Mumbai-born Bhagwan Balani, the General Manager of Hilton Hotel Mumbai with 23 years of experience has often been dubbed a 'turnaround man' for his ability to turning hotel business in to profit. He has climbed the ranks of hospitality patiently and humbly. Soon after Bhagwan took charge at Hilton Mumbai, he set a goal: aim at profits as his top agenda. His focus was to enhance guest satisfaction, revenue growth and employee engagement, which are key for any profitable business. His strategy of team building helped him to see changes in positive revenue generation. In his leisure time Bhagwan prefers to relax in the ambiance of a spa or spend quality time with his family, with no hesitation, he tells us it’s all about flexibility, in candid talk with Sitaram Mewati.
How have you turned around Hilton Mumbai?
As a General Manager, my prime focus was to enhance guest satisfaction, revenue growth and employee engagement, which are key for any profitable business. To ensure growth and revenues across all parameters and business profitability, I worked closely with the hotel team. The key was transparency in communication of every new business decision with the team members, which allowed them to understand the reason for business decisions, bringing clarity for them on what is expected out of them at work and how can they get self-encouraged to deliver results.
The clear channel of communication supported with refresher training on standard operating procedures for our team members yielded great results in not just our guest loyalty and satisfaction but ultimately accelerated revenue generation.”
Your F&B area has shown positive sign in better quality of service and food, how could you manage that?
The growth and success doesn’t fall in to line single handed. It has been possible with the collective effort of our team members. The successes of our food and beverage avenues are really praise-worthy. The positive energy and chemistry of our F&B team were refreshed with a surge of new ideas to create WOW moments for our guests; with innovation in guest recognition, new menus and personalised service. Much more added to guest satisfaction which turned out to be a success mantra. The guests are widely travelled and knows better about food and service standard. Their expectations are very high and they look for their Value for Money VFM. We in the service sector needs to be upgraded as per global standard and we have done it. The discerning travellers are satisfied with our services and food.
You have worked for many hotels; what is unique about Hilton Mumbai? The first moment that you step into this property, you get charmed by the beautiful décor and ambiance reflective of a 19th century inspired Presidential Palace. With this beautiful airport hotel comes the promise of quality and service. The Hilton worldwide is in its millennial year of celebration and with tremendous growth and focus on Indian market; the experience of working at Hilton Mumbai International Airport has been enriching and satisfying.
You are one of the few GM in India who has switched over from Sales and marketing how was your transition period from S&M to operations?
I have learned to delegate and to follow two important rules: treat people the way you would like to be treated, and stick to your promises. Even before making my mark in the field of Hotel Sales and Marketing, my journey in the industry started with Food & Beverage. My learning and experience attained from F&B career always kept me connected with the operations. With over 23 years in the industry, I have had constant support from great leaders and mentors who have supported me in my growth and development. Those who know veins of F&B along with S&M can always have a upper hand to tackle all the crisis areas.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Dealing with people, be it customers or staff; this can be most rewarding. I know as a young manager how much my General Managers influenced me and my development. I was given this unique opportunity, and I want to give back to my staff, by helping them develop and grow. My staff’s success is indeed my success.