A GLOCAL EXPERIENCE

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Ashwani Nayar , General Manager at InterContinental Dhaka, IHG, provides an insight into the growth potential of the hospitality industry of Bangladesh.

 

ASHWANI NAYAR
General Manager
Intercontinental Dhaka, IHG

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING THE GENERAL MANAGER JOURNEY TO TOMORROW IMPACT AWARD DURING THE IMEA IHG GENERAL MANAGERS CONFERENCE 2022 IN DUBAI FOR LEADERSHIP. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?

For me, leadership is inclusion. It is a process that encompasses 360 degrees and cannot happen until and unless there is a consensual agreement, understanding and inclusive participation by all stakeholders. The first and foremost stakeholder is the team that serves either in the front or the back of the house. The team brings all the dreams and visions of what hospitality encompasses to reality. Our guests are perhaps our most prominent stakeholders – people who come in seeking accommodation, food and beverage, or any other of the experiences we offer – swimming pool, gymnasium, conference facilities, weddings, birthdays, or anniversaries. The investor is another stakeholder – someone who has taken the risk and has brought all the various and necessary products under one roof so that we may provide services of hospitality. In this case, our investor is our owner, Bangladesh Services Limited, a public limited company under Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism. Perhaps, the most consequential stakeholder in all these is IHG, which is a global hotel corporation and one of the largest in the world. We have about 6000+ hotels globally and a company like IHG has the technical knowledge, understanding, and deep-rooted philosophy and ethos of hospitality. There are also the vendors who supply us with the raw materials that we require to process, finish, and bring finesse to our services. And a very prominent stakeholder is our community. It is important for us to be able to answer, “How is it that we blend into our community?” The InterContinental Dhaka is an iconic structure and has been a part of the very basic DNA of the capital city. It’s the oldest luxury hotel that came to Dhaka in 1966 and has seen how the city and the country have evolved. It has stood here like an icon – mute, but witnessed – and offered hospitality to the people during the most important times of change, a very prominent one being during the 1971 liberation war when this hotel was designated as the peace zone.
I lead by being inclusive of all these stakeholders. They have to get their fair share and returns which are not only benchmarks but leading ahead of the market. That’s how I like to move ahead with my team. I am what I am because of my team, not because of my singular effort. I was quite fortunate to have received the General Manager of the year from one of the leading hospitality institutions in India during the pandemic period for leadership and change. After that, I received the General Manager of the Year for the South Asia region from the International Hospitality Expo, and then the IMEA award which is the India, Middle East, Africa and Asia region. These were all on behalf of the entire team that worked towards making it possible.

 

WE WANT TO CREATE OUR OWN INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL, OUR OWN SERVICE CAPITAL, AND OUR OWN SERVICE STYLE WHICH IS BASED ON THE INHERENT STRENGTHS OF THIS COUNTRY.

 

 

AS A VETERAN PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS BEEN WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY FOR MORE THAN 3 DECADES, HOW DO YOU THINK THE BANGLADESHI HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY DIFFERS FROM ITS PEERS IN SOUTH ASIA?

What I have seen in Bangladesh is that the corporate travel demand has consistently outnumbered the supply of good hotel rooms or luxury hotel accommodations. The number of rooms available is far fewer than what the real demand is – which is an opportunity, especially for the suppliers or the investors in the hotel or hospitality services. But this imbalance needs to be bridged to make the market stable and mature. Examples of stabilised and mature markets would be Singapore or London. In these markets, there is new supply that is coming in but that is keeping in line with the demand that’s also growing.
Countries like India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have, at least for the past 2 to 3 decades, been driven by more supply and less demand. Bhutan has an exclusive approach to tourism – here is the number of facilities or services or hotel rooms available, and here is the number of visitors that we would like with a certain cap or ceiling on spending. On the other hand, compared to other palces in the region, Bangladesh has far more room to grow as a hospitality destination provided that the industry is supported by a robust supply side.
The other thing which is very prominent is that it’s a very inclusive market, a lot more than what I think some of the other cities in South Asia provide. Most of those markets have a sort of dependence on inbound or incoming international travellers and only some of the demand is taken up by the domestic consumption. Bangladesh’s domestic consumption is much higher, especially in terms of food and beverage. Even if the number of inbound international travellers reduces, the domestic consumption itself ensures, to a certain degree, that businesses of hospitality, food and beverages and dining remain viable and profitable. I think that is a very unique situation.

 

IN RECENT TIMES, INTERCONTINENTAL DHAKA HAS INCREASINGLY BEEN FOCUSING ON THE LOCAL MARKET. WHAT ARE THE UNDERLYING REASONS BEHIND THE STRATEGY, AND HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE WAY YOU DESIGN YOUR SERVICES?

Our investors and our designers were able to recognise the potential of the domestic market and the growth of the domestic market spending capacity early on during the refurbishment and rebranding of the hotel in 2018. While redesigning, they took the consideration of the local culture in the architecture. I think they realise that there is a huge potential which needs to be tapped into especially when it comes to spending on luxury stays or for social functions like weddings, anniversaries, or meetings. Being an international hotel company, the philosophy of ‘glocal’ – think global, act local – works very well for us. That’s our secret sauce – we provide a lot of local experiences, not only in food and beverage but in the aesthetics and the styling of the products and services. The biggest example of this is the smile of our teams which comes with absolutely genuineness – through the eyes from the heart. That is a very unique service style of this country. So, what we do is provide a little bit of international flavour and finesse and serve it to our guests, both domestic and international.

 

 

THE INTERCONTINENTAL DHAKA IS AN ICONIC STRUCTURE AND HAS BEEN A PART OF THE VERY BASIC DNA OF THE CAPITAL CITY.

 

 

WHERE DO YOU SEE BANGLADESH’S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS? DURING THE SAME PERIOD, WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR INTERCONTINENTAL DHAKA?

I was asked a similar question back in 2015-16 and my answer still remains the same – “It’s time to do business with Bangladesh. If you, as an international hospitality company, or an international hotel operator, are not present in this country already, you would find yourself missing in one of the key growth opportunities in the world.” Bangladesh is moving at a very sustainably fast pace. The market forces keep changing because of global situations and it’s a very healthy market to be operating a hotel in. If we bring the right product and services to our guests and we serve it with passion, we definitely have future profitable business.
The number of international hotels in Bangladesh has increased now. A lot of new brands have entered the market, and I know for a fact that a lot of other brands are under development and coming into the market, which is a very healthy and optimistic sign. IHG Hotels have recently launched Holiday Inn in Dhaka and we are in the process of introducing another one of our deluxe brands which is the Crowne Plaza Hotel. InterContinental, I believe, is the only luxury brand in the city at the moment, but that is changing. Given that, I think the next 5 to 10 years are going to be a very vertically inclined growth trajectory from a business perspective.
For IHG and the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka, the vision or the ethos is to bring the highest level of international hospitality service standards into what we offer. We are constantly looking at creating local partnerships and fine-tuning these to the highest international levels so that these experiences or these services or products can be weighed against whatever may be available in any top-selling international market anywhere in the world – whether it be Paris, New York, Bangkok or London. We don’t see ourselves as just offering what we have borrowed as intellectual capital or service capital from outside. We want to create our own intellectual capital, our own service capital, and our own service style which is based on the inherent strengths of this country. And we want to bring those to an international level and expose them both to the international and domestic travellers.

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
On Key

Related Posts

Rashed Mujib Noman, Country Director, Managing Director, Augmedix Bangladesh

REHUMANISING HEALTHCARE

Rashed Mujib Noman is the Country Director & Managing Director of Augmedix Bangladesh. Under his direction, Augmedix BD has experienced accelerated growth from a startup

Mashid Rahman, PMP

REIT FOR BANGLADESH

Mashid Rahman, PMP, Divisional Director of RANCON Holdings Ltd. explicates the concept of real estate investment trust (REIT) and its potential benefits for the Bangladeshi

Shabbir Hossain Khan, CEO, Doreen Developments Ltd.

A NICHE APPROACH TO LUXURY

Shabbir Hossain Khan, CEO of Doreen Developments Ltd. elaborates on the resilience and resurgence of the real estate sector post-pandemic, the evolving expectations of today’s

Ashish Kapoor Managing Director of Perfetti Van Melle

A PLAYBOOK TO THRIVE

Ashish Kapoor is the Managing Director of Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) Bangladesh. He is a business leader and has spent his entire career at PVM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.