Empowering Women in Hospitality: Insights from Industry Leaders

Seema Taj, Director of Sales at Sheraton Grand Palace Indore, is a seasoned professional with over 22 years of experience in the hospitality sector. Renowned for her strategic vision and exceptional sales management skills, Seema has consistently driven revenue growth and exceeded service standards. Starting as an Airport Sales Executive, she swiftly rose through the ranks, earning recognition for her outstanding contributions to various hotels.

As a leader, Seema adopts a hands-on approach, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation among her team. She empowers her colleagues to take ownership of their roles and strive for excellence in all endeavours. Committed to staying ahead of industry trends, Seema is dedicated to driving continued growth and success for Sheraton Grand Palace Indore.

With a passion for sales and a dedication to excellence, Seema Taj is poised to lead Sheraton Grand Palace Indore to new heights of achievement and distinction in the competitive hospitality landscape. Her strategic mindset and leadership skills make her an invaluable asset to the hotel’s management team

As part of the International Women’s Day 2024 observance, Seema Taj participated in a comprehensive discussion with the Tourism India editorial team focusing on this year’s theme. Highlights from their conversation offer valuable insights into her perspectives and professional journey.

As a woman working in hotel operations, what strategies do you employ to ensure the efficient and smooth day-to-day management of the property?”

In hotel operations, I prioritize clear communication, thorough training, and empowerment of the team. Every morning begins with a team huddle to outline the day’s objectives and address any concerns. This ensures that every team member is informed and aligned with the day’s goals. Additionally, I employ technology for task management and guest feedback to respond swiftly and effectively to any operational needs.

How do you approach marketing strategies in the hospitality industry to appeal to diverse audiences while also promoting gender equality and empowerment?

Our marketing strategies are built around inclusivity and diversity. We showcase the myriad experiences our hotel offers, catering to different cultural preferences and highlighting our commitment to gender equality. We also run campaigns that celebrate the diversity of our staff and guests, reinforcing our belief that everyone deserves exceptional service.

What measures do you take in human resources to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment for women, including addressing issues like equal pay and career advancement?

In human resources, we prioritize creating policies that ensure equal opportunities for women, such as unbiased recruitment processes, equal pay, and clear paths to career advancement. Regular training sessions on diversity and inclusion are mandatory, and we maintain an open-door policy for all employees to discuss any equality concerns.

Can you share examples of successful diversity and inclusion programs you’ve implemented within your hospitality organization, particularly focusing on the empowerment of women?

We have instituted several diversity and inclusion programs, like leadership training for women, mentorship programs connecting experienced female leaders with junior staff, and recognition awards for contributions to diversity and community outreach programs targeting women’s development.

How do you navigate challenges such as gender stereotypes or biases in the hospitality industry, particularly in roles traditionally dominated by men?

To navigate gender stereotypes, we encourage an environment where merit dictates progress. We showcase success stories of women in traditionally male-dominated roles and offer workshops that address and dismantle these stereotypes. This has helped create a more equitable workplace culture.

As a woman in hospitality leadership, what steps do you take to mentor and support other women in their career advancement within the industry?

As a leader, I take an active role in mentoring women within our organization by providing guidance, sharing knowledge, and facilitating networking opportunities. I also advocate for transparent promotion processes and support programs that are specifically designed to boost women’s career progression.

How do you ensure a healthy work-life balance for yourself and your team in demanding roles such as hotel operations or marketing?

Ensuring a healthy work-life balance involves flexible scheduling, promoting a culture where taking leave for personal needs is respected, and providing resources for stress management. I lead by example, maintaining my work-life balance and encouraging my team to do the same.

What innovations or advancements do you foresee in the hospitality industry that could further empower women in roles like housekeeping, marketing, and human resources?

I envision innovations in the hospitality industry that support women’s advancement, including AI for unbiased hiring, professional development platforms tailored for women, and leveraging virtual reality for safety training, which could be particularly empowering for women in all roles.

Can you share a personal story or anecdote that highlights the importance of investing in women professionals in the hospitality sector?

One of our housekeeping supervisors, a single mother, exemplifies the impact of investing in women. With our flexible scheduling and professional development programs, she was able to pursue further education while excelling at work, inspiring many with her dedication and growth.

In housekeeping, what initiatives have you implemented to enhance cleanliness standards and guest satisfaction, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented rigorous cleanliness protocols, including enhanced sanitization procedures, staff training for safety and hygiene, and touchless technology for guest interactions, ensuring both guest satisfaction and a safe working environment.

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