Indian Culture in Hospitality
Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Apoorva Gandhi, VP, Multicultural Affairs, Marriott International: It’s great to have you. I understand that aspects of the Indian culture are gaining popularity in the hospitality industry.
Can you tell us about that?
First, I want to thank everyone for joining us. I want to thank the NetIP team for inviting me to come and speak. I love this organization.
I applaud all of you for really taking on this important task of keeping our culture vibrant and providing great professional development for all of the members and others. I think it’s a really important thing. Kudos to all of you.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Hotels
We are seeing a lot of demand and interest regarding Indian culture and Indian events at our hotels.
This starts off with probably the most fun thing, which are Indian weddings. We are seeing such great demand from our properties that want to learn as much as they can to help deliver the best and most auspicious wedding that they can.
I think back to my wedding. We had 700 people at our wedding. It was huge. There is a reason why I’m bald, trying to plan that thing.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Wedding Revenue
It’s a great source of business for us. It’s also a great way for us to continue to communicate the fact that we welcome everyone in our hotels. We welcome folks from all walks of life.
We’re dedicated toward making sure that, whether you’re coming to us for a leisure trip, a business trip or a grand Indian wedding, we will treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Cultural Competence
More importantly, we will do so with cultural competence. We want to make sure that we know all the different steps of an Indian wedding.
We know the differences between North Indian food and South Indian food, whether it’s a Gujarati style wedding or a Punjabi wedding.
We want to make sure that our sales team and folks on site know. We have multiple events.
They should be prepared that they will need to have a fire. There might be a horse or an elephant delivering the groom.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Team Building
We really spend a lot of time immersing our team in the culture. It’s a great piece of business.
When we talk with our catering and sales associates, they love Indian weddings probably the most out of any of the events that they do. They find them to be the most vibrant and fun.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Theme Days
In fact, we do this thing called India Culture Days.
Myself and a member of my team present to teams of catering leaders. We take them through the ABCs of the Indian culture in terms of the country, demographics and some of our approaches to life.
Then we go on a field trip. Depending on what city we’re in, we’ll go to the Little India section. We’ll have an Indian lunch. The chef there will talk to them about the food and how they prepare it. They will show them vegetarian dishes versus non-vegetarian.
Also, we’ll go to a sari shop. Folks will try on saris and different outfits.
I live in Washington, DC. The Gaylord National Harbor Hotel does a lot of Indian weddings.
Their team happens to be all ladies. They all bought saris. They said that, when it came time for the wedding, they wanted to be dressed in saris as a way of making a bond with the customers.
The customers loved it. They loved it because they felt like they were part of it. They were absolutely gorgeous.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: All Cultures
Our Marriott team is really proud of this opportunity. We have to continue to understand, whether it’s Indian weddings, quinceanera celebrations or bar mitzvahs, all of these different events are really important to our business as we’re seeing the changing demographics of the United States.
We have to understand that these events are new opportunities for us to build different revenue streams that are going to become the major revenue streams.
If we don’t get that and understand it, our competition will.
Indian Culture in Hospitality: Opportunity
This is a huge opportunity for Indians in particular. It’s something that we’re really excited about. It’s not just in the big cities in the United States.
We’re now seeing destination Indian weddings. We’ve been getting requests from the Caribbean and Latin America.
We just did a big webinar with our JW Marriott Cancun team. They wanted to get ahead of the game with Indian weddings.
Many folks are opting to do them as a getaway. They have a beautiful location. It’s really exciting to see.
Have you seen an increase in awareness of Indian culture in hospitality? Tell us what you’ve noticed in the comments section below.
The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Apoorva Gandhi
The entire interview transcript is at: Apoorva Gandhi NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – The Intersection of Indian Culture and Hospitality Industry
Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show