In conversation with Lalit Roy,
Founder Director, Raj & Roy Associates
Lalit Roy is the Founder Director of Raj & Roy Associates – a consultancy that sources and integrates kitchen equipment and restaurant accessories for 5-star kitchens, restaurant chains, and individual theme restaurants. According to Lalit, sourcing for the hospitality world calls for travel outreach to get the best value and pricing for customers – and can get complex when you’re dealing with hundreds of products, across individual service areas and unique verticals.
And travel for Lalit means exploring evolved markets in Europe, the US, and South East Asia. “Our aim here is to seek and source new product lines, concepts, and better ways of doing things,” says Lalit. “In the process we also want to build a network of reliable equipment suppliers.”
With all this overseas travel, does he have the time to take a break for a vacation? Yes, he does, because his wife Manisha takes over that responsibility and ensures that the family has the right work-life balance.
And that is exactly what our conversation is all about in this exclusive Q&A session for the AIRDA website. Let’s hear what Lalit has to say about travel, vacations, and what good times mean when you have earned your break from work.
It’s useful to start with a question related to timeshare – what is your exposure to this vacation format?
Let me be really honest out here. My initial exposure to timeshare wasn’t something to write home about – it was a really bad experience. We had booked a week’s stay in Darjeeling and upon reaching there, found that it was a rundown, ramshackle place that was badly maintained. I just could not imagine timeshare members coming here year after year for a vacation. Needless to say that that we did not check in, and moved to a place that we could at least call comfortable.
Having said that, I must add here that this was a long time ago, when timeshare was still an early concept in the country. Today timeshare paints a whole new picture – an interesting one at that, erasing the bad memories we experienced earlier.
We are indeed relieved to hear the last part of that response. Tell us, have you experienced a timeshare vacation the way it is today?
Yes, indeed – we have been to several resorts, and my wife, Manisha, has her circle of friends that ventures out to a different timeshare resort every year. From my own experience, timeshare is a wonderful format for families that like to vacation together, younger adults who like to use their parents’ memberships, and wives taking a break on their own. It’s a format that supports all of this, and can be a safe vacation environment for women.
Today, if you were to close your eyes at a timeshare resort in India, and visualize the experience, it’s like being anywhere in the world. Except that the friendly faces I see here are my fellow Indians. The experience in many ways is truly international.
Since you have travelled extensively, how evolved is the timeshare concept?
The timeshare resort of today is a whole new avataar, in terms of design, architecture, facilities, guest comfort, food, and activities for guests.
From what I have seen, even the equipment in individual room kitchens has been carefully handpicked for guest convenience and comfort. I have even visited (with permission) the main kitchen at some of the resorts, to find the latest in kitchen equipment. (I am qualified to make that statement because that is the business I am in.)
Today, I can clearly see a turnaround in terms of professional management, world class facilities and a visible commitment to the customer. It takes concerted effort to do this, and can be done only with group participation and commitment from the stakeholders involved.
Is there a dividing line between hotels and timeshare resorts?
If you’re looking for a difference, here’s my take on it. A timeshare resort becomes your destination for a vacation, while a regular hotel could just be a transit point.
I have used hotels in India and abroad as transit points on work related travel. So a hotel is used as a base for me to get back in the evening, to relax and catch up on mail and other conversations. (So the need here is functional, for stay-overs and lobby meetings.)
When it comes to a resort, I clearly have a vacation in mind – so all facilities that you see in a modern resort are important. Swimming pool, gym, spa, activity areas, theme restaurants, outdoor gaming and indoor sports. These are important because I am on a vacation to unwind and enjoy myself.
So according to me, hotels and resorts are both in the hospitality basket, but they serve different needs. (Though a hotel in a tourist area will come close to offering a vacation experience.)
Lalit, what’s your take on the current pandemic situation?
Well, I’m part of the supply chain in the hospitality business, so I know where it hurts. I can also visualize what resorts must have gone through during closures and lockdowns. Believe me, the slowdown associated with this pandemic has been a serious setback. I’m just waiting for the cogs and wheels to come together once again, to help us move forward.
With newer strains of the virus being reported and corrective measures that need to be taken, it’s still a grey area in terms of what is possible and what is not. But I am upbeat about a turnaround, and I think it will happen soon.
Finally, one last question – what do you think of the kind of work done by AIRDA, in India’s timeshare industry?
Thank you for the update on AIRDA’s supportive role over the years in the timeshare space. I am happy to hear that resort owners themselves have come together on a common platform - to validate the benefits of timeshare and take corrective action where necessary. I also understand that there is a concerted effort to change perceptions based on quality of service, transparency and customer satisfaction.
I am also happy to see AIRDA members like Club Mahindra now offering short term membership options such as their Bliss plan. This is a move in the right direction in a market that is going to be in a constant state of transition for some time.
I wish AIRDA members well, and hope they continue to reflect the wonderful times they showcase in their advertising.
All images used are courtesy of Lalit Roy.
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.