The Loyalty Program…

Friday, May 20, 2016

“Sir – have you stayed at any other Shangri-La property in the past? That will help me add points from your current stay to your existing membership,” Robin offered…

I was checking in at the Makati Shangri-La, Manila, last Sunday… and like every other hotel that I had checked into in the past… and never cared about the rewards points that my business to the hotel would bring me… on this occasion too, I shook my head…

Robin looked at me… head to toe… literally falling over the reception counter in the process of doing so… and looked back at the information that he had about me on the Registration Card that he had pre-filled… all the information that my travel agent had provided at the time of booking… and everything Robin and Shangri-La were able to extract from Google owing to the tons of electronic dust that I leave through my Fursat Friday…

I may not be a celebrity… nor a SPATT (Special Attention) category that hotels normally put you in… like in all such cases when you have either given them shit loads of business… or you have given them assloads of pain in the wrong part of the anatomy, through an unrelenting demand on the hotel’s ‘service libido’ that it prides itself in… or on its nervous system, which is most perennially fragile to ‘pesty’ guests…

But I definitely know that the information that Robin had… qualified me as a high profile traveler… an inescapable hotel hopper… a pure-play cargo hold passenger in airlines… and who rents a Hertz Tuktuk upon landing in Bangkok… and a Bajaj Auto-rickshaw to go back home in Navi Mumbai…

Well… Mumbai for now, till the Navi Mumbai airport comes up in the next 30 years…

——————–

“It’s high time you retired these Sahara / Jet-lite / (now operated by Etihad) aircraft,” I said to Sahil…

Sahil was my cabin attendant in the Bangkok-Mumbai mid afternoon flight yesterday on my way back from Manila… and together we tried pulling out the food tray from the side of the seat…

Loyalty has its privileges… being a Jet Privilege member for years, saw to it that I was comfortably perched in 1A right at the front of the aircraft… just that, this was the same aircraft Jet Airways uses in the India domestic sectors… where 1A means you are elbowing your neighbour in Seat 1C…

However, loyalty could not help me pull the right strings… er… the food tray out of its hold… it had to be inhumanly extracted with a wrench… and then the rest of the flight was full of apologies that one lives with… and suddenly how you turn a darling of a SPATT for the entire cabin crew…

Conversations ensue… it is always good witnessing the pride, profusion and pomp with which the hospitality industry continuously keeps striving to make you feel the King… and Sahil wasn’t far behind…

After all… Loyalty must have an albatross of Royalty in it…    

Sahil is a Hotel School graduate from Anjuman-i-Islam, Mumbai… has been all over the Emirates with the finest in the hospitality world… Ritz-Carlton… Hyatt Worldwide… Marriott International… before landing into… er… flying into his current job with Jet Airways…

Sahil wanted to be a Sommelier… an interest that he had to bury because he was moved into HR at the Ritz-Carlton… against his volition… but because he was good at wines…

“I was a Trainer… I hated it… I had to read a lot… Books… Standard Operating Procedures… and most tiringly, People… can you imagine, Sir, I had to read people…!”

As matter of fact-ly as I could, I told Sahil… I am a Trainer… and I have been one for many years now and how I value the profession… how I have invested in it for a lifetime… and how meaningful it has been… how noble it is to be able to teach someone what you know… how fulfilling it is when someone spots you in a mall and runs over to you with reverence and thanks you for all that you have taught them…

“Loyalty has its Rewards, Sahil… I now lead organisation wide efforts in this part of Human Resources with my current employer… a loyalty towards my profession…!”

Sahil almost fell off his feet… and onto mine… he was apologetic – profusely again… albeit, this time it wasn’t for the un-pullable food tray… but for having denigrated the Training function…

I assured him that I would not feel bad for what he thought about Training… or the experience that he had had… and that we all make choices in life that we best like… and what we can best do…

I shared with Sahil that I wasn’t born in HR… I started off in Hotel Operations myself and then in Financial Services Operations… till I found my passion in the Training, Development space…

——————–

“So, did you get to be a Sommelier at all then?” I asked Sahil… after about an hour in the Service Area just behind the cockpit… when I caught up with him looking for a cup of coffee for myself…

Sahil got thoughtful…

“I have been thinking after our conversation, Mr. Kodukula… I am toying with 2 options in my life right now… I have a job with Qatar Airways… very similar to what I am doing but with more money and the base location will be Doha… and another, where, with all the money that I have saved, I want to study to be a Master Sommelier at the International Culinary Centre, New York City… what do you suggest?”

“You are not quitting your current job because the food tray is not in its place – I hope” I winked at Sahil…

We had a hearty laugh…

“I have made up my mind, Sir… I want to be loyal to my Passion…” were Sahil’s parting words, when he waved me a Good Bye at the door when we landed in Mumbai…

———————

Meanwhile… earlier this week… Sunday… Robin at the Shangri-La reception looked back at me with intrigue… till he could not resist it any longer…

“Sir, I will enrol you in the Shangri-La loyalty program… I am sure you will like it when you gain the rewards for your stay with us…”

“I would love that, Robin… and you will be the 37th Hotel Rewards program that I shall pledge my loyalty to…” I said with a smile…

While I count my blessings… and my rewards points…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Advertisements

One thought on “The Loyalty Program…

  1. Wow Ravi, I could almost see Sahil beaming with confidence and Robin’s puzzled expressions! Keep inspiring…cheers!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s