our Asian fusion, 1000 Tk all-inclusive we were running Mezbani promotions. This kind of promotional activities has taken us closer to the local people. Chattogram has a different kind of psychology among mass consumers. They are very price-sensitive, oftentimes. This is where we are actually trying to tap into the local guests by giving them the local facilities, the local taste through price-effective promotion. Also, we pay special respect to various foreign communities living here in Chattogram for business purposes. We organized Sri Lankan Night for the vast number of Sri Lankan people living here. The same kind of events can be organized for the other nationals; this allows us to make a bridge between cultures and bringing people closer. Recently, we’ll have Norwegian week, only for European people/ guests who are coming. While organizing this kind of events, we always listen to our existing guests. We let them guide us at times. We are a business hotel and corporates or businessmen who frequent here would want to unwind in a calm ambiance at the end of a long workday. That’s why we advertise about this hotel that can offer one the best sleep in town.

Understand the service philosophy
If someone wants to be successful in the service industry, they must be dedicated, honest. They must also understand the service philosophy. They need to keep some time for themselves in their daily lives, just to learn, which requires patience. No matter how you start in this industry, you will reach where you want to be, based on your dedication. In this industry, it is very much possible to progress rapidly. With both passion and patience, one must take the time to learn and truly understand what the service industry needs are and how it works. Once that phase is passed, they can also recognize the change in themselves.

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