When in Goa, Saurabh Khanna, the name, and the person need no introduction. His extremely warm personality & social presence at most events in Goa, and his love for sports & physical fitness have all made him a part of the larger circle and most people know him. On a professional front, he is the GM of The Park Hotel and a very popular one indeed. But let’s try and know the man a little more, so here is Saurabh Khanna unfiltered.
Tell us about your early days.
I was born in Muzaffarpur which is a town famous for lychees. After a few years there I moved out to study in Nainital and Delhi. Being in a hostel, I was very active in sports and that probably led me to be a little disciplined in life too!!
I was always an all-rounder doing well in both academics and sports.
How did you choose hospitality as a line, was it intentional or happened by chance?
Since my childhood, I wanted to be an Air Force Pilot. However, destiny had some other plans as I didn’t receive my SSC interview letter on time and missed the interview date. Coincidentally the Hotel Management exam was also on the same date for which I had appeared as one of my senior friends was doing hotel management. When I got through the choice of my institute – IHM Mumbai, I decided to join the course.
How has living in Goa been for you, was it easy or did you face any challenges initially?
Goa has been very good to me. When I moved here a senior hotelier had advised me that the first 2 years in Goa are going to be very difficult but once you complete 2 seasons then you wouldn’t like to move out of Goa and that’s exactly what has happened.
It was initially more difficult for the family as we had moved with a 6-month-old baby but once the family settled down this has been home.
What do you think is your greatest strength and your biggest weakness?
I feel my greatest strength is my ability to stay calm and composed most times and sometimes even smile when things are difficult.
My biggest weakness might be that I trust people a lot and sometimes I get taken for granted due to that.
As a team leader, how do you cope with bad business days and keep your team motivated?
I play a lot of sports and follow those principles in my work and personal life too. There will be bad days, but you cannot let them affect your life. Sometimes people will make mistakes and sometimes situations may be against a person but as a leader, it is our responsibility to nurture them by focusing on the good and sieving the bad. And the next day always must start as a new day.
What are the key USPs of The Park as a hotel and how have you nurtured the one top tourist destination in India? Its culture, beaches, the old architecture etc?
Our location and the chic contemporary design are our key USPs. Being right on the beach we have a stunning view of the sea and the sunset. Also being a small boutique property the level of personalization that we can offer and create is far higher compared to a huge resort.
How do you think Goa’s tourism business is different from other parts of the country?
Goa is. make it a great place to explore. It was always known for its nightlife and now with the variety of restaurants that have opened, it has also become the culinary capital of India. The casinos also help in bringing a section of the tourists here.
Which other hotels apart from The Park do you personally appreciate?
I often go out for a staycation with my family, and I like a lot of hotels in Goa. There are some great branded hotels and some outstanding stand-alone properties in Goa which have helped make Goa the tourist spot it is.
What events/activities are you planning for the season to keep The Park always buzzing with people?
The Park Hotels has always been known for its events and activities and we strive to offer our guests some good entertainment. We do have live music on most days of the week and a DJ on weekends. Our Sunday Brunch is very popular with the locals and the live singing, the ambience, beach views and food and drinks along with the pool make it a perfect day out for the family.
How much do you think social media and influencers help in spreading the word for businesses these days?
Social media has become one of the most important pillars of marketing these days and is very necessary for all businesses. The right influencers can help in enhancing the brand value of a product/place and it is important for the business to ensure that they prove authenticity to the buzz.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I hope to have a bigger role in managing a cluster of hotels and a larger team.