After originally starting out as a chartered accountant, Debdyuti Dasgupta has picked up almost twenty years’ experience in the areas of financial planning, fund management, accounting, statutory compliance, auditing, and budgeting. He began his career as a financial controller at the Royal Palm Hotel in Tanzania before moving on to take a number of roles with Movenpick Hotels in the Middle East, until he finally arrived in Bangkok as a financial controller.

However, there is more to life than finance, and Debdyuti has now brought his talents to a new position as General Manager at Courtyard By Marriott Bangkok, where he has demonstrated that a good understanding of the accounts can be a great foundation for delivering great hospitality.

How has your financial background helped you in running a hotel?

Ten years back, when I was a Director of Finance, I never considered the possibility of  changing my career path towards hotel operation and administration. Now I realize that it was the right decision to become a General Manager while having a strong  background in finance and having been a Director of Finance in the hospitality industry for 18 years. As a DOF, however, I was never confined to my desk as I was always curious to know about the hotel operation and the activities on the floor, which drew my interest towards hotel operations. The biggest advantage of having a finance  background is having the business acumen to quickly evaluate the financial impact of a business strategy. At the end of the day, we as hoteliers work towards creating a superior guest experience, being service minded so that our guests become loyal to us and are more likely to return. This cycle naturally produces value to the business and its brand, and gives valuable returns upon our owner’s investment. Having a finance background helped me at every step to evaluate this process and take better decisions towards value creation both for our guests and our owners.

What's the most important element a hotel should have at this current moment?

With the COVID pandemic, the entire landscape of the hospitality industry has changed. The way in which we run a hotel has changed. The one who adapts to change faster, will be the fittest to survive and  succeed in the long term. International travel will be back but with different expectations. Social distancing and contactless service  are some of the common phases recently being used in our industry. Ironically these phases are apparently impersonal but as long as we are in the hospitality industry, I believe that personalized service and engagement with our guests will remain a key element in bringing back guest confidence and trust. We must maintain the new normal protocols, but we should be critical thinkers and find ways in which we can deliver  personalized services and maintain guest engagement. That is the most important element every hotelier must re-think in order to be successful.

How do you motivate your team during this trying time?

I believe in participative management and I am of the opinion that every associate, no matter their position in the hierarchy, can contribute to the organization in their own way. For this purpose, keeping the associate constantly engaged in the business process, even in this trying time, helps in finding solutions, and it also promotes a sense of belonging. At home, in our personal life, we face day-to-day challenges but all of us eventually learn to tackle those challenges because we feel that this is where we belong and it is our own life or our own home. If every associate in our organization can think of their workplace in the same manner, like this is where they belong, then many hardships will feel easier to tackle. At Marriott, one of our core values is to put people first, and I simply try to promote a culture of family, taking care, and belonging within my team so that they don’t feel left out or isolated in difficult times. Rather, they embrace the situation as if it was their personal life.

What's the skill you think hoteliers need in order to work effectively?

One thing is evident, businesses have  moved towards digital channels in recent days. Travelers are more inclined to book a hotel digitally either through the hotel website or through the OTAs. Hence e-commerce has become even more important today as a business tool and area to explore. Hoteliers should develop their skills and knowledge more towards understanding the dynamics of the digital channels and how effectively they can influence the e-channel to generate greater awareness. This segment is the highest yielding as well as being more cost effective. Therefore we should sharpen our knowledge in knowing the tools and mechanisms to optimize this channel to generate demand and redirect our customers towards our own brand website instead of third party and conventional booking channels.

What's your advice for someone looking to become a hotelier?

Every day in a hotel is a new day, a new challenge, and new excitement. It keeps evolving and that’s what makes it so interesting. The conventional notion was that to become a hotelier you had to go to a hotel school to acquire the skills to work in a hotel. In modern times this has become less and less relevant. You can come from any field. As long as you are passionate in creating extraordinary guest experiences and love being in a service industry, you can be a successful hotelier no matter which background you come from. For the young aspirants and the fresh graduates I will highly recommend looking at the Marriott Voyage Program, which is an accelerated learning process to develop themselves for hotel leadership roles.