Mukesh Kumar MIH, Hotel Director at Carnival Corporation shares insight from the cruise industry, his positive thoughts on industry recovery and how he has kept his team motivated during the pandemic.
Tell us a little bit about your career history in hospitality including your current role.
It’s been almost 20 years of association with hospitality. I started with Marriot International as a graduate management trainee. I’ve been associated with Marriot, IHG, The Belfry and Carnival Corporation and have held General Management roles for the past 8 years.
My current role as a Hotel Director is one of the best professional experiences of my life. This role has accountability of 11-12 departments and on average responsibility for 750-850 employees. Of course, there are many management / supervision layers to support. Key accountability areas are driving TrevPAR, guest satisfaction, team morale, revenue enhancing opportunities and maintaining /enhancing asset. There is no typical day, but always a wonderful combination of operational and strategic work.
What was it that attracted you to the hotel sector originally?
Pace of the job, an opportunity to live a different day every day, to help people and grow myself personally and professionally. I loved the fact that this industry will always be run and succeeded by people who can manage human emotions well, whether of your guests or your team.
Why did you decide to move to in the cruise industry?
Scale – simply the scale. Working with a diverse force of almost 150 plus nations daily, managing guest expectations of our brand and the opportunity to being associated with the largest cruise brand, which owns 10 varied cruise brands across the world . Cruise liners are not different from hotels and it’s the same philosophy.
I am a firm believer that nothing is more exciting than for a professional to see what stretches her / him the most. I certainly challenge myself every few years and look for challenges which can reinvent me, along with helping my personal and professional growth.
What do you enjoy most about this area of hospitality?
Two things actually… the pace of my work and ensuring I stay a step ahead always, since the scale is huge. And seeing that huge smile of contentment on our guests and team members’ faces you meet them.
What have you been doing within the company during the pandemic?
It’s a phased activity where I am participating in moving from respond to recover. Currently working with our operational pause plans as guided, where focus has been the upkeep of asset along with implementing new working practices. There has also been focus on reorganizing and reviewing work processes to ensure safety and compliance with new norms and regulations which will enable overall productivity once we return to the operations. I see this as an excellent an opportunity to reassess and realign for fresh starts.
What long-term impact do you think it will have had on the cruise sector?
Commercially, in my personal opinion it’s going to be a very positive impact for the cruise sector. There is lot of pent up demand and with average savings per household at the highest levels, I do expect households to look for avenues to escape once we get over this pandemic. Being such an underpenetrated market, there is excellent scope for growth.
I also think that people’s behaviour towards interactions will change and will certainly be dictated by post COVID norms and I think it will only help us as a society to evolve for the better. Like some best industries, I do see the Cruise sector adapting and successfully relaunching itself very soon.
How have you kept your staff motivated over the last year?
In my role, most conversations and actions have shifted towards mental wellbeing, and sharing consistent positive outlook with teams, as we all know that very soon this will be behind us. Since physical distancing and extremely limited safe interaction is the new norm, thus as leaders we rely on various activities that have been designed to help any team member to reach out to any leader for support and advice. To name a few, virtual coffee chats, sharing health wellness videos, creating a sense of belonging by involvement and most importantly asking a basic question “what can I do to help you?” on a consistent basis.
What’s your top piece of advice on getting to the top in hospitality?
Be humble, stay hungry and always hustle.
What’s been the most memorable day of your career so far?
To be nominated and being a finalist for the Cateys General Manager of the Year 2017 award.
Which elements of IoH membership have you found the most valuable?
Virtual interactions, coffee chats, newsletters and reaching out at a personal level to some professionals for advice. I have always enjoyed my association with IoH and am very thankful for my learnings.
What would you say to someone considering joining IoH?
Undoubtedly the best platform to be associated within the hospitality industry. Knowledge sharing, mentorship and networking are key benefits one can gain. It’s benefitting me immensely and it’s highly recommended to any upcoming and established professionals.