The key to providing luxury service on the guests’ terms through technology
Have you ever dreamed of starting a new luxury hotel brand?
Roseate Hotels is a case study of what it looks like to do this successfully. In just a few short years, the brand has opened 6 luxury hotels in India and the U.K. that consistently top guest satisfaction charts - and more hotels are in the pipeline.
Roseate Hotels CEO Kush Kapoor recently spoke with us about what he learned from his own journey to hospitality leadership, the process of launching a new luxury brand, and how technology supports the brand’s operating philosophy.
Kapoor has worked in nearly every job available in hospitality, making him uniquely qualified to speak about what it takes to run an effective hotel operation. “I’ve found it to be a fascinating journey,” he told us.
After starting as a housekeeping attendant, he moved back to his hometown in North India, joining a new brand as a dishwasher and waiter before joining Taj Hotels as a receptionist. “I grew a lot in that organization,” he recalled, moving between cities as he took on new roles at other companies with increasing responsibilities.
One of those roles was opening one of the biggest hotels in India for the Leela Group, a luxury brand. This led to him winning the “Innovative Hotelier of the Year” award from Hoteliers India and earned him the opportunity to open the first hotel for Roseate Hotels as general manager. From there, he was promoted to regional manager, and finally to CEO at the company, his current role.
Kapoor’s enthusiasm for hospitality was obvious from the start of our conversation. “Hospitality is not a job if you ask me,” he said. “It’s a way of life.” To illustrate, he shared an analogy that he shares with each of his new hires.
“Let’s say you invite me to your home for dinner. As the night gets closer, you’re looking forward to it. You’re tidying up your house, and getting the food ready. You’re watching the door as the time comes for me to arrive so you can receive me, give me a tour of your house, and bring out the food. We’ll have a great evening of conversation, and when I’m leaving you’ll bring me out to the gate to wish me farewell. That’s what happens daily as a hotelier,” he explained.
“We are waiting for you to check into our hotel. We make sure you have the best accommodations, and everything is ready for you. We make sure you have the best food and drinks. And when you leave, we wish you farewell. So what you do for a friend at your home is what we do all the time at a hotel - but we get paid to do this!”
Hospitality is fun and meaningful if you look at the industry this way, Kapoor says. He enjoys the challenge of providing authentic luxury hospitality to people from all walks of life. And he enjoys the diversity.
“The hotel industry is the only industry in the world where you consistently meet everyone from a carpenter, to a plumber, to a scientist, to a doctor, to a member of the armed forces, to a professor - and so many more. Everyone has a different background and a different story. Being able to meet them and care for them is what makes hospitality the best profession in the world.”
While many dream of starting a new luxury brand, the company behind Roseate, Bird Group, had a unique perspective from which to build.
The Bird Group developed a legacy of innovation in travel for nearly 50 years, with diversified holdings across travel technology, aviation, hospitality, retail, and education. The late Dr. Ankur Bhatia, former Bird Group Executive Director, was a pioneer of automation in airline reservations in India, bringing the Amadeus brand to the Indian sub-continent in 1994. Well-traveled and with a unique perspective on luxury hospitality, Dr. Bhatia had a vision for introducing a new brand that catered to savvy, cosmopolitan travelers.
Their goal was ambitious: to build the best luxury brand possible.
The first Roseate hotel opened in Aerocity, a purpose-built hospitality development 10 minutes from Dehli International Airport. Less than a half-hour away from the corporate hubs of Gurugram and Delhi, the location provides both convenient access and a calm respite from the Indian capital’s hustle and bustle.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better location to launch a luxury hotel brand catering to sophisticated business and leisure travelers. But the development already contained more than 4,500 hotel rooms from luxury brands such as JW Marriott and Pullman, and the founding team knew they had to do something different to stand out.
“We were absolutely clear we had to be innovative. So we picked things to do that other brands would find it hard to copy.”
Some of the ways the brand does this is done on a large scale, like sustainable, LEED gold-certified architecture and Fendi-appointed interiors. But it also takes place in small ways, like offering freshly cooked breakfast 24/7 to cater to travelers coming in from different time zones.
While there are many elements that go into providing luxury hospitality. Having the right systems is something Kapoor has learned to be vital over his career.
“The wrong system means too much paperwork, inefficient use of staff time - and lower operational excellence overall.“
The Bird Group reached its market leadership position through establishing and building strategic relationships. That philosophy was foundational to how the Roseate brand was developed.
“We don’t do short-term relationships,” Kapoor told us. “We need partners that would support us both today and for the long-term.”
In 2009, the Bird Group started a strategic relationship with hospitality technology provider Shiji Group to market the brand in India. More than a decade of working together in that capacity gave them the confidence to want to use the company’s products in their hotels from the beginning.
If working with the right partners is important, what criteria did they use to identify Shiji as a strong partner?
“You want to be very sure that a prospective partner is the right partner for you before you begin,” Kapoor shared. Two factors stood out about Shiji Group during the first stages of working together to launch Roseate Hotels that gave them confidence they had chosen the right partner.
The first was transparency. “The Shiji team was transparent from day one about the strengths and weaknesses of their offerings.” This inspired confidence and made it easier for the team to plan.
The second was guidance and support. “They held our hands from day one, taking time to understand what we were building and guiding us through this journey of launching the new brand.” This made an impression in the early days of the brand, and the 24/7 support availability continues to be a key element of its success as the brand grows.
These factors are key, and there was also a technical requirement that was important to Kapoor and his team.
“The most useful technical aspect of what Shiji offers is their open APIs that allow me to integrate to any third party application whenever and wherever I want,” Kapoor shared.
Just as luxury hospitality is about maximizing options for guests, luxury hospitality providers need the same diversity of options to be able to choose the technology that will best serve their needs. APIs provide that ability.
“Shiji group has a comprehensive suite of product offerings, but there are some point solutions we wanted to connect with, and their approach of open connectivity enables that.“
Technology changes so quickly and this way of operating is positioning the brand for opportunities to evolve and grow.
“Open connectivity makes life so much easier for us. I have peace of mind that I have the flexibility I need.”
Once the Roseate team decided to proceed with the implementation of Shiji’s technology, they benefited from their support during the onboarding and activation process.
“I felt at each step they were our partners. They anticipated challenges and presented solutions,” Kapoor said.
Running a hotel is complex, and this level of support is something all hoteliers should look for.
This provided peace of mind that allowed Kapoor and his teams to focus on other elements of running their business. “I could sleep peacefully in the night because even if something went wrong, I knew our partner was always awake and available to help us 24/7.”
Once Shiji’s technology was activated for the brand, Kapoor quickly saw the impact.
“Using cloud-based technology meant no server hardware, setup, security, power, or maintenance was needed,” Kapoor shared. “We saved a lot across each of these areas and made our hotels a lot more profitable.”
The capabilities of Shiji’s technology, the support provided, and the profitability realized quickly made it a foundational element of Roseate Hotels’ development.
“Shiji technology has become a backbone of our brand. And when your back is strong, your business can always grow by leaps and bounds. That’s what we’ve been able to do with them.”
For Kapoor, the role of technology is to make things more efficient behind the scenes and free up the staff to provide a more human, caring experience.
One of the first examples of doing that was getting rid of paperwork. “Everything is on Shiji’s Infrasys product on a tablet for our teams now,” Kapoor shared.
Servers are able to push a button and the chef in the kitchen is instantly notified. They no longer need to walk into the kitchen and explain the order to the chef. “This means they can spend more time with the guest, which leads to higher guest satisfaction because they’re giving more personal attention.”
Roseate staff sees the benefits. “If you ask anyone on my food and beverage team, they’re much happier now. Because our systems are so efficient with Shiji, my frontline staff is more confident, they have more time, and are able to develop more expertise than if I wasn’t working with Shiji.”
With technology in place that enables their team to provide attentive service, Kush and his leadership team can focus on building the brand and delivering consistent quality. Part of that is ensuring consistent excellence, and part of it’s coming up with ways to surprise and delight guests above and beyond that.
“We love to find ways to provide what our guests don’t expect from typical luxury brands. We love to wow them and give them experiences they will talk about with their friends.”
This is how technology can create a flywheel that drives the business forward.
“This all leads to more revenue and more profitability, driving the business - and our growth goals - ahead.”
Today, Kapoor is on a mission to share what he has learned with others.
“I have lots of hotelier friends, and I always refer them to Shiji Group anytime they mention technology needs. If Roseate Hotels was not working with them, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are today. They’ve made a tremendous difference in our business.”
“Technology, and how you use that technology in your day-to-day operations, is what helps you stand out,” Kapoor said in closing. “That’s what working with Shiji Group has done for us. We’re more efficient, we’re able to empower our teams, and delight our guests. And that is what helps us grow and become better as a brand.”
Shiji Group is a multinational technology company that provides software solutions and services for enterprise companies in the hospitality, food service, retail, and entertainment industries, ranging from hospitality technology platforms, hotel management solutions, food and beverage, and retail systems, payment gateways, data management, online distribution and more. Founded in 1998 as a network solutions provider for hotels, Shiji Group today comprises over 5,000 employees in 80+ subsidiaries and brands in over 23 countries, serving more than 91,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants, and 600,000 retail outlets.
Roseate Hotels and Resorts is a collection of 6 luxury hotels across India and the U.K with more under development. Avant-garde, imaginative and contemporary in design, each Roseate hotel has a story to tell. Focus is put on the service, aesthetics, and detailing of hotels that pave the way to stylized accommodation with high business efficiencies at city hotels and exquisite leisure options at resort locations. For further details, please visit: www.roseatehotels.com
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