Companies

Cost managing by Marriott

R. Ravikumar Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 31, 2012

Mr Ankush Sharma   -  Business Line

There are no doormen in livery, no bell boys, no butlers and no pampering in most hotels these days. This is one of the various tacks hotels are trying out to control spending.

At a time, when enduring inflation, spiralling employee cost and rocketing utility bills bring margins in the hospitality industry under pressure, hotels are doing their best to keep their bottom-line intact.

They mix and match various combinations to figure out what exactly the guest would like to have and how much that would cost the hotel.

In general, cost-cutting has never served anybody well, says Mr Ankush Sharma, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott in Chennai. It will become immediately evident to the well-travelled guest if the hotel tries to cut corners. “I think the game is all about managing costs well,” he says.

“What’s the point in me giving you an idea of luxury by putting eight pillows on your bed only to see the next morning that six pillows are thrown on the floor and you actually slept with two,” he asks.

His hotel does not even keep a dental or shaving kit in all the rooms, “as eighty per cent of the people prefer using their own.” It keeps only basics such as shower gels, shampoos and body lotions in a toss-away kit – a barebones approach. But, if a guest wants them, it will be provided.

“And in the future, every time you come, all of them will be in the room when you check in,” he says. His hotel boasts 70-75 per cent occupancy on an average.

Utility bills

There are certain things over which a hotel has no control. “But there are certain things which we can control and manage better. The second area is where we concentrate more,” he says. Utility bills is one such thing, where the hotel made a difference. By cutting down wastage, it saved on its power bill substantially. Usually, during summer, power consumption shoots up. But, his hotel’s power bill went down by Rs 6 lakh in May. Mr Sharma says it’s all about monitoring smartly. He believes in the mantra that says what is not recorded cannot be managed. “Daily recording and daily follow-up is the key. We audit power consumption every day,” he says.

Open-minded managers always learn new techniques and apply them. “Nothing happens in a vacuum,” he says adding, “sharing ideas and opinions by exchanging thoughts makes one better.”

Procurement is another place where a hotel can get more efficient, always. The procurement department is told to reduce the expense month-over-month and product-over-product by so much, “and of course, without compromising on quality”.

Generally in star hotels, when it comes to table butter, jams or honey, one would not have seen anything other than Dutch, French or Australian produce. But, there are several equally good domestic brands available in the market. It’s all in the mindset, he says. One has to have an open mind. Every brand deserves a fair chance. “But, there are some products which we have to import. In those cases, we centralise our procurement,” he explains.

And, at a time when the hotel industry is going through a hard time finding employees, why position them where it is not required? Courtyard has realised that most business travellers stay only for two to two-and-a-half days, each time. They come with a small bag and a lap-top. Most of them prefer to lug it up by themselves when they check in, and do not want any help with their baggage, nor do they want someone to explain the room.

They do not want turn-down services in the evening, as they want more privacy. So, we do not have a bell-desk. But if the guest wants some help, our front desk people will surely do that.”

Also, by empowering associates, their efficiency levels can be improved as they will understand their responsibilities better.

Adding value

Mr Sharma believes in adding value to everything one does. “After all, our teams are a reflection of us.” Saying that he constantly tells his associates to follow these things, he handed out a pocket-size card, which reads: Be proactive – never ever react; The guest always has the benefit of doubt; Respect each other and their egos; Know what a deadline is; Your areas: walk them; Your budgets: Own them; Your costs: Manage them; Your revenues: Drive them.

>rravikumar@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 31, 2012
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