Hotelier K B Kachru Celebrates his Five Decade long Journey in Hospitality

A hotelier with a conscience, with a true understanding of the nuts and bolts of what hospitality could be, then when he started in the business, and equally if not more importantly, as the rules of engagement evolved. He continued to keep himself abreast, if not ahead, of his times. A true professional, who worked as a team, inclusively with his network of media, friends in the industry, and his guests. He never had a harsh word for anyone, preferring a style of management that assured his colleagues he was always there to back them, no matter what they did. Working with him in difficult situations, and given the job requirements in a public sector undertaking, where favours were expected and asked for, most unexpectedly.

ITDC is where he got his grounding, where he got chiselled with craft how to handle the most difficult situations. Keep your cool, understand the situation, and find solutions that work for everybody. KB perfected this art, in all humility and spirit of professionalism, never compromising with his primary duty to his profession, his company and to himself.

His recently released book, The Life of a Hotelier, is an essence of his experiences and his close encounters with the highest in government. How he survived, and when issues became too unwieldy, rather than succumbing to pressures, he chose to quit, keeping his honour intact.

The private sector assignments saw him bring Radisson Hotels to India; ironically, it was during his ITDC days that he first met the Radisson team. He set up an enviable chain of hotels, growing in confidence as over 100 owners trusted him completely. And, true to his professionalism, he never let them down. In the process, he empowered his junior colleagues to take up positions across India and indeed around the globe. Many of them proved to be much sought after professionals, among the best globally.

His memoirs trace his journey, managing The Ashok as the youngest ever general manger, to heading the hotels division of ITDC, where work philosophy and discipline both needed a drastic change; his is a story of the rise of ITDC and then its subsequent fall, and interestingly how the private sector woke up to hospitality, especially the international chains. An absorbing tale of over fifty decades – through the eyes of a person committed to the industry.

KB is not hanging his boots anytime soon. He prefers to work for the industry and is available for any roles whereby he can ‘give back’ to hospitality and tourism.

A major interaction of the evening was a candid conversation between KB and noted journalist Vir Sanghvi, where insights into this journey were shared in great detail. How KB faced the trauma of then deputy PM deciding to allow anyone in a dhoti to walk into any ITDC hotel and be given a 50% discount on room and food bill! Without a written order! And how KB insisted on getting formal orders to give a green signal to his staff around the country, who would only listen to him and not anyone else. Or, when he was possibly being framed while staying at The Samrat, which was his declared official residence. The other highlight was serving the mighty at Hyderabad House, when catering to official government functions, and having to wade through the many tribulations of those in power. How his friends stood by him, notably his senior and mentor, Rajan Jetley who was at one time his MD at ITDC, and then moved on to Singapore. And where Rajan helped him set up a new job that marked a new beginning for him. Them his new friends at Radisson, who soon swore by him in all that they did in India.

At the book launch, India’s Sherpa to G20, Amitabh Kant lavished fulsome praise of KB’s contribution to the industry. Present on the occasion were friends and family and well-wishers, many of whom have been witness to his journey, some of them co-travellers! A memorable event, where Radisson New Delhi did the chain proud with an awesome spread of cuisines served with warmth and dedication. An evening to cherish, a book to savour!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *