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‘We don’t have a HIPPO approach here’

| Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 05, 2017

Vikas Bhola, head for Indian subcontinent for Booking.com

A travel buff, Vikas Bhola, head for Indian subcontinent for Booking.com, is in an ideal job as it keeps him on the move. In 2012, when the global online travel agent that facilitates hotel bookings entered India, barely 500 hotels here were registered on the platform. Today, it has got over 28,000 hotel listings and supply is growing 60 per cent year on year. Bhola, who joined the tech booking platform from the hotel industry (he started out with the Oberoi group, did stints at Hyatt and Kempinski among others) shares how he handles

The shift from a people-facing industry to a tech world

I was always fascinated with technology. Even in my hotel jobs, I was very clued into travel tech and used it a lot. In fact, I have invested in a few tech companies too. Those were all failures, however. But that gave me a lot of learning.

I find the speed and agility in the tech space fantastic. I love the energy as all the time you are changing and evolving. In hotels, that’s not the case. There you do minor tweaks in processes and innovations. Coming here also gives me a feel of how much more hotels can use tech to improve the hospitality experience.

Employee engagement

Here it is empowerment and allowing people freedom to do what they want to do. In our offices everyone works like an entrepreneur. They can make their own decisions, but the decisions have to be built on data. We don’t have a HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) approach here. Even the junior most employee can say you are wrong.

Stress

I travel. I am an adventure person. I do a lot of things. I could probably say this is a company that pays you to travel and experience the world. Last December I went to Japan for my year-end holidays, where I took Samurai lessons from a sensei. I also learnt Zen teachings from him. Then I went to Tokyo Sushi Academy and learnt how to make sushi. I went to Rishikesh to learn yoga. In January we had Booking.com’s annual meeting in Amsterdam, with 12,000 employees coming in. Then I went to the US, to Crystal river in Orlando to swim with the sea cows, a rare species.

There is stress like any other job. But when the job is so fulfilling and makes you so passionate about growing your market, you don’t feel it.

Staying abreast of events

For news consumption etc, I use Flipboard. I read a lot about economics. That and history are my favourite topics and they give me insights into how markets have evolved in different countries. That knowledge also helps me get a perspective on where markets are going and take decisions.

The daily routine

I travel more than 50 per cent of the time. But I am reachable on my devices (an iPhone, iPad and laptop). I start my day at the gym and am at office by 8 a.m. But I am off by 6 p.m. In the evenings I like to cook and do some activities.

Published on July 05, 2017
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