With two state-of-the-art hotels and four world-class restaurants (Sirocco, Mezzaluna, Breeze and Distil) under a single roof in Bangkok, Thailand, and an award-winning lodge in Rotorua, New Zealand, lebua Hotels and Resorts has prided itself on redefining the concept of luxury since its inception in 2003. And now, the luxury hotel chain has set its sights on India.
In India recently, Deepak Ohri, CEO of lebua, said the chain is planning to enter the Indian market within the next year and a half. In an interview with Lounge, Ohri explains some of the tricks of the trade in the luxury hotel business and talked about what enures 100% customer satisfaction. Edited excerpts:
Don’t interrupt and interfere
The high spender knows what he wants, he will ask for information or help when he wants it. When someone comes to your restaurant, don’t begin educating them about which wine to have, what grapes it is made from or how premium it is. He is there precisely because he knows you have the best. Don’t mention the price, in fact don’t show him the menu. Just pour your best wine.
There is a lot to learn from the cruise industry. It’s a sector that sees maximum customer satisfaction. That’s because the minute you embark on a cruise liner, you’re taken care of with lots of activities and parties. At lebua in Bangkok, we do customized tours like the Temple of Sunrise. We take our guests in the local, but hotel-owned and -designed, Thai tuk tuks (a mode of transport). As the guest is watching the pink sunrise, we serve them pink champagne. Or we take them to the spice market in Bangkok to shop for spices and condiments that our chefs are using in their recipes. When we finally arrive in India, I would love to take my guests to places like Chandni Chowk, in customized rickshaws driven by well-trained tour guides. It doesn’t mean that you don’t let them lie back and enjoy your hotel’s hospitality, but in case they show interest, design their outings for them with some special touches.
Create an entry barrier
Keep only 10 bottles of beer in the bar. Your premium restaurant is not for the beer client. Also if you get calls like, we’re a group of 25 people coming to your restaurant, and we need a group discount, do not entertain such requests. It will be a deterrent for others sitting in your restaurant. You don’t want to over-crowd your restaurant. You want only 10 people to be sitting there, even if there’s space for more. Learn to say no.
Do not disturb
Follow that rule strictly. We have an in-suite spa in our hotels because we believe our guests don’t want to walk down in their bathrobes to the lobby. Or if they’ve asked for morning tea or coffee, don’t barge into the room. Leave it at the door and go.
Train your staff
Your staff has to be an intelligent group of people. They have to read and analyse a customer and give him exactly what he wants. I was at a Harrods perfume store recently and I asked for a Roja Dove. He immediately started showing me customized perfumes and didn’t just pick up already bottled perfumes right from the shelf, because he understood that I’m discerning when it comes to scents.