Anmol Zutshi, corporate head – Ashok Events Division, ITDC, has previously served as Resident Manager, The Ashok- the flagship property of ITDC and as General Manager, Hyderabad House, the official venue for hosting visiting Heads of Government and State by the Honourable Prime Minister of India. In Conversation with Akshay Nayak, he speaks about the transition in his leadership role from Ashok Hotels to ITDC’s youngest division Ashok Events
With an experience of 30 years in the hospitality industry under the helm of the Government, what were the challenges and opportunities that you faced throughout your career?
The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) has played a pivotal role in the creation and advancement of tourism infrastructure in India. I have been associated with the organisation for over three decades and it has been a unique and enriching experience. At ITDC, we were exposed to many facets of the hotel and hospitality industry, including VVIP services; and the opportunity to work in hotels outside Delhi gave us the platform for independent decision making, at a young age. The chance to work at The Ashok Hotel was like working in a mini-city with its large inventory of rooms, restaurants, convention and banqueting facilities.
The most challenging experience of my career was when I was posted as the general manager, Hyderabad House, the official venue for hosting visiting Heads of Government and Heads of State by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience as I was spearheading a team of highly skilled professionals and was able to successfully handle the visits of world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Former French President François Hollande, Former President of The USA Barack Obama, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and other dignitaries and official delegations.
There has never been any binding directive from the Government to use ITDC or the Ashok Hotel, and we have always competed with the private sector. For instance, to overcome the challenge of fall in business due to mushrooming of world-class restaurants in malls and other shopping areas, we went in for the PPP model. This created a lot of positive buzz in the first decade of the new century and a win-win model was created for future endeavours in the F&B space.
From ITDC’s Ashok Hotels division to the new assignment of Ashok Events, how has the transition been? What does your new role demand?
Ashok Events is the youngest division in the ITDC portfolio and represents its expertise and capabilities in holding mega events of National importance. Our core competence is in providing one stop solution as a Professional Conference Organizer for conferences, workshops and other National and International events.
As the Head of the Events Division, I am leading a team of highly motivated professionals, experienced in managing high profile and VVIP events of the various Ministries and PSUs. The transition from being part of the Hotels Division of ITDC to the Events Division was a smooth experience, owing to the excellent team of skilled colleagues, who are focused towards delivering the best services to our esteemed clientele. Further, the support of my seniors in providing guidance at crucial junctures also helped the transition from Hotels to Events.
Handling events of National importance, which events will you be catering to in the next fiscal?
Ashok Events is the designated agency for handling events on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism. In the upcoming months, we will be handling the next editions of the Paryatan Parv, Bharat Parv, ITM for the North East region, International Buddhist Conclave, National Tourism Awards, and many other important events. We also curate and cater events for various other ministries, which are graced by Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Prime Minister and other VVIP dignitaries.
Your views on maximising efficiency, training and developing more and more employees in event management and SOPs that you have set for high efficiency and minimum redundancy?
Event management requires ‘Attention to Detail’ and focus on pre, during and post-event activities along with detailed checklists. We are committed to delivering best in class services across all types of events, with an experienced, well trained and motivated workforce. I believe, on the job training is an important aspect of event management, and provides a good learning platform for the young talent in the industry. With the rapid industry evolution, being updated about the latest trends and infusion of new and younger employees is a key element in the profession.
What will be your future course of action at Ashok Events, while curating the many food bazaars, Bharat Parvs, Paryatan Parvs, etc., to promote Indian hospitality on a global scale?
We are constantly updating ourselves to keep pace with the wider industry to ensure the excellent customer experience. Our focus is on exploring opportunities and collaborations to take the successful concept of the Paryatan Parv or Bharat Parv abroad as per Government directives and showcasing the Exhibition Pavilions on behalf of Ministries at various venues in India and abroad. We have managed such pavilions at Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Stockholm, and Abu Dhabi in the recent past and look forward to promoting Indian hospitality on a larger scale.