Mr. Sam K Philip

Mr.  Sam K Philip, General Manager, TRIVIK HOTELS & RESORTS is one of the vibrant face of hospitality industry in South India have more than two decade of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry’s sales, marketing and operations side.  Now he overlooks Trivik Chikmagalur, a luxury hill station resort in CHIKMAGALUR – THE LAND OF INDIAN COFFEE. He shares his experience   with editorial team of Tourism India. From the excerpts

  1. When did you start off your career in the hospitality industry and how did you come to choose this line of work?

I started my hospitality career in the year 1996, in fact in my growing days I could see my Godfather who started Joecees catering services at Tiruvalla in Kerala, who was so involved and loving the food business. My mother was also a part of the same venture during the initial days of Joecees as a helping hand. So probably seeing catering events and been part of the rush mode during those childhood days of mine somewhere my interest started growing in the service sector and when I was given a option of what to choose by my parents, I choose hospitality and I am glad that I did because I love what I do now after all the years of learning,  love to see a smile on a guest’s face that shows recognition what I have done.

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the hospitality industry?

I was born and bought up in Hyderabad, spent my education days in Andhra Pradesh until my parents decided to shift to Kerala as a permanent base, been the only son I choose to be with them, started my career in 1996 as a Front Office assistant at Abad Plaza Cochin after my Hotel Management graduation, spent few years with Joecees to understand the catering field better as it was a better platform for me to understand Food and services, always wanted to grow well so stepped into Sales & Marketing to understand the version of branding and selling, was with Gokulam Park inn Kochi ( Part of Sarovar Park Plaza Hotels) then with Muthoot Cardamom County, Thekkady in Kerala as Business Development Manager until I got the best opportunity with CGH Earth Hotels to manage their unit in Lakshwadeep which was called Bangaram Island Resort.

I lived, learnt and delivered hotel operations there as it was an island resort and island resort operations are never easy, later was transferred to Coconut lagoon, Kumarakom. Moved back to Muthoot Leisure & Hospitality as it was known then as rejoined them as Corporate General Manager which was a big challenge as I was looking into both Revenue and operations later to be known as Raxa Collective. I trained myself to handle both Sales / Marketing and Hotel Operations and Pre- opening. Trivik as a brand came by and I took up, did the Pre-opening for the resort in Chikmagalur, glad to mention that it is the best now in Chikmagalur.

  • What is the biggest challenge as a General Manager?

Different roles that a General Manager plays because few take up running brands and few do pre-openings but the biggest challenge is to put in your learning’s, values and have the Entire team following the same with the vision that the particular brand has. A General Manager also has the challenge of supporting the Local community in various ways through social responsibility programmes, Local employment, empowerment of women and educating the team on the destination, various practices and experiences that we do that gets translated well to the guest. Most important is trying to maintain a lean organization with optimization of resources to achieve the goal. The present position that, I am in now has big responsibilities right from pre-opening the resort since it’s a luxury project spread in 38 acres of coffee plantations, creating a TEAM, building the brand for better business, guest experiences, executing the best of the intangibles, making TRIVIK the best brand in Chikmagalur locally which have been successful and making it no. 01 on Trip advisor with the support of my Team and my Directors.

  • What do you like the most about the industry?

The industry we are in as the word describes precisely HOSPITALITY, everyday is a new situation, new guests, it’s a perfect mix of tangibles and intangibles, it gives us an opportunity as a individual to interact with staff at different levels, to motivate them, to guide them, as much as we give to guests the same needs to be given to staff but at a very disciplined manner. Also meeting  guests from various platforms and states and countries, responding to their needs at the same time showcasing our abilities which gives me utmost happiness to see a guest go back with fond memories and come back is a recognition of the work done. Hard work and focus pays well in the hospitality sector and that is what I like the most.

  • To what strategies do you attribute your success?

No Strategies as such but yes definitely focused on what I want and should be. I have a clear plan, to be in the place where I am now which is the highest peak in Karnataka, in song with nature and its beauty it is not easy for many. Have spent two years with the brand TRIVIK, spent most of the time in the resort trying to understand what the guest and staff want, kept thinking about how to build the brand stronger in the Local Market – Chikmagalur. Hats off to my investors as well who have shown the courage and will power to conceive the idea into reality and giving us the opportunity to build the brand. Have always believed in leading by example and for that I had to be focused and work hard irrespective of the position I hold.

  • In your opinion, what are the skills required for a professional in the hospitality industry, especially when it comes to your position?

Everybody is blessed with many skills and all are talented in their own ways but when it comes to a position he or she needs to have through knowledge of the job department wise, analytical skills, ability to communicate effectively to both Guests and staff, should be focused and determined to achieve the goal set and most important to lead by example and be a good Leader.

  • Do you feel that tourism in Karnataka is on the right track? What are your suggestions to improve tourism growth in Karnataka, especially in the present scenario?

Tourism in Karnataka has a long way to go. Karnataka boasts about its Heritage, temples, wildlife and hill stations which are yet to be marketed in the right direction. Karnataka as a state and the many destinations in it has the potential to increase its potential with the support of the government, as a state they should be aggressive and visible in all the travel platforms. We do see a lot of backpackers and last minute local travelers but yet to see good flourish of clients / guests across the nation and globe. Chikmagalur is known for its coffee and is a beautiful destination by itself but even today not many know about its potential and the luxury brands in the destination. Karnataka’s presence and also out of the box marketing strategies have to be implemented to make it a popular state for tourists both domestic and inbound.

  • You have a sound knowledge about the operations and marketing side both in Kerala & Karnataka? How you compare this two states.

Well Thank you, but I will say two different worlds!! Kerala as a state has a good mix of top brands and investors with classic products which in return forms a good association of people who want Kerala as a Destination to grow well with regard to tourism and opportunities are in line for staff as competition is high in each district. The investors take the front line in Kerala to promote as they are the main stake holders and as long as the destination does well they do well. In Karnataka it’s the opposite, I mean there are good hotel brands like the Taj, Orange county, Serai, windflower who have been in for long and very few private investors like now TRIVIK and few other small time investors, the destination grows only when its spoken loud by the tourism forum of the respective state and the stakeholders.

  •  You have vast experience to manage the properties in Hill stations. How you compare Thekkady, Munnar and Wayanad with Chikmanglore?

I would like to mention that Chikmagalur is still in its growing days though it has great potential. It has not been marketed well as a destination to sustain unlike Thekkady, Munnar or Waynad. But am sure Chikmagalur will be known better as we as stakeholders along with others are trying to showcase Chikmagalur strongly as a destination that has the highest peak in Karnataka, Muthodi Tiger Reserve, temples such as Bellur, Hallabedu and waterfalls that entice the eyes. Its only matter of time.

  1.  Your family and their support to reach this position?

My wife Nisha and me are blessed with two children, Sneha and Philip.  Nisha works for ASTEN REALTORS as Chief of Marketing & Strategy based in Cochin, my mother lives with them in cochin. My family has been ever supportive and always motivates me to do better, they always keep telling me that I have to be known as the best which helps me focus better and  as my wife looks into the various responsibilities in her day to day life as a working woman, a mother and a daughter.

  1. A word for aspirants/new entrants in the hospitality industry

Many leave it but Hard work and patience is the key to success, You should know your job well, train well and learn!! Rome was not built in a day likewise careers was not built in a day, work with a lot of passion and love, give respect and take respect, not many are gifted by GOD to be original in their expressions and practices.

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