Club Mahindra -- The Serious Business Of Fun Rovers
In a concept akin to that implemented by leading holiday companies abroad, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts has employed teams of people called the Fun Rovers at its properties in Munnar, Goa, Shimla and Mussoorie.
``The Fun Rovers are expected to create an informal atmosphere at the resorts and help the guests make the most of their vacations. Fun Rovers is one of the ways we help ensure memorable holidays for our customers,'' says Mahindra Hotels and Resorts chairman Arun Nanda.
While the concept was introduced by the company three years ago when it launched its first hotel in Munnar, starting this year the company plans to develop the concept into one of its prime.
``We are looking at developing the concept as part of a host of initiatives which are in line with the company's mission to become a premier holiday company in India in the next five years with trend setting holiday experiences that offer holidays with comeback values for customers,''says Nanda.
On the back of innovative concepts such as these and a slew of marketing packages to be launched from time to time, the company hopes to increase its turnover from Rs 34 crore during 1999-2000 to Rs 76 crore in 2000-2001.
Hence, a typical Fun Rover is entrusted with the job of engaging customers in a variety of activities in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The idea is to heighten the feeling of fun and `having done things' while on vacation.
So even if you are a total novice, you can indulge in specialised activities such as rafting, rapelling, para gliding or enjoy the more exotic spice walks and bird watching with a little help from the Fun Rover. The Fun Rovers are encouraged to make the shy and inhibited guests feel comfortable enough to interact with fellow guests in community activities such as `antakshari' sessions, bon fires and parties. Children too are kept engaged in a range of fun activities such as skits, magic shows and the like.
The total number of Fun Rovers per resort is six-eight. Whereas anybody can qualify for the job of a general Fun Rover, the specialised ones are hired for specific skills they possess such as para gliding or rafting.
What other qualities hold candidates applying for the Fun Rovers job in good stead? Says Nanda,``Unfortunately for us, there are no strict rules that help us identify an ideal candidate for the job. It, however, helps to be a young and talented extrovert with excellent communication skills.'' Similarly, there is no specific training that goes into making a Fun Rover.
Even as the company has invested very little in training programmes and the like so far, there are plans to develop the concept further. Starting in May this year, Mahindra Hotels and Resorts plans to send a team of resort managers and Fun Rovers to a few world class properties of international holiday major Club Med. ``The idea is to expose our employees to international best practices and experiences,'' says Club Mahindra's head sales and marketing, Hardip Singh Goindi.
The Fun Rovers will have plenty to learn from GOs or General Organisers employed by Club Med to induce an informal atmosphere at its resorts, feels the company. The company plans to send 10 to 12 employees to Club Med properties this year.
Even as the concept has received a few good responses from customers, implementing it was not a cakewalk. Says Nanda, ``although the idea of having Fun Rovers on our resorts was inspired by international precedents, we had to temper the concept to suit the Indian travellers.'' Afterall the degree of familiarity that a traveller abroad would be comfortable with might not be appreciated by the Indian traveller. The Fun Rovers are required to be on their guard at all times, lest they disturb or offend the sensibilities of the customers.