Monday, May 30, 2016

Trending in Food Service

Food service industry trends are changing, primary reasons being Globalization...Exposure...Millennials. While the focus always will be towards quality food, restaurants are also looking at selling an experience to their guest. Restaurants operating in metros and mini-metros are uplifting the predictable but expected restaurant business. While great food & beverage, ambience, pricing and courteous staff are essential factors, people always look for something new and diverse that a restaurant can offer.

Thematic restaurants are quite popular with guest and they do attract a lot of customers. People, of course will discuss and speak of food, but what they also would campaign for would the theme or the décor. Listed are few restaurants that are based on themes, while many may look incredible to dine at, there would be some you wish you didn’t know.

Ice Bar in Delhi is made of ice that includes the chairs and tables too. Guests are provided with coats and gloves. The restaurant maintains a temperature of -10. Kaidi kitchen in Kolkatta and Chennai is based on a jail theme and the staffs are dressed as prisoners and jailers. The Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai prices their drinks according to the popularity; Café Dalal Street in New Delhi too has the same service rules for beverages.

Some more to the list of interestingly themed restaurants

        1) 70 mm, Hyderabad; for Bollywood enthusiasts
        2) Bhaijaanz, Mumbai; definitely for Salman Khan fans
        3)  Taste of Darkness, Hyderabad; exactly as the name suggests
        4) Gufha, Bengaluru; themed like a natural cave
        5) Ciclo Café, Chennai; is India's first Cycling Café
        6) Natures Toilet Café, Ahmedabad; probably India's first-ever toilet themed cafe 
        7) Tihar Food Court, New Delhi; South Asia’s largest prison complex. Nothing unusual, except   that the employee, like most of his colleagues, would be a convict

Another trend that is catching up is “Food on the Move”. The concept is based on mobile cafes and restaurants. The set up could be on luxury buses, coaches or vans. While the concept has gained a lot of popularity in the West, making it commercially viable in India would lot depend on development of the infrastructure and streamlining of traffic?  Hijackk in Ahmedabad is a mobile bus restaurant. They have a fixed menu which they change frequently and the customers are taken around for a hour and half ride in Ahmedabad.

Latest innovation that’s really interesting is Edible Cutlery; imagine if the cutlery used could be edible. Hyderabad based Bakeys Food Pvt. Ltd has recently launched edible cutlery. They are made from edible flours; flavors can be added according to customers’ preference. They are governed by regulations laid by Food Safety & Standards Act. Whether restaurants will introduce them into their daily operations and would guest love it only time would tell.

To achieve success in any business format, one has to be different with pragmatic business sense. While it’s good to be fervent on innovation, restaurateurs should be cautious to not compromise on the basics like food quality, hygiene and friendly staff.

-Ms. Bindu Menon
 Sr. Faculty, INLEAD 

The BREXIT saga

For people wondering what does BREXIT mean, It is actually an abbreviation of “British Exit” and refers to the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union. The country will hold a referendum on its EU membership on June 23, 2016.

“I’d be devastated if Brexit happened. I hope sense prevails in EU vote”, says Richard Branson, founder Virgin group, to Bloomberg. Many celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, popular British exports to USA’s Hollywood have come out openly to oppose Brexit. There are many who are coming out in support of Brexit like British Indian MP from the Conservative Party, Priti Patel, who believes that Britain as a part of EU had been restrictive in their hiring strategy from outside EU.

So what is the history behind European Union and the subsequent talks of Britain exiting it altogether? Let's go down the memory lane…

European Union, popularly known as EU, is an economic-political union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe, and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. EU’s basic ethos was to make “war unthinkable  and materially impossible”. In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty or the Treaty on European Union, signed in Netherlands, helped create the European Union.

Since its signing of the EU Treaty and even before that when Britain had joined the European Economic Commission in 1973, there have always been debates within the country about the utility of being a part of the EU. Both the Labour and the Conservatives (the 2 main political parties in Britain) have often debated within and amongst themselves on the continued membership of EU.

The ongoing brouhaha

The current Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, from the Conservative party had promised before the 2015 elections that, if brought back to power would facilitate a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. However Cameron after his negotiations in favour of Britain, with Donald Tusk, the European Council President, did speak for remaining in EU or “Britain remains” (Bremain). Some of these concessions include enhanced recognition of the Great Britain pound, and "red card" system that would allow a bloc of EU parliaments to block legislation from Brussels.

The British public are fairly evenly split and about half of Conservative party MPs are in favour of the Brexit.

What happens if there’s Brexit

Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney, says that Brexit would be the biggest domestic risk to financial stability. Then again there are the opposers who believe that Brussel’s bureaucracy is a drag on British economy. The flavor of the world is such that economies want to step away from solidarity and community, according to The bolts of the union are loosening and crisis of governance is emerging. A Brexit would mean the European Union may also look at disintegration.

- Ms. Monica Mor,

  Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, May 23, 2016

Career Seminar for Nursing Administration

Nursing administration is a profile that is in huge demand in the Healthcare segment and there are many opportunities to train prospects who wish to specialize in nursing administration. INLEAD organized the career seminar for providing information to such prospects and candidates of nursing administration who are keen in pursuing this career.

The seminar was graced with the presence of Ms. Sonymol K., Nurse Supervisor and Head T&D, Dr. Madhvendra Singh, Director, Infiniti Connect and Ms. Khushboo Singh, Sr. VP, INLEAD.

A Nurse Administrator has immense responsibilities within a hospice. A nurse administrator creates work schedules, gives performance reviews, and develops work policies. Other job duties include keeping up established ethical and legal standards for job performance, attending administrative personnel meetings, and developing new employee training. Most of the work of a nurse administrator is done in an office and not on the care floor, so an administrator has little or no direct contact with patients. A nurse administrator may work in a hospital, nursing home, private doctor's office, home health care organization, or urgent care facility.

This was the kind of understanding provided by the panelists during the career seminar, which will definitely enthuse the participants to mull about and work on their advanced education.

Speaking about the seminar, Ms. Sonymol K. said, "I was very impressed with the turnout and am very happy that there is so much interest in the profile of Nursing administration."

Friday, May 20, 2016

The tough choice to make

There are a plethora of accommodation options that are available nowadays to guests. They can choose from luxury hotels to business hotels or budget hotels or serviced residences.  Since the options are many, guests are often left with the big decision of making a choice. While the decision might depend on various factors, like budget, location, occasion etc., there’s one particular option that is slowly but sturdily climbing the popularity charts- the serviced residences.

Serviced residences or apartments caters to people looking for both short as well as long term accommodation. As their equivalent hotels these too are equipped with all the hotel-like amenities. They stereotypically provide guest with fully furnished space along with cooking utensils. In comparison to hotels they are less expensive; benefits include more space and privacy, ease when travelling with a family, and can save money with cooking one's own meals.  They are mostly spruced with all the modern comforts one can find in a hotel.

Let’s take a look at how this segment started to gain popularity. The conception probably first started in the US. It all started with the progression of business travel and is now gaining repute in India’s hospitality industry. According to the Global Serviced Apartment Report, there’s an 80%increse in the number of serviced apartment taking it to a figure of 75000. In the 1990’s there was a lot of international travel that was happening due to economic liberalization, new set ups and joint ventures. Initially they stayed at hotels, because the concept of apartment hotels did not exist. Later when these travel started to become more frequent involving longer duration of stay, they chose to stay at any of the swelling serviced apartments.

The initial growth of serviced apartments though was driven by international business travelers or expats, the domestic business travelers have also backed in strengthening the same. Serviced apartments are gaining popularity in the urban market like Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune. These segments are also gaining popularity with the leisure segments of travelers, as they too feel that stay at five-star hotels for longer period can get very expensive. With serviced apartments one gets the advantage of reasonably priced accommodation, more space, privacy and comfort of home cooking your own food. Some of these apartments come with high end housekeeping services and laundry.

While the Indian market has lot of stand-alone serviced apartments, many hotels are also launching new properties that would be launched as serviced apartments. They may be studio rooms or may have anywhere between one to a three bedroom. Serviced apartments that are managed and operated by hotel, the guest can enjoy all the facilities that a hotel would offer them; which include bed & breakfast, household assistance, gym, conference room and banqueting space. In simpler terms, they offer a home away from home with tremendous value for money.

Serviced apartments are here to stay and gain popularity. As of now they have major presence in metros and mini metros. In future their popularity can be extended to tier II and tier III cities such as Kanpur, Panipat, Kohlapur, Nasik etc. in many cities many such facilities are being built to meet the needs of both business and leisure travelers.

- Ms. Bindu Menon
  Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, May 16, 2016

Career Seminar with the Hilton Worldwide

INLEAD recently hosted the Hilton Hotels Worldwide on its campus for a Career Seminar. The PACE workshop was aimed at making the students aware about the various career opportunities they can explore with the esteemed organization.  Hilton Hotels Worldwide, a renowned brand in the hospitality sector, is expanding its wings in a big way and is coming up with many career opportunities.

Established in the year 1919 in, Texas, U.S.A., Hilton has thirteen different   brands in its kitty. Mr Amit, Head HR, Hilton Hotels Worldwide, spoke at length about the different job opportunities which the Hilton Worldwide is providing to young candidates who are willing to join the hotel industry. He reiterated that, those who have the zeal and interest should become a part of Hilton family. He went to state that they have two different programs to cater for the young recruits. First is Management Trainee program of two years and the other is General Manager training program in which the recruits less than one year can apply. If the recruit passes he/she can become General Manager in next five years in Hilton and will get international exposure.

Mr Amit and his team answered every related question of students like recruitment process of the hotel, their marketing strategies, growth etc. and all questions were answered diligently. The session was overall productive and students kept coming up with questions. Students also got to know many new things about one of the top notch brands of hotel industry.

Prateek Bhatt, April 2016, INBM: “The talk was very relevant for all of us who have just taken admission at INLEAD and are therefore exploring all possible avenues of growth.”

Akshay Bhatnagar, October 2015, INHM: “It was a session which proved to very beneficial to me, since I am from the hospitality sector. I really look forward to joining this company.”

Friday, May 13, 2016

Who put the Action in Movies?

Action movies are becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation and that too all across the globe. People are seemingly in love with action adventure, action comedy, action horror etc. Film industries all around have been entertaining people a lot through their movies, and the genre of Action has been doing good business for the longest time.   

What is an Action movie?

Action movies are those in which characters are involved in a series of challenges such as physical feats, extended fight scene, violence and frantic chases. Action movies represent a character’s struggle against incredible odds as well as risky stunts.

The Great Train Robbery- the first action movie 
At present, CGI (computer generated imagery) have made production of action movies cheaper and direction much easier. Even visual effects (or VFX) can be worked upon with availability of software. In the early decades of the 20th century, all of the above required real professionals, whom we know as stuntmen. CGI have even changed the actions into something that maybe unrealistic and highly unbelievable, yet shown in cinemas.

A brief history of action movies.

“The Great Train Robbery” was the first action movie said some historian people. During 1920’s and 1930’s action movies became the norm. The 1940’s and 1950’s saw “Action” in a new form through war and cowboy movies.

The long-running success of the James Bond series (1960’s) introduced a staple of modern day action films.

Categories within Action movies.

Action movies have been further expended into different categories such as adventure, comedy, horror and spy etc.

1.      Action Adventure- examples are as Indiana Jones or Mad Max etc.
2.      Action Comedy- Dumb and Dumber, Big Momma’s House, Bad Boys and Rush Hour etc.
3.      Action Horror- Gore, Demons, Vampire, Zombies.
4.      Disaster films- Independence Day, San Andreas, Volcano, The Day After Tomorrow.

Martial arts, Spy, Action thriller, Science-fiction are some other categories of the action movies. Now the Action movies are loaded with fiction and superhero films with many Marvel comics character’s being used in big budget films.

Sylvester Stallone (Rambo), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator), Bruce Willis(Die Another Day), Will Smith(Independence Day), Vin Diesel(Fast & Furious), Angelina Jolie(Lara Croft), Scarlett Johansson(Black Widow), and Jennifer Lawrence(Hunger Games & X Men) are well known actors worldwide. They all have given big action movies to Hollywood.

All time highest grossing movie was the Avatar (2009) with a domestic gross of $760.5 million as per 2015. This was soon after in 2015 overtaken by The Fast and the Furious 7.

As you read this blog, there are many big action thriller movies coming in Hollywood as well as in the Bollywood industry to make money & for your entertainment. An important disclaimer in Action movies for audience is that “The actions or drama you see are totally done under the eyes of professionals and experts and to not try any of those actions at home, school or any other place as they can harm you as well your dear ones. Just enjoy and entertain yourself with the Action movies and be safe.” Amen to the genre of Action movies!

- Jeevan Thakur
  Student, INLEAD                                                                                                                                                                      

Monday, May 9, 2016

Personalizing Guest Experience

To be perceived as a brand or hotel that personalizes guest experience, are hotels giving into the rising guest demand? Is this the only way to be omnipresent and to be popular choice among guests? With new technology, mobile apps and hotels in all brands and sizes evolving every day, the industry will have to be innovative and go all-out to give guests incredible experience to be competitive.
An online Personal Experiences study shows that 74% of users loose interest when they don’t find anything that can interest them or have their preference’s identified. Most of guest looks for things that can catch their fancy, read their minds and also be able to deliver the same. They expect a hotel to match up to their individual needs and not offer something that is readily available or can be bought off the shelf. So how can hotels personalize guest experience?

Property Management Systems can bring about enterprise level automation to any segment of the industry with the unlimited data storage. Information from reservation or during registration can be stored to be retrieved at a later time should they book again. Cloud data enables the information to be shared at other hotels within the chain leading to enhanced guest experience. Hotels today spend a lot of time and effort in creating guest history and updating guests personal information, studying guest behavior, mannerism along with their likes and dislikes.

In a survey done by Yahoo, 78% of guests desired for some kind of a personalization. The ways how a hotel can achieve this would be by:

1) Personalized emails
2) Courtesy calls in room
3) Post departure thank you emails
4) Online guest feed back
5) Guest designed services
6) Favorite newspaper/magazine addressed with name
7) Suggesting spa reservation
8) In-room check-in
9) Special services and amenities for women

However what could be a treat to one person could be inconvenience to the others. For e.g. an invitation for a dinner at the hotels premium restaurant to a family travelling with young children might not be interesting, but for a couple on their honeymoon this could be alluring.
Hotels are focusing on delivering a more intimate experience….taking it to the next level, while the physical structure of the room would remain the same, what changes is the services and amenities during the stay.

The “Mass” tactic to providing the same product to the entire guest cannot be a successful long term plan. Guest today is demanding and looks for products that define individual happiness. Streamlining the delivery mechanism around personalization will eventually lead to sustainability.

-Ms. Bindu Menon, Sr.Faculty, INLEAD

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Emerging Era of ‘App-cruitment’

Recruiting online in today’s times has not remained restricted to the various job portals anymore. Gone are the days when the recruiters would largely depend on the online portals (Naukri, Monster, Shine etc. to name a few in India) to filter candidates. The era of social media made LinkedIn and Facebook, emerge as considerably powerful tools to post job requisitions and invite candidature, owing to their widespread accessibility. However, when the world has become a shrinking web-space, how far can we go in the race for innovation? The answer to this question is ‘App-cruitment’ – recruiting talents using various Social Networking Apps.

Recently, Fetch, a Dentsu owned mobile marketing agency, hired an intern through a location-based dating app, Tinder. Yes! You read it correct! The same Tinder which many a youth today uses to hunt for a date. The agency created a Tinder profile in January to find matches in the New York City. Potential candidates were asked for their best pick-up lines. Fetch matched with 270 potential candidates and further shaved down to 5 personal interviews, finally hiring 22-year old Sam Weidt as an intern, rather being called a ‘Tintern’. In another breakthrough story, Droga5, a New York based global advertising agency looked for interns via an Instagram challenge. JWT India’s Bodhisatwa Dasgupta did the same using WhatsApp. Every year he would get calls from collegians from institutes like St. Xavier’s Mumbai, however due to geographical restrictions and lack of self-awareness among the aspirants, he was left with rookies who weren’t even sure about making a career in advertising. So Dasgupta turned to WhatsApp and gave 6 candidates a test fit for the digital age: create a meme – thereby not only judging their creativity but how fast they could deliver. The story doesn’t end there. JPMorgan, one of the world’s largest financial organizations is using Snapchat and its geo-filters to find and hire fresh talents. (Excerpts from Brand Equity: The Economic Times)

The reaction to this newly adopted ‘Swipe right’ methodology is mixed, across the HR fraternity. While some feel that these methods may appear ‘cool’ and hip for today’s app-crazy generation, they think it’s purely for branding and advertising purposes that such strategies are adopted. Moreover, they feel that such recruitments are ideal for the entry-level personnel and for start-ups only, thereby being impractical for recruiting mid-level managers or technical and finance professionals. On the other hand, many companies feel a need to think out of the box by trying to push the limits of innovative hiring. The question that remains: Are Tinder and Snapchat the answer?

- Sumit Chakravarty
   Faculty, INLEAD

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Celebrity Endorsement Tamasha

When we use the term Brand Ambassador, what all does it connote?

According to an article posted on “A brand ambassador is someone who promotes a brand and its products to their network with the objective of increasing brand awareness and driving sales.” In management classes a Brand Ambassador is often cited to be one who is representative of corporate identity in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics. More often than not historically a brand ambassador was typically a celebrity or someone with a good amount of name recognition who was paid for their efforts. Celebrities and other well-known personalities are still employed as brand ambassadors.

If we look within our marketing stories, there has been representation of products like food and beauty products by celebrities through the ages. Lux beauty soap has been using faces of Hindi Cinema actresses like Leela Chitnis in 1941, Hema Malini in 1980s, all the way till Katrina Kaif in recent years. While beauty products were the most sought after categories to be endorsed by celebrities, of late there have been many products and services like banks, insurance, real estate, cars, et al that have also jumped in the celebrity game.
At one point of time any brand that wanted some recognition wanted to be represented by a celebrity, would do a fitment test to ascertain the value of the association. For instance Dabur being a brand since 1884 has attributes like reliability and credibility associated with their brand. They then went on to hire Amitabh Bachhan - who reflected similar personality traits in his box office performances -  as the face of Dabur.
The scenario these days..
.. has however changed and there are many media agencies that work as mediators between the celebrity and the company. The fitment analysis is done, but a lot more is about movie and sports stars who are looking at getting a certain number of endorsements as also certain product and service category endorsement in their kitty. According to a study published in Vikalpa, Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has been the most featured celebrity with 57 ads, followed by actors Amitabh Bachhan and Shah Rukh Khan with 46 and 44 ads respectively. And the products could be as common place as hair oil, toothpaste or exclusive like luxury watches and condominiums.
Issues that have arisen..
Recently, poor product quality has left many disgruntled customers unhappy with the celebrity endorsers. MS Dhoni due to the barrage of social media trolls against his endorsement of Amrapali projects, had to eventually resign as its brand ambassador. Amrapali apparently had a history of lateness in real estate project delivery. In an earlier instance, there were PILs filed against Madhuri Dixit and Amitabh Bachhan during the Maggi controversy as they were the brand ambassadors for Maggi.
Then again there have been cases where the company has removed celebrities as their brand ambassador due to a misdemeanor, as was the case of golfer, Tiger Woods who was removed as the endorser for Accenture after his infidelity episode became a raging controversy.
The case to watch out for now is with respect to Salman Khan who has been appointed India’s brand ambassador for Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro. There is a nationwide debate that has ensued on the credibility of his ambassadorship. The nation’s technically divided 50-50 for and against his selection. We all await the outcome of the debate.
- Ms. Monica Mor, Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

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