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Resort Opening In A Remote Location - (A Challenging Effort).
By NP Chandrashekhar
Tuesday, 14th October 2014
 

Opening of a resort requires special skills, knowledge, experience, wisdom, patience and perseverance and while appointing any senior position for a proposed resort, it is normal to ask a person with pre-opening experience as it is considered to be a unique experience.

It is easier to operate an existing resort while opening a new resort requires lot of efforts in terms of planning, organizing, creating a team, establishing and implementation of systems, policies and procedures and making the resort up and running successfully. It involves coordination and team effort.

Many factors are to be taken under consideration for inaugurating a resort, particularly in a remote location. The lack of doing so could ultimately lead to big challenges in its running in the future.

These are as follows:

  • Man-power & employee turnover
  • Logistics & Vendor Management
  • Transportation
  • Motivation & retention
  • Upkeep of the employee health
  • Setting standards
  • Safety and Security
  • Maintenance
  • Operational Costs
  • CSR

Man-power & employee turnover:

The real asset of any hospitality facility is its Human Resources. The Resort become lively only when it has the right persons doing the right job. Getting quality personnel for a remote location resort becomes a very difficult task. Younger generation who are more used to the city life refuse to come and work in a remote location. Many people join on a trial basis and leave the organization within a short duration making the operation suffer. The employee turnover becomes a difficult task to handle and costly too. Recruitment must be made with a systematic approach ensuring at the least a minimum period of stay for each personnel recruited. Employees must be made aware of the pros and cons of the remote location at the time of recruitment. Employee needs in terms of their career, living, lifestyle, ambitions etc. need to be understood well when the recruitment is made.

Logistics and Vendor Management:

To counter this issue, one has to understand the operating cycle very carefully and make a proper plan as nothing is available at a short notice. Many products may not be available in the nearby cities and even if it is available, none of the vendors would be willing to deliver goods to a remote location as it is not economical for them. Some of them may be willing to deliver with a minimum order quantity but that may not suit the resort, hence creating the logistic problems. This creates lot of pressure on the Purchasing activity. Resolving this issue often incurs extra costs, like additional transit stores, freezers, vehicles, fuel cost, drivers etc.

Transportation:

Transportation of men and material becomes challenging in a remote location. The resort may have to buy additional vehicles and hire additional drivers to handle movement of both men and material. Guest transportation needs to be handled carefully giving them all the comfort from receiving them at the airport until they reach the resort similarly when they go back. Other situations that would require an efficient transport system could include Medical emergencies, Employee transportation to nearby cities on rotation for a change and recreation. One may also come across urgent requirement of material to satisfy guests that will call for good and quick transportation. There are many such moments of truth making transportation a demanding issue.

Oman: Alila opening in spectacular Jabal Akhdar mountain region set for 2014

Motivation and Retention:

The resort is successful only when the guests are happy. To keep the guests satisfied the resort has to keep the employees happy. Keeping employee morale high is very important, especially in a remotely located work place. Living in a remote area is difficult due to various shortcomings of a normal life and it involves a compromise for every person. Opening of a hospitality facility in such a location must consider important factors that affect employees in a big way, such as, accommodation with all basic facilities, recreational facility, medical facility, shops, saloons, transportation etc. for their normal living. All these facilities must be in place much before the recruitment begins. If these facilities are not available, employees tend to become bored and get demoralized. This further leads to poor performance and later losing them ultimately making the operation suffer. If the resort is unable to retain the employees after giving them full training, it becomes a very expensive affair. Hence, motivation and retention is an issue that cannot be compromised.

Upkeep of the employee health:

Health is wealth! Employee health is crucial for the successful operation of the resort. Due to the remote location, the resort has to be prepared with proper clinics, nurses and doctors much before the employees are recruited. This needs to be done during the project stage itself. It is very important especially when people are recruited from different geographical locations. Employees may have adverse reactions till they adapt to the new place and surroundings. It is essential to provide medical attention to them immediately if health problem arise due to the location. Prompt action also gives them the confidence to stay back. If not, people tend to leave as the place is unsuitable for their living. The younger generation particularly does not compromise on this aspect as they can find a job elsewhere.

Setting Standards:

Consistency in operation is possible only when the operating standards are set. This further leads to the guest satisfaction and the success of the resort operation. Most of the chain hotels and resorts have their standards ready for implementation. However, some of them may not be suitable due to the remote location. Hence, this needs to be tailored depending on the various factors that affect such standards. To give an example, various ingredients may not be available at short notice and hence affecting the food and beverage standards. One needs to be prepared for the alternatives or choose those ingredients that are normally available in that location and implement them in the menu and standards accordingly. More importance must be given to the local produce creating a theme around those products. To give another example, Sea food restaurant is not possible in the mountainous region where the daily fresh fish is not available. Such issues need to be considered and addressed accordingly.

Safety and Security:

Most important factor of any hospitality facility is the safety and security of the guests and the staff. The resort needs to consider this very seriously, and must ensure all safety and security measures are met without fail such as, Fire-fighting Training, First aid and Para-medical training, Accident prevention etc. Being in a remote location, getting external help on time from experts is difficult or may not be possible. Such emergency situations may arise and hence becomes very important for a remotely located resorts to be self-reliant in these areas of expertise.

Maintenance:

A remote location resort must also have well trained professionals in the maintenance team. This will help in solving the routine problems with ease not depending on external assistance. All the vital and essential spares must be stocked in the resort that will help in resolving technical problems that may arise from time to time. Make classification of components/spares, Vital, Essential and Desirable (VED Analysis) analysis helps. The resort must train the personnel for both - the preventive and periodic maintenance.

Operational Costs:

Various aspects mentioned above involves additional costs. These needs to be factored-in while making budgets that enable the smooth running of the resort. These aspects cannot be compromised due to the non-availability of funds in the budget that ultimately affects the success of the resort. Hence, one needs to realize that the operational costs in a remote location is much higher than those in the cities.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): 

Last but not the least! In a remote location in any country, there exists a conservative community that do not easily cooperate with the new entity (Resort) as they may not find any direct benefits from such development. In order to get the required cooperation, some of the business benefits needs to be given to them so that co-existence is possible. Benefits such as, employment from the community, community development, building infrastructure, buying products from the community etc. must be offered to satisfy their needs. These things have bearing on the project cost and operational costs which are additional.

Silence and peace does not come without a price. People choose to come to remote resorts paying high prices for the peace and tranquility they get after a busy life in city. Having said this, Making of resort in a remote location is a big challenge and even more so in running it. However, the final verdict of success can be decided only by the guest!

Written by Chandrashekhar, Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman. Email: shekhar@alilahotels.com

About NP Chandrashekhar

Chandrashekhar P Iyer hails from the silicon valley of India, Bangalore. He is a Commerce Graduate and Pg. Diploma in Business Administration from Bangalore University. He worked in various industries such as Transportation, Market Research and manufacturing before moving on to Hospitality industry in the year 1993. Since then he was employed in senior positions by well-known hospitality groups such as, Six Senses, Marco Polo, Chelsea and ETA. He obtained Professional Certification titling CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator) from Educational Institute of American Hotel and Lodging Association in the year 2004. He is also a Fellow of Institute of Hospitality, UK.

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