Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

Originally, my internship was supposed to go through mid-December, but for various reasons, my last day was Friday, October 24th. Overall it was a great experience. The work was very interesting and I was able to witness, if not take part in, the crucial processes in running a 5-star super deluxe luxury hotel like the ITC Maurya.

I was lucky to have wonderful mentors in every department, but most especially in the Sales and Marketing Department. While I enjoyed each place, I have to say that I enjoyed Sales the most. It was the department I felt the most immersed in as it was also where I spent the most time. Stepping out each day to go on sales calls all over Delhi and the surrounding areas was great exposure to how the Sales department "does business". I am very grateful to everyone for the knowledge they imparted, the time they took to speak with me, and the way they made me feel a part of the team.

I learned a lot about the hospitality industry during my 16 weeks at the Maurya, but I also learned a lot about myself as a person, and about India. Some days were very hard and frustrating and some days were very exciting and satisfying. Sometimes I just wanted to scream, sometimes I just had to laugh, and sometimes I just never wanted to leave.

I read in a guide book before getting here that India gives you something that no other place can. This is very true. There are definitely things I will miss and definitely things that I won't. While I'm looking forward to coming home, I'm also dreading having to leave. But some day, I will need to come back to this breathtaking, infuriating, incredible and mind-boggling place; this place that can give you that feeling, that can put that smile on your face and make you shake your head in wonder like only India can.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Condoleeza Rice recently stayed at the Maurya during her trip to India. She was in town to work on the US-India nuclear deal. Wow.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recent Events

As some of you may be aware, there has been some terrorist activity in Delhi over the last few weeks. There have been bombings on two separate occasions and a shoot-out between police and suspected terrorists on another occasion. While several of the bombs went off in places that I have been to before, none of them were near where I live. The city is on alert at this time as markets and shopping centers will become more crowded leading up to the major Hindu festival of Diwali on October 28th, but the other interns and I in the city are not overly concerned. We will just be cautious about going to places that are very crowded and continue to be aware of our surroundings.
It's been interesting to see how this recent activity has affected the hotel. I was expecting that we would see a large decrease in travel and many cancellations as people, especially foreigners, would not want to travel to Delhi for some time. But so far the bombings seem to have had little impact on the Maurya. Conferences are going along as planned with new queries regularly, and already much of October is at a high occupancy rate. There seem to be a couple of reasons for this. One, the Maurya is basically a corporate hotel catering to business travelers and embassy guests, although we do also have some leisure travelers. This seems to somewhat insulate us from the impact of the bombings as it's logical that leisure travelers would be more affected by and concerned with terrorism than would business travelers. And two, the Maurya has made safety and security a top priority. I won't get into specifics of awards, etc., as I don't want to misrepresent the hotel. As I mentioned, we get many travelers from embassies and are located right in the Diplomatic Enclave of New Delhi where most of the embassies and high commissions are located. As this would naturally put us in an advantageous position to receive high-profile and heads of state visits from all over the world, tight security in the hotel is a must. This reputation of being a safe and secure hotel has also cushioned us from any decline in business and has perhaps even increased it as people who are still traveling to Delhi would now prefer to stay in a hotel that is more secure.
I've also been witness to how India and the Maurya are approaching the recent financial crisis. In several of the morning meetings, the team would briefly discuss the many changes in ownership of major companies and how this could affect their accounts. The hotel does not seem to be struggling with it, though, as so far high-end travel is relatively unaffected, although I am hearing more about how companies are concerned about cost-cutting. However, this seems to be a lead-in to rate negotiations, not a reason to choose a lower-end hotel. I am sure the approach and attitude towards the crisis here is far different from the one at home, and I am interested to compare once I get back.

Friday, September 26, 2008


After nearly three months in India and four weeks in the Sales and Marketing department, I finally understand what all my college professors and administrators have been telling me for three years now: Networking is important!
One of the most important aspects of sales is networking; networking through your current clients to meet other people in the company who could provide more business or leads, networking through guests in the hotel who may know of other guests coming into Delhi and will be looking for a place to stay, networking through colleagues and friends about new companies or upcoming events in the city, etc. Being able to successfully network is an important aspect of being successful in sales.
At the same time, networking among other AIESECers and friends has lead to many opportunities for me personally. For instance, when my computer recently went kaput, a friend of a friend worked for an IT company and was able to get my computer fixed asap for a good price and little money. I later gave his contact info to a lady at work whose computer was also not working. I am constantly meeting people who can tell me about good restaurants, where to buy random things I need, what hotels to stay at during my upcoming trip around India and what trains to take. I've never been so well-connected as I am here in India, and I can tell you it makes many things a lot easier when I know I have a lot of people from whom I can ask advice.

Monday, August 18, 2008


After two weeks in Reservations, I moved up to Towers reception. The Maurya is split into three blocks of rooms. First is the main block which contains the standard category of rooms as well as the most expensive rooms in the hotel like the presidential suites. The next block is Towers which is the block of rooms above the standard blcck and is described as a "Hotel within a Hotel". The third block is ITC One which is the premier category of rooms.
I've worked at Towers reception for the past two weeks and have two weeks left. Yulya, my roommate and colleague from Russia, is working in ITC One reception. We work different shifts each week so that at the end of four weeks we will have seen the reception desk at all 24 hours of the day. The first week we worked 12-9 pm. Last week we worked 3pm-12am. This week we are working overnight from 9:30pm to 7:30am. The last week we will work 7:30am to 4:30pm.
I am nervous about working overnight this week because, to me, there is no worse feeling than being tired and not being able to go to sleep. Normally I could just go to a vending machine and get a soda but they don't have vending machines in the hotel and the employee cafeteria closes at 2:15am. It will be a long week, but I think it will be interesting to work overnight for the first time. Since the hotel has many international guests, and the international flights come in at night India time, the busiest time for check-ins is late evening and night. The morning is busy with check-outs and preparing for the day's work. But I am told late night/early morning is generally very quiet.
Its often interesting for me to work in Towers because this block is where many guests of the US Embassy stay. Also, we have several flight crews who stay with us, one of which is the American Airlines flight crew from Chicago to Delhi. People are often very surprised to see me and hear my American accent. The other night I met a pilot from American Airlines whose daughters both go to UWEC, so he gave me his youngest daughter's contact info since she will be looking for roommates in December when I come home. Its been a great medium for me to tell people about AIESEC since many guests are curious about how I came to work in a hotel in India.
While many things are still hard, like where to buy black stockings for work or get chocolate syrup so I can take my malaria medication, other things are so much easier, like getting around the city without a car (just jump in an autorickshaw and go 5 kilometers for $1 US) or going shopping for clothes (I can buy 4 outfits for about $30 US, clothes that would cost that much for just one piece in the States). While Delhi is a city of 15 million people, Pizza Hut still closes at 11:30 and most markets close at 9 pm, but at the same time the market nearby will deliver food to my door and even McDonalds delivers! So many things are so completely different, it makes me question why everything is the way it is. But I am getting used to this city of contrasts and constant surprises!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I've posted some pictures of Delhi, where I am living, and sites from my recent trip to Amritsar. The site is Link is also available through my profile. Under "Contributors", click on "Megan Humphreys", then "My Web Page".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Namaste. Room Reservations. My name is Megan. How may I assist you?

My first department is Reservations. Since the Maurya is such a large hotel, reservations and front office are two separate departments. There is a staff of about 10 people whose job it is just to answer the phones and make reservations. There is also one person who all she does is check the email!
It is interesting for me as a native english speaker to hear how people interact on the phones. For instance, there is a script we have to follow and in the script there are such phrases as "How may I assist you?" and "I am delighted to inform you...". It is so formal! When I start answering phones, I will feel really strange speaking like that. But ITC (the parent company of the hotel) is a large corporation that oversees many hotels, so for them it is necessary to have those standards to keep things uniform throughout the chain.
Something else I have to adjust to is that I have to wear a uniform! Everyone, from the kitchen staff on up to supervisors have uniforms! Only when you hit upper management are you allowed to wear your own business wear (or sarees for the ladies who so choose) or if you work in a behind the scenes department like Human Resources. My uniform is a pant suit but the jacket is button up to the neck (no lapels), and then there is bow tie-like piece of cloth that snaps around the neck and tucks into the top of the jacket to give the illusion of a shirt underneath, with a matching piece of cloth to tuck into the breast pocket. I also have to wear my hair pulled back into a bun with a little hair net over the bun. Woah! With the uniform and the cafeteria food (with requisite metal lunch trays) I really feel like I'm back in school! Apparently I will be allowed to wear my own business dress once I move into marketing as I won't have daily contact with guests anymore.
And while Europeans might think Americans work too hard, I say Indians work too hard! The normal work week in India is 6 days, Mon-Sat. And its 9-hr days instead of 8. So if I arrive at 10 in the morning (which is the schedule I'm on right now) I stay until 7 at night. But luckily for me, the head of HR realizes this is also a cultural experience for me, not just a job, so he's very graciously allowed me to work only a 5-day week. That way I can go on weekend trips with the other AIESECers. Phew!
FYI: Namaste is the traditional Indian greeting. You greet someone by putting your hands palms together in front of your chest and bow your head slightly (as if in prayer) and say "Namaste".