With more than a century of history behind it, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, is more than a hotel. It’s an eclectic architectural marvel offering majestic views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India. Known colloquially as The Taj, this significant landmark is embedded in the history of Mumbai. Since opening its doors in 1903, this legendary hotel has hosted prominent figures from the world over. Today, it has more than 500 rooms and is a popular must-see location on many people’s bucket lists.
A property this storied has seen every twist and turn the industry has offered, but two AAHOA Lifetime Members recently got the privilege of working with The Taj’s management team to implement some adjustments to front-desk, housekeeping, and restaurant processes.
OPERATION: TAJ MAHAL IMPROVEMENT
This past Spring, AAHOA Lifetime Members Rick Patel and Jai Patel traveled to Mumbai and booked two weeks at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, staying at the renowned hotel for the first time.
During their two-week stay, the Patels took in every detail, including the timeless architecture, impressive history, grand design and colors, lavish furniture, welcoming locals, awestruck tourists, and so much more.
As hoteliers with two-plus decades of industry experience, the Patels couldn’t help but notice how The Taj ran its housekeeping, front desk service, operations, and management. During the visit, though, they were quite surprised to find operational gaps, despite The Taj’s rating as a five-star luxury hotel.
“There were things that they were doing well. But I did notice a few areas that could be improved,” Jai Patel said. “Some of the tiles in the room and the bathroom needed replacing. Some tiles had cracks, and the glass doors needed wiping down. I also saw pink on the grout, and all hoteliers know that’s bacteria. Much of this could’ve been solved with extra attention to detail and fine-tuning the housekeeping process.”
Leaning into his decades-long hotel ownership experience, Rick Patel noticed operational management issues at the property.
“There were too many layers of management, which is a big issue. For example, the front desk would have a front-desk assistant manager, general manager, executive manager, and senior executive manager,” Rick Patel explained. “There were about four to five layers of management for each department, creating a communication problem and taking away from the goal of serving the hotel guests and taking care of the hotel.”
The Patels immediately saw the opportunity to help, so this hotel, which means so much to India, and travelers worldwide, could continue to deliver unforgettable experiences.
HEARING THE FEEDBACK LOUD AND CLEAR
During the trip, the Patels found an opportunity to take their observations and feedback to The Taj staff.
“We met one of the night managers at the front desk one night, and we sat down with him in the lobby for more than an hour and a half and discussed what was right and what needed improvement,” Rick Patel shared. “The night manager listened and took his time with us.”
The Taj’s executive team heard the feedback loud and clear and invited the Patels to a board meeting with the housekeeping executive manager and front-desk manager.
The feedback was well-received, and the executive team invited the Patels to lead an employee training session before the couple returned to the U.S. The couple was honored to use the last few days at the legendary property to equip and empower The Taj staff.
EQUIPPING AND EMPOWERING
The employee training session with The Taj’s management, restaurant, housekeeping, and front-desk teams was only supposed to last 30 minutes.
With so much ground to cover, the 30-minute training lasted nearly two hours.
“We enjoyed it,” Rick Patel said. “A lot of the employees asked a lot of questions. They learned a lot about hotel management, front desk, housekeeping, and all aspects of running a hotel business. We also held a Q&A session at the end of the training. The employees opened up and became like family to us.”
The training showcased the couple’s generosity and willingness to help the industry thrive in the U.S. and around the world.
With the training completed, the Patels offered to share their expertise with The Taj’s team members again in the future and returned home, ready to get back to the day-to-day business of operating their own hotels.