An Enthusiastic Journey from leading F&B Department to a Cluster General Manager
In Conversation with Stephen Dsouza, Cluster General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton, Navi Mumbai where he leads business and operational excellence. Mr. Stephan has been instrumental in devising strategic approaches to enhance customer experience and promote
In Conversation with Stephen Dsouza, Cluster General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton, Navi Mumbai where he leads business and operational excellence. Mr. Stephan has been instrumental in devising strategic approaches to enhance customer experience and promote business growth and works with a team of passionate individuals who have the vision and will to come up with innovation for everyday challenges.
1. You started your journey at a very young age. Enlighten us about the experiences and what inspired you to come into the Hospitality Industry.
It all started at a banquet. I realized that I resonate greatly with the hospitality industry’s values regarding one aspect -family. I was born and raised in an environment where families stay together, which brings a sense of belonging and doing things together. That being said, hotels have a similar work culture – all departments and employees work in close coordination and drive towards a common goal. This work culture inspired me tremendously in my professional journey, right from leading Food and Beverage department, to an Operations Head, and now as Cluster General Manager.
Currently, I have the opportunity to manage two vastly different hotels – Four Points by Sheraton and The Resort. Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai is a fast-paced business hotel and The Resort, Malad caters to guests who prefer leisure and relaxation. My experience at iconic hotels in Mumbai, Singapore, and Chennai has helped me gain a holistic understanding of hotels and finding a common ground; which is being there for stakeholders, customers, associates, guests, owners, and operators. Interacting, learning, and being able to positively contribute is what inspires me to wake up and show up to work every day.
2. What does a normal day look like for a GM?
A General Manager’s day starts prior to entering the hotel. I begin my day by reviewing details of the previous day’s financials, guest experiences, social media, and emails. Walking into a hotel always gives me the joy of meeting and greeting the happy faces of my associates. Saying ‘hello’ and asking how they are doing and hearing their views of guests and the hotel helps me adopt an ear-to-the-ground approach. This is followed by quick reviews of administrative details. I enjoy being at the helm of things – one can find me at a hotel lobby, breakfast restaurant, events space, or the new lobby. Meeting with hotel leadership as part of my morning activity allows me to interact and share key happenings for the day and near future enabling me to align the entire team in one direction. In my opinion, it is important to take some time out to see and plan next quarter, and building the bridge ahead is crucial for stakeholders’ seamless journey.
Other key activities would be catching up with associates at a meal or coffee break, running a deep dive into guest feedback, and social media – which offers great insights into guest behaviour. As a personal habit, I make sure to pen down a few key pointers to accomplish the following day, and review the calendar for time management before heading back to operations.
Evenings are about meeting guests returning to the hotel or celebrating special occasions. Also, catching up with the sales and revenue team in the evening to review fresh market intelligence and competition performance is part of an everyday exercise.
For a General Manager, no two days are alike. It is important to be a juggler and have space for any unforeseen demands the day may bring.
3. An innovative initiative taken by Four Points by Sheraton Mumbai on this International Men’s Day. Please share your views on the installation of a diaper changing station in the men’s washroom.
This unique feature was inaugurated on the occasion of International Men’s Day and promotes gender equality. As a hotel, we witness footfall across all genders, and especially during the weekend, we have families as our guests. Hence, we realized the need to offer equal facilities to
both parents to ensure their visit is more comfortable. Residents and visiting guests can use this diaper-changing station at Four Points By Sheraton Navi Mumbai, Vashi.
While we aim to provide innovative and industry-leading facilities to our guests, this diaper changing station is a social initiative highlighting gender equality as we believe it is important to offer equal facilities to both parents, especially those who travel with babies and infants. This addition to the checklist of facilities offered at the hotel is a step ahead in this direction.
4. You’ve worked with so many renowned brands, please share one of the most memorable moments that you’ve experienced from each brand?
It is certainly a privilege to have worked with a number of Indian and international branded hotels. Each one offers a different perspective of the industry. For instance, some teach you customization, detailing, and thinking out-of-the-box and others impart lessons in being swift and adaptable. The sum total of all these experiences is that it gives you agility and flexibility to switch gears based on need and steer the team to be able to cater to the need.
5. EV Charging Station Initiative taken by the Four Points by Sheraton Mumbai. Do you feel EV is the Future?
Hoteliers are now uniquely positioned to differentiate themselves in an untapped market of Electric Vehicles (EVs) by investing in charging stations, which benefits visitors, hotel employees, and future business opportunities. Hotel brands have spent years investing in environment friendly business strategies to attract customers and boost their bottom lines. Electric car charging stations assist in these goals, but most crucially, they cater to evolving consumer demands. As the demand for travel rises, its impact on the environment will increase. The hospitality industry has always been at the forefront of innovation in design, facilities, and services; and at Chalet, we constantly thrive to overcome by innovating pertinent solutions. These innovations are usually inspired by changing consumer needs and demands.
EVs are indeed the future of mobility. We are closer to the times for the hotel industry to witness a trend wherein guests will prefer hotels offering EV charging stations as one of the facilities. It means that today’s luxury will move to a necessity and must-have facility.
6. Pivotal Role in changing the face of Hospitality and creating the uniqueness of remarkable holistic steps in the Hospitality Sector in the coming year.
The hospitality industry is at a juncture where leaders realise the importance of accelerating the adoption of innovative solutions to reduce carbon footprint and create a cleaner, safer, and sustainable environment for guests, the workforce, and the community. Green buildings focused on overall health hygiene and safety provide a safe working environment for employees and instill confidence among the guests. Sustainability is an important part of Chalet’s business ethics, and the company has acknowledged that a significant move toward values-driven purchasing is influencing people’s travel decisions.