Saturday, 6 January 2018

Being social and socially responsible!

Mrs Marina Varghese looked at the beautifully laid out dining tables in the dining hall, the well decorated Christmas tree in the centre and the red, green and silver decorations around the hall, much of which had been her daughter Shannon’s ideas. The Christmas carols being played softly in the background created a sense of serene festivity. She was very proud of how her little boutique hotel had shaped up with years of careful personal touches and now every year, throughout the year it enjoyed a steady inflow of guests from around country as well as from overseas who came to spend the year-end festive season in Kerala. The word of mouth from past guests had helped greatly in making the hotel popular. The feedback on the popular travel portals were indeed effective.
She checked her watch and noted that in exactly 20 minutes the pre-lunch drinks would be served in the lounge after which the guests would move to the restaurant for the Christmas lunch. She needed a few minutes to sit down and catch her breath before the real bustle started. She remembered the years of struggle when she was widowed at a tender age with only an infant girl for company and no other support. Her husband who had been serving in the army had been martyred in the line of duty. All she had been left with was the family’s ancestral house and some land around it. She had opened a small bakery and started catering to birthday parties and other festivities alongside. It generated a regular income and before long she had started a paying guest accommodation and started renting out the extra rooms to working ladies.  It started well and in approximately five years, she managed to take a moderate bank loan and extend the house to make it into a boutique hotel. She stumbled but persisted and learnt from her failure and today she was considered a successful hotelier and an effective businessperson. She had dared not give up for at the time when she had commenced her business, she had constantly reminded herself that she had a daughter to bring up, educate and inspire. She had to groom her into a competent lady. When Shannon was ten years old, Mrs. Varghese had sent he to The Good Shepherd International School and there she studied not only till her high school but also with the Finishing School learning the various life skills, career skills and the professional skills that would be of value to deal with people especially in the hospitality business. She also did a higher degree in hotel administration to add to her professional skills.
Shannon was now all of 22 years and fully committed to the running of her mother’s business.  Mrs. Marina Varghese often observed her daughter quietly when she dealt with enquiries, guests, the staff, the suppliers and corporate clients. From the shy little girl, Shannon had turned into a charming, poised and confident young lady who was now adept at dealing with different kinds of people and addressing their different needs. She was very active in the local community too. helping in Church activities to raise funds for the local orphanage and old age home. Just the other day, Rev. D’Souza had made it a point to regale Mrs Varghese with details of all the wonderful work that Shannon had been doing on behalf of the church.

Although Mrs Marina Varghese still had a tight grip on the operations of the hotel, she was happy to go along with the many new ideas and initiatives Shannon was initiating to make the hotel more attractive to the families who came to spend their vacation.  The hotel had about 20 rooms, a combination of double occupancy and family rooms. These days the bookings were all completed online and much in advance. Shannon fully understood the importance of using social media to promote the existing business and generate new business and used it to her advantage. The location of the hotel, the view, the well-manicured garden, the spa and Jacuzzi, baby-sitting services for children, safe play zone for kids, organic food and attentive staff all ensured good customer satisfaction. Mrs Varghese wanted to build up another floor and discussed this with Shannon but as Shannon pointed out to her, there was no limit to aspiration, however the point was to manage well what they had and not grow beyond their capacity to manage happily, the point was to enjoy and be satisfied with what they did and participate in the community development activities as well.  Mrs Varghese knew that Shannon was right and she credited her Schools for instilling the right values, giving a balanced perspective and the ability to be socially responsible. She knew that when the time came Shannon would be able to run the hotel independently and with efficiency and good sense. But for the present, it was time for the Christmas lunch to commence and Mrs Varghese stopped her thoughts and went to ring the bell.

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