From The Telegraph Newspaper, Calcutta

March 19, 2014

Warm welcome


Didhiti Chopra, a student of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, writes on on learning ethics and creativity at Vivanta by Taj President

I got the opportunity to intern with Vivanta by Taj President, a hotel run by the Taj Group of hotels in Mumbai, courtesy my institute, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, which is a part of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka. The internship lasted for six months (December 2012 to June 2013). I got the opportunity to work at both the operational as well as ancillary ends (travel, concierge and so on). I learnt to respect the ethics of the company as well as how to groom myself.

The hospitality sector, as we know, functions 24x7 throughout the year; this requires employees to work on different shifts. I had the opportunity to work in all the operational departments. In the food and beverage (F&B) service, where my shift used to begin as early as 7am, the tasks for the day would require me to help the captains during breakfast by laying the covers at the restaurant, taking orders, servicing and clearing the tables. When helping for lunch at 1pm, I was required to lay the cutlery and crockery, serve the tables and wait at them. I was also required to help in the back rooms.

Housekeeping was tedious but quite enjoyable. As my shift used to begin early, I was assigned to attend a certain number of rooms along with a housemaid to service them. After servicing the rooms, I learnt how the housekeeping department communicated and co-ordinated with other operational departments. While working in food and beverage production — popularly known as the kitchen — I had to assist the Sous-Chef de Cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen), the second-in-command and assistant of the Chef de Cuisine. The basics of cutting and chopping were part of the job. Front office, the nerve centre of the hotel, was an exciting area. Interacting with guests of different cultures, regions and nationalities gave me the opportunity to overcome my inhibitions and get to know the guests better.

The internship taught me how to follow ethics and be creative too — not only in the method of completing a task but also in making a guest feel special. After all, the hospitality industry is all about creating a memorable experience for every guest. While performing the tasks, one needs to be attentive and spontaneous. During training I noticed that one must have the presence of mind to handle any critical situation anytime.

As a student, I had no idea how a hotel functions until I got to know things first hand at Vivanta by Taj President. The internship was a perfect platform for a person transitioning from college life to the real world. I was in awe when I observed the levels of perfection and excellence in the hospitality industry. It is not enough to be effective, you must be efficient too. It was also an opportunity to appreciate the effort put in by each employee to keep the hotel running. I had the impression that a front office job was a cushy one but in reality you need to work doubly hard as it is the face of the hotel. I also learnt that there is more flexibility of interaction between superiors and subordinates than what we were taught in college. And hardworking employees do get some autonomy in their tasks. You must develop a positive attitude because you have to deal with guests of various types. Handling them with patience sharpens people skills.

I was quite overjoyed when I was offered a job as a trainee at Vivanta after the internship period. After completing my bachelor's degree, I will join the hotel. I hope I will be a skilled professional and bring a smile to the faces of customers.

A day in the life of a trainee hotel professional

7 am: Report for shift and attend morning briefing

7.15am to 11am: Work in the assigned section of the restaurant during breakfast. Take orders, clear tables and lay fresh cutlery and crockery

11am to 12 pm: Clear the breakfast buffet and tables. Make sure that the housekeeping department wipes down the chairs and windows. Lay fresh linen and cutlery and crockery

12.15pm to 12.45pm: Lunch break

12.50pm to 2.50pm: Assist the captain in the restaurant to take orders for lunch. Help in dispensing food from the kitchen to the respective side stations. Clear tables and lay fresh covers

3pm to 3.45pm: Help wipe crockery and cutlery in the back area or help do themis-en-place (meaning keep everything ready) in the bar, for example mint leaves and cherries for cocktails and mocktails

3.50pm to 4pm: Tea break

4.15pm to 5pm: Make the CCGS (cutlery crockery glassware stock) report and hand it over to the restaurant manager

5.15pm: Head home

As told to Avijit Chatterjee