NewsToday's Traveller Interviews

Nathan Andrews: Balancing the bugle of optimism with the alarm of caution

An industry veteran, Nathan Andrews – Strategic Advisor, DS Group, is a man of faith, both literally and figuratively which reflects in his career choices and the many challenges that he has embraced, willingly along the way

Some people make careers. Others follow their calling’. In a nutshell, it describes Nathan Andrews’s stellar career in hospitality and real estate consulting, which spans over four decades in India, Oman, and Canada.

Nathan Andrews,  Strategic Advisor- DS Group
Nathan Andrews, Strategic Advisor- DS Group

As the Strategic Advisor, DS Group, Andrews sat down for a tête-à-tête with Today’s Traveller Collector’s Issue — ‘Champions of Change’, to reminisce about the pre-pandemic days, the lull in business and how DS Group is forging its way ahead.

Straight-shooting in an unassuming way, Nathan Andrews begins the conversation by highlighting the diverse portfolio of DS Group. Nathan Andrews draws attention to the fact that the group’s diversified assets spanning across hospitality, FMCG, and retail are its strength, backed by a culture of innovation, technological integration, and a strong team.

The pandemic was unprecedented and hospitality did come to a standstill but Nathan Andrews who has seen many a turnaround in his 40-year career is steadfast in the belief of business recovery in the months ahead.

Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road
Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road

Balancing the bugle of optimism with the alarm of caution, Nathan Andrews does highlight an interesting fact and challenges facing the industry – Technological leadership, adaptation, and integration.

Nathan Andrews says candidly “Tourism in general and hospitality in particular, have been lagging way behind when it comes to technology. Our customers are getting younger by the day and they use more recent technology than we do. Sitting in our ivory towers, we do not realise that the gap between industry perception of what we think they want and unexpressed customer expectations is widening and this deep chasm isn’t good for an industry as service-oriented as hospitality. We must address this challenge of technology leadership immediately, without being geeky or letting go of the personal touch.”

Namah, Jim Corbett National Park
Namah, Jim Corbett National Park

DS Group which owns a stunning portfolio of hotels such as Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road, The Manu Maharani Nainital, Namah Jim Corbett National Park, Radisson Blu Guwahati, and Holiday Inn Express Kolkata is working on its customer-facing and back-of-the-house technology integration and Nathan Andrews is optimistic that they will bridge the technological gap sooner than later.

The group believes in going slow and steady with their real estate acquisitions and partnerships and Nathan Andrews is focussed on designing plans that are aligned with the group’s core strength of diversity.

Real estate and hospitality professionals love an ever-expanding portfolio and Nathan Andrews admits he is no different. However, the pandemic did thwart the plans of many, and Nathan Andrews has learned to be cautiously optimistic, sometimes slow even.

As he says disarmingly “The pandemic has reinforced an overarching lesson for me and others, that is, never to presume the future. There are no rules set in stone. The future is uncertain. We must expect the best, be grateful if things go our way, resilient enough to withstand the vagaries of destiny, and accept a different reality if needed”.

Such gritty advice is not often heard in an industry that thrives on unbeatable optimism but Nathan Andrews has never been the regular one in his storied career either.

Nathan Andrews abhors status-quo and loves change, which is a leitmotif in his cross-continental professional journey.

From starting out at The Oberoi, New Delhi in the late seventies to being a part of India’s booming retail culture, Nathan Andrews has adapted himself quickly, bringing the famed hospitality gentleman suaveness to the more demanding nitty-gritty space of retail operations.

Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road
Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road

Nathan Andrews candidly admits that he has worked his career around his core personality of thriving in paradigm-challenging endeavours and his fondness for change, both of which have stood him in good stead.

Life, especially in a senior advisory role for a conglomerate can be mentally stimulating and exhausting and Nathan Andrews emphasises his habit of penciling in downtime in his packed schedule – be it coffee with a friend, a family holiday, or mentoring young minds.

For the next generation of hoteliers, professionals, and the young crowd in general, the soft-spoken, silver-haired Nathan Andrews has an unconventional piece of advice “Be like a spare wheel – always ready, always be prepared to step in or step up, as the situation may demand. Until then, seize the day. Carpe Diem, my friend!”

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