Vikram Bakshi, Deputy Sales Manager, Oberoi, a graduate from Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development shared with us his experience as working in the sales team of the one of the most prestigious hotels franchise Oberoi Hotels. He had previously worked with some of the big names of the industry including the famous Marriott. In an exclusive interview with us, he told us what is required to be successful in sales and marketing and many other things.
Tell us about your educational background.
I did my schooling from Jodhpur, Rajasthan that`s my hometown. Post that I joined Oberoi Group. Oberoi Group has a training programme called Systematic Training and Educational Programme also known as STEP. This is a three-year hotel programme, where individual are picked up right after the school and they are sent to various hotels that Oberoi group has in India. In that programme there is two branch, one is Kitchen operation and the second is Hotel operation. I opted Hotel Operations and I was sent to the Trident Chennai, that is where I finished 3 years, post which I got through post graduation programme also run by the Oberoi group and it is also Asia`s number 1 Management Training Programme in terms of Hotel it is called Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development and the stream in which I was, was called GSM also known as Guest Service Management , the same has three different field when I went through it, it was GSM, KM also known as Kitchen Management, and there was HM also known as House Keeping Management. So I finished that and I joined Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra where I stayed there for a year as an assistant Manager at Front Office, Oberoi Amarvilas was a fantastic place it’s about 600 meters away from Taj Mahal. While I was at Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development in Guest and Service Management Programme, I had gone and trained at four different hotels of the country. I had gone to Wildflower Hall at Shimla, I had gone to the Udaivilas in Udaipur, then to Trident at Nariman Point in Mumbai, and finally Oberoi Grand Kolkata. So I stayed at Amarvilas for a year then I had left the company for about 4 months and I travelled almost half of the country and then came to Mumbai, at Mumbai I joined the Marriott as a part of the Sales and the Marketing team, so there was a switch from operation to sale, then after 1 year at Marriott I left it and went to Rajasthan. Then I have joined Oberoi group again as a Deputy Sales Manager.
After your school how you reached Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development. So how did you applied for that?
I applied for the STEP programme which is run by the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development. Every year from the month of February to March, Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development opens up application. So anybody can go on the website of the Oberoi Hotels, go to the career section of the website. On the career section of the website, you will find different sections. Go to the Join us section, in that section select the STEP programme if you are going in after your school. Download the form, fill the form and upload it again. Then you will get a call from the Oberoi Centre then they will call you up for the interview. So that’s a one way to do it, the other way is there is a facebook page of Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development. You can follow the page and keep getting the update from them, they also do open interviews, you just walk in with your documents and can apply there as well.
How should a student prepare for the entrance test of STEP Programme?
As far as graduation programme is concerned, student has just come out of school, so in order to apply for STEP programme, student has at least 50% marks in 12th class.And after that, there are a couple of things that they look at. They see where the interest of the child lies, is it kitchen, does it lies in front of the house, front of the house basically means the front office, food and beverage and housekeeping. They obviously look at spoken English, communication skill is very important, presentation skill how does a child present himself or herself and the other thing is of course General Knowledge, there is no boundation that the child should be from science background, art background, or economics background but the child has to be through with general knowledge and the current affairs, the reason behind this is for anybody to grasp things he has to be inquisitive and if somebody is inquisitive he/she has to know about what is happening around the world. So generally these are things which are required. So aptitude and attitude test is done then there is personal interview as well.
What kinds of question do they ask in the interview?
See in the personal interview the question could be anything like – why would a person like to join the hotel industry? Because hotel industry looks really glamorous from outside but isn’t same from inside, there is lot of hard work, there is lot of learning in there as well so they usually ask, why would somebody not join regular college and join this programme? They also see the general knowledge of the student, and where does a person see himself/herself and what would be the career goal of the student and what makes them feel that they are the right fit for the STEP, programme,
What has attracted you towards hospitality?
Basically it was two things, firstly hotels of course because I have said earlier they look glamorous and secondly my father owns hotels and resorts in Rajasthan, so I kind of understood what the industry was about and I think it gives you a chance to groom yourself, it’s a great lifestyle in hotel industry, it’s a very stylish lifestyle to be in because you eat the finest food, you get to taste the finest wine, you get to interact the finest people which is probably the most important thing.
Securing admission in the post graduate programme of the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development means a guaranteed job in Oberoi Hotels, how far does this statement hold true?
So in Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development, the postgraduate programme or the Management Training Programme, when you get selected, they select you for specifically the fact that they groom you according to company standard which is currently the highest standard in the industry, they groom you to become a manager or business owner in their own company that’s why they took you. The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development is a programme which does not incur any cost, you don’t pay the company or Oberoi Group, rather you get a monthly stipend from the company. Currently, they spend almost 27 Lakh per child over the course of 2 years to groom them and to train them. Once you reach Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development and you successfully complete the programme, you automatically get posted in one of the hotels.
You are a Deputy Sales Manager at Oberoi. What kind of work you undertake in your daily job?
So my daily job has a wide range of things to do, it involves keeping good relationships with partner companies with our customers all across. I think sales is one vertical which is the face of any hotel company because we go out and speak to the guests, we go out and connect with the company and corporate houses and we get them to believe us, trust us and trust our product. So it basically involves, business with clients and expanding the existing business. It is a very competitive industry, where everybody is just waiting to grasp the business of others, so in this kind of competitive environment, you have to maintain good relations with your clients and try to get more.
Can a regular graduate from IHM perform well in Sales Department?
About 30% – 35% of hotel sales people across the country are from hotel management background they either worked in operation before and switched or they graduated from Hotel School and then switched to sale. The other 60% are from MBA background, the remaining 10% are neither MBA nor Hotel graduate, they are just regular graduate who just happened to get into the sale from somewhere and landed up being in the hotel. So if somebody is a regular graduate from the IHM and if he/she wishes to work in the sales department and has the aptitude and attitude, then he/she can definitely work in this department.
Is there any course which can help a regular graduate of IHM to learn the complexities of the sales field?
In order to get the knowledge of the sales and marketing student can go for MBA course after they finish their hotel management course. This would give them the insight of this field and equip them with the necessary skill to excel in sales.
What is the tough part of your job?
There is a lot of tough things about my job because today everybody is price conscious, everybody is cost conscious. Currently, in sales the market is extremely demanding, it’s very competitive. New hotels are coming everyday, new inventory is coming up everyday which means the client or the customers has new option. It takes second for anybody to switch from one hotel to another, so we have to deal with these problems, so at the end of the day, it gets really burdensome.
What is your parting message to the students of Hotel Management?
Hotels seem to have really glamorous jobs but it also have a dark side to it. You will end up doing 15 to 16 hours of work a day but at the beginning you won’t to be getting enough money but if you continue to do it, then remember it is also of the highest paying job and it also has lots of perks in it. You will have the most stylish lifestyle that people try have, but for all this you have to work hard.
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