Saturday, September 12, 2009

6th Site Visit: ITC Mughal, India.

10th September 2009

“Green” has become a fad amongst many hotel chains but learning about the ITC Mughal approach has been a refreshing change. Their journey began more than 10 years ago and they are now at a stage where they are innovating ways to cascade their impact not only across its workforce, but to their suppliers and vendors. Their initiative cuts across both environmental and social programmes and there is a strong management system in place that allows for engagement of staff, as well as, innovations from the “shop floor” to be adopted by the management. There is also a good deal of sharing and benchmarking within the ITC group (i.e., inter-hotels) and between ITC business units (e.g., food industry vs hotel industry).

There are a number of good environmental initiatives (e.g., energy conservation, waste management) and the team has brought them down to each unit of the hotel. Figures are tracked and units are empowered to find new innovations or work processes that can improve their targets. Such an approach has led to improvements in waste management in housekeeping (e.g., segregation at source) or seemingly complicated laundry procedures that maximize loads or the screening of all items to be washed and grading them for light to heavy washing. There are numerous other examples but the important point is that the team has reached a maturity that allows them to not only develop new methods of doing things (or where justified, new investments) and to continually improve.

One of the other features of ITC is the people and clearly they are doing the right thing in this dimension too, hence the numerous best employee awards. There is a genuine hospitality and care that comes across from all the staff and from the interviews it was clear that many of them see this more than just a job. Having an attrition rate of less than 1% annually with the average age of staff at 46, it is clear that they value working with the company.

Finally, whilst the location has complex social-political challenges which exasperate environmental concerns, the team has also been trying to find ways to work beyond their hotel. This has been in the form of engaging Government officials, training for tourism service providers (outside of their employment) or training and mentoring their many local suppliers to adopt some of their green practices (greening of their supply chain). Addressing this dimension will be a challenge and it will be interesting to see if the team begins to address them in the same zeal that has made their internal programmes a success.

Watch our video slide show or view the pictures here:

Site Report By: Reza Azmi, Leong Siok Hui and Emran.

Special note: ITC Mughal is one of the finalists for the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards (Category: Large Tourism Operator). For more v-blogs on Responsible Tourism Awards 2009, please visit us on YouTube.

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