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Wednesday, 14 March, 2018, 15 : 06 PM [IST]

‘Personalised guest experiences will continue to dominate’

On being recently appointed as the Area Director – Mumbai and General Manager, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, Taljinder Singh oversees the operations of all Taj hotels in Mumbai – The Taj Mahal Palace, Taj Lands End, Vivanta by Taj – President, Taj Wellington Mews, and Taj Santacruz. He is the only Indian in the elite group of 36 hoteliers globally to share the secrets of managing some of the biggest, most successful hotels in the world, in the book ‘A Wealth of Insight’ by renowned communications consultant and interviewer Rahim Kanani. Singh in an interview with Akshay Nayak shared a sneak peek into his roles & achievements while working with Taj, and the brand’s evolution over the years.

Q You are the only Hotel GM from India who featured and contributed to a book on Luxury Hospitality by famous author Rahim Kanani. What are the key highlights of Indian and Taj luxury experiences that you shared with the author? How significant was it considering you represent a property and brand which is at the epitome of Indian luxury hospitality?
I embarked on this fascinating journey with the Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris in 1990 and have been with the group ever since. So yes, there is too much share and numerous experiences to talk about. The book captures my journey right from when I started as a management trainee to becoming the Area Director – Mumbai. My mentors have played a key role in shaping my career and have taught me valuable lessons that include the importance of investing in your teams, and the power of constantly challenging yourself to move beyond your comfort zone that have helped carve the way forward.

Q While Taj as a brand stands at the centre of Indian luxury hospitality, the whole concept of luxury hospitality has undergone a sea change with change in consumer behaviour and perception of luxury. How do you understand the broad changes in the consumer perception of luxury that evolved over a period of time?
Hospitality is amongst the most demanding of all service industries. As a hotelier, you need to achieve the balance between evolving with the times and staying true to the traditions and values that define you. Every hotel or hotel group in the world could have different approaches or guiding principles that have contributed to its success. At the Taj, it is about placing the wellbeing and comfort of our guests above all other considerations. This customer-centric approach has led us to where we are today, and it certainly deserves to be noted amongst the most important hospitality mantras of our times. Today’s traveller is extremely well-informed about the traditions and cultures that they would like to experience. Delivering on those expectations in the most authentic way possible is critical to success.

Q How Taj as a brand tried to recognise and adapt those changes in delivery of experiences in sync with the modern travellers’ outlook to luxury?
Investments are being made to ensure we are able to deliver the best guest experiences, infuse technology to know our guests better. Technology plays a key role in recognising and delivering on the expectation of modern-day travellers. The key is not to integrate technology for technology’s sake, particularly if it’s difficult to use. It must be simple and easy to operate, period.

Q As the Area Director, what kind of market trends do you feel will drive hospitality industry in the city in the coming year? What kind of improvement do you expect in terms of occupancies, ARRs, etc., in city hotels in the coming year?
Personalised guest experiences will continue to dominate the trend list this year. Supporting this, will be the growing role of the luxury concierge who will need to showcase extreme perceptiveness and in-depth knowledge of each of the guests, extracting and documenting their preferences to help deliver tailored experiences.
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