In my blog post entitled My Mumbai Masala, I promised a part 2 follow-up. It’s long overdue. I’ve been speaking about my experiences in Mumbai a lot recently so clearly it’s time.
The second and third time I went to Mumbai, I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel at Lake Powai. Far away from Mumbai’s urban core, It was a stunning property set in the midst of a lush green space overlooking the lake.
The right location inspires fitness. The property was ideal for walking. I was up just before sunset daily to walk in the cool of the day. This was followed by exercise in the fully equipped fitness centre. The staff was very helpful in fine-tuning your workout. The hotel was curved so the view from each and every room was spectacular.
On that trip, I asked the hotel duty manager for suggestions and, before I knew it, I was off on a taxi tour. We went to Bandra and stopped for photos outside the residence of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan.
Next, the driver arranged for me to tour a movie set. They were on break and it was a film with an Egyptian theme. Some crew members were from Toronto. I was invited to dine with the crew but I declined. I don’t believe in wearing out my welcome.
Sales and The Magic of Rapport
Next, it was off to the Saga Department Store where I learned some valuable lessons about sales and rapport. I wanted to buy some more toys to place on the table as energizers during my workshop. When I arrived at the store, the lady who greeted me asked if it was my first time there. When I replied yes, she said that they always liked to give first time shoppers a tour starting at the top. We got off the elevator in the jewelry department. I said “Oh no. I only want to buy toys.” The salesman said “Relax. Do you think anyone ever comes with the intention of buying?”. He invited me to sit and enjoy tea and biscuits. The staff brought me cases with the most lavish jewelry. He serenaded me. He asked me which ones I liked and I told him. Then he asked me to pick out my favourite. “How much would that have to cost for you to buy it?” I did not want to offend him with a low offer. He said “No offer is too small”. I replied “US$200.” So, he brought me cases of jewelry within my price range. He already knew my taste. I ended up buying a ruby ring.
Lesson Learned: Build rapport, find out the client’s tastes and price range and you’ll close more deals.
Mumbai Rennaissance Creates Magical Moments
The last time I went to Mumbai, it was during monsoon season. We landed at night and the air was clear due to the rain. It took a long time to get to the Rennaisance Hotel. I enjoyed my stay once again.
The cuisine was superb. At the time, there was an Indian restaurant upstairs which featured authentic local cuisine. The live band was word class. The musicians did not speak much English but, through a translator, I conveyed my absolute delight with their performance. I am sure you get the picture.
Of all aspects of my stay, it is impossible for me to come up with enough superlatives to describe the exceptional customer service standards. During both of my stays, I noticed that the staff went out of their way to attend to my every need. I felt like royalty. If I was carrying something, immediately, a member of staff would approach me, relieve me of my parcel, binders, or luggage and accompany me to my room, the training room, or the front door as required.
While I was setting up and throughout the workshop, I was offered beverages. If you asked for a glass of orange juice, they brought two. The staff checked in throughout the day. Before you could even think of it, the staff was in to draw the blinds to ensure that the meeting room remained cool and comfortable after the afternoon sun came through the windows.
Magical Moments with A National Treasure: Amitabh Bachchan
I had seen Amitabh Bachchan in movies and the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (You may recall that he won the Sahyog Star of the Millenium Award.)
On the last day of my workshop, the ladies arrived in beautiful saris as if they were going to a party. (I thought it was because they were going to miss me. ) I noticed something puzzling and I addressed it with the group.
“Up until today, everyone has been punctual. Today, the gentlemen are on time but the ladies are consistently late from tea breaks.” Amitabh Bachchan, who is a national treasure, was shooting a TV commercial at the hotel. The ladies were watching the shoot during their breaks and losing track of time.
A hotel manager took me on set to meet him. He was most gracious, humble, and accommodating. I thanked him for honouring me with an introduction. I then said “But you sir, are giving me unfair competition for the attention of these ladies. How can I compete with a national treasure?” We both laughed. I wish that I had taken my camera.
I shortened the presentations for the rest of the workshop and arranged for the ladies to do their practice exercises on couches not too far from the set. As soon as they were finished, they could watch the shoot. It was a valuable lesson in flexibility and keeping participants satisfied. Also, it was a reminder to always keep my eyes and ears open so that I can add magical moments to executive retreats, team building, and workshops.
Photo Credits: Justin Morgan (Flickr), Mumbai Renaissance