“Lying to a Guest is Cardinal Sin”

From a Management Trainee 14 years ago, to leading Citrus Hotels, Gaurav Pallial has played a key role in the strategic growth and development of Citrus. It is not merely his rich experience, but also his team handling and understanding abilities that make him an inspirational leader.

Are you looking at moving to other cities?
Sure Citrus plans to add hotels across the country. We have just added a hotel in Gurgaon and evaluating other Northern cities. Our Jodhpur hotel will hit the market by year end. The chain is also looking at consolidating opportunities in South and west with hotels in Nagpur, Chennai, Mysore, Pench and Alibaug.

Who is your target audience and why?
Our target audience is a 35-year-old Business traveller who has just started experiencing the good things in life. He has just risen in ranks and wants to live the corporate life. Citrus is a young, smart, stylish and vibrant brand to match his needs and his style quotient. We will also be fairly priced so that he can afford us. This segment of traveller is the one who travels the most and we hope to capture his interest as he moves into different cities. He is the one who will one day grow into a senior management role.

What is the USP of the hotel?
Citrus hotels are formally casual. You will not find people in ties and suits. In fact the staff at Citrus is encouraged to make conversation and involve themselves in guest-handling. On the design front we are not too heavy on decor. The colours are vibrant and simple straight lines are what we do. I would say the key factor that distinguishes Citrus from other hotel chains is the quality of food on offer and Service. We take great pride in both.
How does the hotel group appeal to the business traveller? Please enumerate the features and the facilities that cater to the business traveller.
All hotels are WI-fi enabled. All have fully equipped meeting rooms and state of the art conferencing facilities. Business traveller looks at Bed, Breakfast and Broadband and we do all three very well. Our breakfast spread is in comparison to what a luxury hotel will offer although in a much compact manner. We use 12 inches orthopaedic mattresses that take away the stress of a corporate traveller and we provide our guests with comp internet speed of up to 5 Mbps free of charge. We are now looking at providing two tiers bandwidth in which ultra-high speeds will be provided with a charge.
What is the strategy to stay ahead of the competition?
The strategy is fairly simple. We will be honest, take onus for our delivery failures and deliver perfection. In short we will build brand Loyalty to ensure repeat clientele. Our hotel in Pune commands a 30% repeat guest percentile. Our return and recommend scores are close to 100% across all units and locations. We firmly believe a happy guest will return and bring more with him.
What’s the hotel’s philosophy or business mantra?
The hotels business mantra starts from its employees. We take good care of them and ensure they enjoy coming to work. We do not hire from outside for supervisor and above cadres and hire only at grass root level. The newcomers are budded with the veterans and it is the veteran’s responsibility to ensure the new guy gels into the system. Happy employees create happy guests and that in itself is a great sales tool.
Is there a focus on the MICE segment? If yes, what are the plans?
Of course, every business hotel worth its salt needs to do that. We have state of the art banqueting facilities at our locations and adequate twin rooms to complement the hall usage. We have redesigned the ones that were lacking and added where we felt we were missing the opportunity. Discreet services, secretarial assistance, clockwork precision are what we ensure when the guests host their events with us.
What are the hotel’s tech-friendly features?
We believe technology is a great enabler and delights instantly. Comp Wi-Fi is only one. We are launching a mobile enabled website – connectivity on smart phones. We are working on using smart phones for check in, check out and billing. Even we are working on for electronic feedback, voicemail systems and many such things. Centralised inventory, outsourced data systems, centralised accounts and material management enable us to derive lot of cost and revenue benefits which we pass on to the guests.
Please tell us about the green initiatives the hotel has taken.
We use hydro pneumatic pumps to ensure that the water flow is purged with air and subsequently lesser water is used, we have automatic building management controls which help us in reducing costs and save energy. Recently we have tied up with wind energy consolidators to ensure we are green fuel enabled. Guest has the option of having their linen changed daily or on alternate days. Solar panels for water heating and using CNG for our boilers are some of the prominent features. Apart from that we also recycle the amenity bottles and use the stationary that is recycled.

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