By Madiha Mehmood –
Our progress is the country’s progress, the country’s progress is our progress —Haseeb A. Gardezi CEO, Hotel One
Haseeb A. Gardezi joined Avari Hotel, Lahore, as an internee after graduating as a Certified Hotel Professional from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, USA. He has worked with national and international hospitality corporations and is associated with the Hashoo Group in various senior capacities including DGM Pearl Continental, Lahore. He has managed golf courses and country clubs, too. Gardezi is responsible for Nationwide Operations, driving efficiencies across the Hotel One chain. Pique speaks to Hasseb Gardezi, CEO, Hotel One.
What is the philosophy behind Hotel One?
Five years ago, Mr Murtaza Hashwani introduced the idea of providing reasonable accommodation with valuable facilities. Hotel One is a limited service hotel in Pakistan. None of the five stars provide as many facilities.
Hotel One is a unique concept, we provide an excellent opportunity to clientele with the slogan: Our expertise, your investment, an excellent mix. Our aim is to be present in every city of Pakistan and provide the desired standard of hospitality, care and comfort.
What is the strength of the Pakistani hotel industry?
Our hotel industry is among the best. We serve guests with passion — hospitality is our nation’s forte. We love to serve.
How would you see your competitors?
Every entity in the hospitality services is our competitor. We are moving towards collaboration through competition. There is a general manager forum, where we discuss our problems, issues and share experiences. This is how competition makes it a healthy market. We are a franchise management, as we are part of the Hashoo Group, our mother company is one of the leading companies in the hospitality industry and so we cater to remote areas.
What are your views on the current situation in the country?
Our media is creating a lot of confusion among the people by showing exaggerated stories and negative images all the time. In spite of the poor law and order situation, social and economic instability, I am very hopeful for Pakistan.
How would you gauge the competencies in the hotel industry?
Hospitality is a very unique system. To gauge success and competency, there are numerous criteria to gauge; if we want to celebrate success collectively, then we must collectively overcome failure as well.
What are the pressures of expectations like?
The quality that is expected from us, being part of Hashoo Group and being under the umbrella of PC, is very high. Our brand forces us to maintain a benchmark of quality and service. We have to give a percentage of the services, revenue, and human resource development to our group. We have quality, revenue and brand standard evaluation, profit and loss audit every month which increases our competency.
The load shedding factor for us is the biggest challenge nowadays. So we have to cope with it. But every loss is repairable if we are successful in maintaining quality standards. We have a multitasking workforce. Instead of hiring too many people, we hire less.
What has been the biggest challenge for you in your career?
Consistency is the biggest challenge. You reinvent yourself every day. What we have done wrong, what is right etc. How can we add more strength, and reduce one weakness the next day. Our progress is the country’s progress, and ultimately, the country’s progress is ours. In spite of profits going down, we are opening more and more branches. Hotel One, over the last four years has doubled its growth. Minimum three and maximum five more properties are planned this year. This means five more employment opportunities for the young and old.
How can the government help the hotel industry?
Beside other things, the 26 per cent tax on room service is very disappointing. This leads to tax theft in small industries. Hotels and restaurants should not be burdened further as they have always been paying taxes; entertainment tax is not right — it must be reduced.
Moreover, the government must emphasize on tourism in Pakistan and convince the world how beautiful Pakistan is. This will fetch business to the hotel industry and so many other industries. We must not be shy of presenting and inviting foreigners to Pakistan. The Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan must realize that we are very much behind other Asian countries.
Who else can play a role in promoting Pakistan to the world?
The media must play a positive role in the development of tourism and entertainment industry. Pakistan must not be portrayed as warring arena. Hotel industry is the face of Pakistan and the media voice of the nation, so it must not resort to sensationalism.
How has the mushroom growth of hotels affected the hospitality industry?
It has not. There are two categories of hotels — the serious-minded hoteliers who do not cater to intercity travellers. Others are actually catering to the D markets in the cities. Commercial guest houses are not a threat to us in any way.
The writer is a PR consultant based in Lahore