Hospitality’s Differentiator: An Interview with Sunjae Sharma, Vice President, Operations, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

A great scholar once remarked, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Any organisation requires vision to achieve its goals and a successful leader should be able to articulate these goals and inspire others to follow. Sunjae Sharma, Vice President India Operations, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, is one such leader, with exceptional leadership skills, foresight and business acumen.
Speaking to Today’s Traveller Coffee Table Book 2019, Sharma offers a succinct account of the Hyatt experience, how it leverages a competitive advantage in the marketplace and how it facilitates modern-day guests with its unique offerings.
Sharma initiates the conversation by referring to the genesis of Hyatt in India 35 years ago and how the brand set the precedent for exceptional hospitality achievement with the establishment of the Hyatt Regency Delhi. Today, Hyatt’s India portfolio includes eight premier brands – Andaz, Alila, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt and Hyatt Place and offers over 7,000 rooms across 30 hotels in 19 destinations.
A culture of ‘Yes’ is imperative in the customer-centric Hospitality Industry and Sharma is cognizant of this fact, saying, “Our purpose to care for people is at the heart of our business. Our portfolio of brands delivers superior value and is thoughtfully built across the globe, whether owned, managed, or franchised.”
Innovative design and signature experiences, striking architecture, expansive event spaces and world-class Food and Beverage offerings are significant deliverables in each of the Hyatt properties, whether it is Park Hyatt, Andaz, or the recent additions, including Alila Fort Bishangarh and Alila Diwa Goa properties.
Sharma dwells on the coveted hotel guest experience, which acts as a differentiator and helps Hyatt stay ahead of the curve. “The ‘World of Hyatt’ is a one-of-its-kind global strategic initiative to build and engage with a community of loyalists and to offer new experiences to our high-end travellers,” explains Sharma.
As part of this initiative, Hyatt launched FIND experiences, designed to delve into uncharted destinations and deliver unique experiences centred around food, drink, fitness, relaxation and exploration. Eligible World of Hyatt members can choose from over 100 experiences focussed on rejuvenation and personal care. Hyatt Dining Club provides customised experiences, namely, ‘Cook with Chef,’ an interactive session with Hyatt India’s renowned Chefs.
Each of Hyatt’s eight brands retains its own local flavour. The Andaz brand’s style quotient is distinctive – Andaz Delhi showcases Delhi-inspired artworks in each of its 401 rooms, as also a book titled, #401 Reasons To Love Delhi; The Hyatt Centric hotels are centrally located for guests’ convenience; Alila Fort Bishangarh and Alila Diwa Goa have crafted experiences which allow guests to interact with locals, while the Grand Hyatt hotels deliver quintessential destination experiences.
Sharma believes, “Destinations and hotels have a symbiotic relationship. We want to be where our guests are travelling and are extremely mindful of our expansion into new markets.” So, Hyatt Place offers a stylish, comfortable and value driven option for business travellers and families, and is relevant across a wide spectrum of markets. The Hyatt Regency brand in the affluent Tier II markets facilitates business and social events, premium weddings and conferences. Expansion plans are on the anvil in leisure and cultural destinations, including Dharamshala, Thrissur, Malayatoor, Udaipur, Dehradun, Vadodara, Vijaywada and Trivandrum.
One of the greatest challenges is that a great hotel is a 24/7 proposition, requiring a sustained customer focus. Hyatt tackles this holistically. Maintains Sharma, “Our culture is one that encourages a familial environment and we’ve designed the workplace experience to help our colleagues be their best selves.”
A very important aspect of this is Hyatt’s focus on equality. Highlighting this, Sharma said that, “At Hyatt, equality matters. Gender diversity matters. When more women join the workforce, everyone benefits – the company, the community, the economy. Which is why, at Hyatt, we view diversity, inclusion and respect for all colleagues as critical to our future success. Our commitment to creating an inclusive workplace is led by a CEO-chaired Global Inclusion & Diversity Council (GIDC) which works towards embedding inclusion and diversity into all areas of our business.
Our Women@Hyatt programme is a network of women and men who create initiatives and events that focus on ensuring that Hyatt has a truly inclusive work environment, making it the preferred workplace for women.”
About opportunities, Sharma believes that India has a high growth potential and is conducive to growing the brand. Accordingly, Hyatt kickstarted 2019 with the expansion of the Hyatt Centric brand, with the opening of Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa and the addition of two Alila properties – Alila Diwa Goa and Alila Fort Bishangarh (Jaipur) to its repertoire. Future plans include the launch of many new hotels and markets by the end of 2019, concludes Sharma.

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