Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Maurizio Romani and I belong to a family that has a background of tourism and hospitality. My parents and uncle used to have hotels and I used to spend a lot of time with them thus learning about this profession. I personally decided to grow in this industry by serving in several countries and learning different languages. During my career, I touched almost all the departments of a hotel and now when I am serving as a general manager I am at a better position to understand and resolve the issues in any department. Before joining Marriot, I was the GM of Pearl-Continental (PC) Hotel, Bhurban and prior to that I worked for the finest hotels in countries such as Germany, England, Italy, Portugal and Brazil, having worked for international networks such as Forte Hotels (Grosvenor House Hotel, London), Sheraton (Hotel Danieli in Venice), Le Meridien (Forte Village Resort, Sardinia) and Posadas Group in Brazil (Caesar Park Rio de Janeiro).
How do you see the future of hospitality in Pakistan?
Honestly, it will take a little bit time but I see it in a very positive way in Pakistan. The country is moving into a very different phase at the moment. The NOCs are being issued to the tourists; the airlines are coming back to Pakistan while the visa on arrival facility is also a very positive step for the tourism industry in the country.
How do you see hospitality as a profession?
Pakistan is moving into a new phase of hospitality and tourism; a lot of people can pursue their careers in different sectors now.
How has been your experience working here in Pakistan?
The experience is quite positive. Initially, when I received the offer from Pakistan, my family was not totally happy but then I got to know that it is a safe country to live. At the end of the day, the big cities like Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi are the ones where you can actually move freely and without any stranger feeling.
What is your contribution to the hospitality industry in Pakistan?
I have spent much of my life in hospitality industry and that’s also in the five star properties of different countries. Since my arrival here in Pakistan, I try to implement my experience in the properties here and the people have reacted very positively to it. This is a little contribution from my side.
Is hospitality education necessary to join this field?
Obviously, I would say yes but I have done a different type of school; I have done administration. You can actually study a lot but the thing that matters the most is experience in the respective field.
What type of attitude one should have in the field of hospitality?
Positive, proactive! Passion is the most important aspect one must have, without it you cannot make a success story. Being available to your job is the most important thing, at times you need to work late due to customers’ requirements. In that case, you cannot have excuses, like," my time is over". Be a willing worker.
Q 8: How do you rate Pakistani food?
I shall be honest; it is too much of spices. I respect the culture of the people and we love to meet their requirement in our F&B. Actually, every food item should have its own taste. For example, if you are having beef, then it should have its original taste. Back at home, if something cooked is lacking something, just cover up with spices. (Laughter)
In our hotel, we arrange two separate arrangements for the same dish, one spicy for our local guests and one without spicy for our foreign guests.
What type of competition is going on among hotels in Pakistan?
Unfortunately, there are very few chains of hotels in Pakistan. Out of four, Hashoo group has two: Marriott and PC. Other than these two, we have Avari and Mov n Pick. So, in real sense there is no real competition. For example in Brazil, comparing to Pakistan, there are many hotel chains. In capital Islamabad, there are only two five star hotels. We have been hearing that Hyat Regency is coming to Pakistan for last two years but nothing has happened so far. So once, there are more players - the competition naturally comes into play.
With the government encouraging tourism, more investment is likely to come into Pakistan which will result in something good for healthy competition.
Does advertising your business have any impact?
Yes, off course! Advertising always pays back. As the trend is growing, we have strong presence on social media. The client now prefers to do all the travelling details using the cellular phone with interaction through facebook and other social media tools, our property is making full use of it.
What are the future plans of your organization?
We are coming up with two more properties in Multan and Malam Jabba. One more is in the pipeline. In addition to this, we have several projects coming up related to tourism. We have also announced the project for offering training and educational programs. These will provide opportunities for more employment.
Is current government doing well for tourism?
Yes, the present government is promoting tourism:
a. Relaxation and facilitation regarding visa issuing policy.
b. Doing away with the NOC for foreigners who would like to visit Northern areas and AJK. I myself am planning to make a trip to Gilgit and Hunza along with my wife. Also would be visiting Gawader in the south.
How do you see COTHM playing its role in hospitality?
When, I arrived in Pakistan, I had my first interaction with COTHM. It’s doing a great job offering International courses in Pakistan. It has its International presence with its office in Dubai. We at our property, have students from COTHM as well along with students from Hashoo group and as well as from abroad.
Any message for hospitality aspirants?
Along with classroom training, hands-on experience is very important.