We have spoken with Mr Vilash Khatri, the founder of Hospital Hub, the RM of Yellow Pagoda Hotel and an International Trainer on Life Skill at Quest International College, a man with over 25 years of experience in hospitality management, who talks to us a

Hospitality Begins at Home

With the advent of Visit Nepal 2020, every Nepali citizen must play a role in providing the best for its visitors. There are certain etiquettes that we all should know when we treat our guests, regardless of whether we are working in the hospitality industry. 

What do you think is the true essence of hospitality?
I believe that hospitality is a relationship: a relationship not only between living things but also between non-living things. Because eventually, we define hospitality as a service to our guests, and this service combined with a strong relation with them makes the experience more fruitful.

Let’s take for example that I am asked to sell a pack of sugar cubes. Firstly, I need to learn to love sugar, learn about its business, its shortcomings and feasibility, only then can I sell it in the market. I need to learn to build a relation with sugar before building relationships with my customers.

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding hospitality in Nepal. Could you tell us more about that?
Hospitality is a big subject, but the only thing that comes up when one hears hospitality is hotels. This is wrong. Hospitality starts right from when you are born: the love and affection you receive from your guardian; the values they instill the in you; the culture you grow up in; and what you are taught in your community and school all come under hospitality. Hospitality starts from home and is not just restricted to hotels, dining and guest service.

Could you give a few tips on hospitality etiquettes?
I believe the most basic and important etiquette would be discipline. Discipline is the key for giving good service.

How is the scope of the hospitality industry in Nepal?
Hospitality most certainly has a very good scope in Nepal. With regard to Visit Nepal 2020, I don’t think we are totally ready for it, but since Nepal is a blessed with the best I am sure we will do just fine. Our tourism industry is booming with so many remarkable hotels opening up across the country. 

However, in terms of hospitality education, there are only a few schools and colleges that provide the technical education that a hospitality student needs for a competitive edge in the field—these are students that we hire. I feel the rest are just for namesake, as they don’t teach technical education to hospitality students. It means hitting the core point of the subject through dazzling array of choices to students.

Now that homestays and bed and breakfasts are a thing, the hotel experience is no longer mundane. Guests come to bond better with the staff and people. What role can we as citizens play to facilitate their hotel experience in Nepal?
Well as the famous Sanskrit saying goes, ‘Atithi deva bhava,’ the guest is equivalent to God, always pre-plan before guests arrive, and don’t take guests as a burden and don’t just focus on monetary matters. The three pillars of guest service are open-mindedness, willingness and honesty. GOD, I define as Good Orderly Direction means we need to always show them the right path for better business.

You need to give your guests the value for their money. So from the moment they enter your doorsteps to the time they set-off, be sure to fulfill all their needs. Greet your guests with a smile, give them a warm welcome, and be attentive. Never ignore your guests, and always have a professional body language when you converse with your guests. Teamwork is equally important, which includes communication and chain of command. These are the tools to hike your business through guest experience. 

Hospitality starts from home, but that’s clearly lacking in the market. Many people still consider education in hospitality to be an easy way out. What would your advice be to parents wishing to start hospitality right from home?
To start building a good relationship and inculcating discipline at home, members of a family must first care for each other. Older individuals must first care for the younger ones. Parents shouldn’t expect that their children will always share their problems and express their needs with them. If parents see that your child has been acting different lately then they should be the first one to approach and initiate a conversation. This is a part of a hospitality.  

The three main pillars of hospitality are -- open-mindedness, willingness, and honesty. One fine day, if I see my 21-year-old son smoking with his friends, I should not just barge in a throw and tantrum. I need to learn to process that incident with an open mind. I need to accept that he’s 21, and he is doing so because of his social circle or peer pressure. When I go back I need to plan on confronting my son. I need to see who he responds best to—is it me, his mother, his teacher, or some other figure he looks up to—and then deal with the situation accordingly. This is open-mindedness.

With regard to willingness, if you observe that your child is not in a good mood after he got back from college, you need to be willing to talk to him. If s/he isn’t ready to share, then give him/her some time, but make sure that you tell him/her that you’re there for him/her, if s/he ever needs to. You need to create a comfort zone for your child.

Speaking of honesty, every parent wants to give the best to their children. But we can only give the best that we can. You need to be honest with what you can provide to your children and that they have limitations. So if you know that you can’t buy that Ducatti for your son, you must tell him that clearly rather than leading him on unnecessarily.

An additional point in hospitality that is equally important is ‘quality starts from me.’ If you want to start developing a good habit in the family then you must be the first to initiate. You want your kids to polish their shoes, but if you don’t polish your own shoe, then your children won’t reciprocate.