Abhinav Narsingh Rana is the new general manager of Hotel Annapurna. Rana has more than two decades of experience in the hotel industry. We recently talked to Rana on different issues related to Nepali tourism industry as well as his hotel. Excerpts:
You have been recently appointed as the general manager of Hotel Annapura. What are your main challenges?
The main challenge for me is to preserve the prevailing hospitality culture. Besides, I will be focusing more on service with empathy as this is what our guests want. I will be focusing more on communication skills, both internal and external, as this directly enhances the guest experience at the hotel and creates unique impression. The guests can take back nothing except the memories and I want them to take home the everlasting memories at our hotel by providing them better service.
The number of tourists is decreasing. In this situation, how can attract more tourists at your hotel?
We have not been able to match the quality along with the expectations of the guests. In addition to improving our quality, we have to change the monotonous traditional marketing strategy and offer some unique experiences to the guest. The quality we provide should match expectations of our guests. Besides, we need to put in place monitoring policy so that the standard can be maintained and more tourists can be attracted in Nepal.
India is the largest market for Nepali tourism industry. How do you plan to cash in on positive vibes generated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s recent visit to Nepal?
We have been losing the Indian market. Once Nepal used to be a shopping paradise for Indian tourists. Later casinos attracted Indian tourists. But both of these factors are not attracting Indians anymore. The closure of casinos has brought down the business by almost 30 percent.
If we are to attract Indian tourists, we need to offer them new packages and new destinations. Besides, we must be able to cater the desire of Indians at affordable price with better service. Or else Modi´s visit or any other thing will not help our business.
What are the challenges of the hotel industry in Nepal?
Load-shedding has become the major challenge for us as it increases our energy bill by at least four times. The money we would have otherwise spent for quality and upgradation of the service has to be allocated for buying diesel. We also face problems in getting fresh quality food products at reasonable price. As a result, we need to import many food items to maintain our standard. We do not value fresh skilled manpower and the same people are in the higher levels of the industry which hinders innovation in the sector. Besides, for those who have worked for so many years in this industry, we do not have retirement policy.
What should be done to attract more tourists to Nepal?
First of all, we should focus on what we want to offer to our guests. Nepal can be promoted as the best leisure market focusing on soft adventure. We try to cater Meetings, Incentives, conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segment. But do we have any conference hall of international standard with latest technology where we can accommodate at least 300 people? So, we should focus more on what we have and this will definitely bring in more tourists.
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