An Astute Boniface Making Waves For Quality & Remarkable Experiences
The most daring entrepreneurial journeys take the most unusual route. Individuals need blazing enthusiasm and resolve to see their idea to its fruition. But becoming a successful hotelier requires more than just passion. The hospitality sector is a massive vortex of rising rivalry, the control of eminent hotel chains, shifting customer demand, and price variations. Yet there are incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs who can target their offerings at travelers.
A skilled professional can explore untapped prospects and transform obstacles into long term gains. For our most recent edition, “CEO of the Year 2022,” we are featuring resilient luminaries creating tailwinds with their innovative leadership. We couldn’t think of a better industry to explore than hotel and hospitality, where leaders are known for their focus, commitment, and sheer will.
Our search got us in touch with Mr. Kaushik Kurkal, Founder of the Monarch Group of Hotels. A charismatic hotelier, Kaushik aspires to establish a PAN-India hotel network that provides five-star service for a fair price. Our editorial board had a candid conversation with him to learn more about his journey and goals. The following article is a holistic view of the discussion.
BUILDING HIS SACRED GROUND
“Purpose is the reason you journey; passion is the fire that lights your way.” A person can work in any industry for a long time. But, without a burning passion and drive, the enthusiasm will wane. Kaushik started his career at a real estate enterprise, but soon he realized his calling was elsewhere. He was intrigued how the Indian hospitality industry was making waves and wanted to explore its opportunities.
While he had no background in hospitality, his aunt had a hotel in Navi Mumbai. The hotel was functional, but, Kaushik found potential ways to redefine its operations with more sophisticated and disciplined supervision. His aunt saw potential and being a generous person handed him the opportunity. Kaushik upheld his promise and increased the hotel’s overall sales and guest count, in just eight months!
His focus was to increase corporate bookings, and as occupancy increased, he sought to expand and start his hotel chain. During this time, he found a gap in the quality of services at many upscale hotels. Business travelers typically reserve rooms for extended stays, and while hotels’ services were premium, the quality of the experience wasn’t. Kaushik sought to close this gap with value-added services. “I started providing services of three- or four-star quality at a no-star hotel,” he says.
While he had a marginal profit, with only 20 rooms in the hotel, he ensured a scalable quality. Gradually, the consistency started drawing the attention of business travelers and investors too. With The paperless model is cost-effective, safeguards guest information and helps in adhering laws and regulations. It also allows to upgrade the overall experience by including real-time benefits for guests. Ultimately, Monarch takes care of every requirement for a joyous experience, adhering to the mantra “Atithi Devo Bhava.”
WELL-ENDOWED IN RESEARCH & INNOVATION
Given how the hotel industry is evolving, from process improvements to innovation implementation, every hotelier struggling to make ends meet. For Kaushik, it’s nothing different. Finance has been the main hurdle in his expansion, but his tenacity has helped him find trusted sources. This, he invested in data analysis and research to increase his footfalls. The efforts bore rich fruits, one of which is The Monarch Chakan. But how?
Kaushik explains, “Located in the outskirts of Pune, Chakan was a largely untouched market.” There was only one upscale hotel and around 700 MNCs in the area. After extensive research, I discovered that even for a new player, it will take at least five years to create a market.” He took a more sensible approach and invested in renovating a building to his specifications. Today, the hotel has 115 rooms and enjoys about 85% occupancy.
Besides expansion, R&D activities helped him in expanding presence and attract more customers. For this, it partners with OTAs to market its services and be more connected with customers. Monarch primarily targets the local market, which remains underserved by big brands. The value-added services welcome positive reviews, further boosting the brand’s online sales.
KAUSHIK KURKAL – A PARADIGM OF PEOPLE-CENTRIC LEADERSHIP
In the hospitality realm, “survival of the fittest” is a common mantra and leaders lead by it. Kaushik, on the other hand, sees leadership as a collaborative effort. Rather than being autocratic or micromanaging, he believes in inspiring and engaging people toward a common goal. At the heart of Monarch’s culture, he ensures that the most valuable asset are employees. This mindset has kept their sails high even in the roughest storms. Kaushik started his journey with five other people who are now his partners.
The core team is still unchanged, and the focus on integrity and team building ensures good camaraderie. The emphasis on the needs of the employees says a lot about Kaushik’s leadership. He believes and strives to be a teammate, not just a member of the squad. He advocates honesty and believes in resolving issues with genuine facts, upholding respect and fostering equitable prosperity for all.
ONWARD TO BECOME A BUZZING NAME
In just four years, Kaushik has made great strides, and each of his hotels is proof of this. The Belmonte House by Monach in Udaipur is one of its crowning jewels. Another one is the C (Cabo Cruise) in Thane (First floating restaurant in Thane). But, the journey hasn’t been smooth sailing. One of the astounding challenges was navigating through COVID-19, which completely shut down the hotel industry. Kaushik faced his fair share of struggles as well.
But even in the midst of the chaos, he made the most of his time. “Prior to COVID, I had only two hotels, but after the pandemic, I had eight!” he reveals. There were many cancelled rental agreements for hotels, and he took advantage of the situation. Surely this was risky, but he still came out a winner. He lives by the motto, “Be committed and devoted to your purpose, success and money will come in time.”
Kaushik’s resilience stems from his endeavors to start from nothing, assemble a talented team, and launch opulent hotels. He is currently expanding in south with focus on driving exceptional customer experience. The goal is to make sure that clients don’t think the services are subpar and that there is always something new. In other words, he wants his clients to have high expectations for his hotels since they deserve nothing less.
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