Pariva Rustagi is the Director Sales Support, Asia Pacific for Hilton Hotels. She is a knowledgeable leader in hospitality commercial services with 26 years of hands-on experience. Her passion lies in problem solving and working with teams to offer solutions ahead of time. She has held various roles over the years and studied hospitality sales from close quarters and varied lenses. She thrives in building long lasting relationships and navigates daily through a high emotional quotient. Pariva is a strong advocate of gender equity and is an active leader for Women Empowerment at Hilton and externally.
Pariva is now based in Singapore at the Hilton Asia Pacific HQ as Director Sales Support Asia Pacific, responsible for developing the Support & Enablement functions, to aid the performance and available bandwidth of the APAC sales teams. She takes pride in being a mother and wife and counts on her family for constant support.
2020 and 2021 were challenging years for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in 2022?
These were unprecedented times and hopefully this is going to be behind us soon. Personally, what is interesting to me is that we are seeing more and more friends and family related travel and I foresee this growing further. Spending time with near and dear ones has rightly taken priority over anything else. I don’t know anyone, who did not yearn to be with their families in the last two years. The other segment that has really stood out when it comes to travel is the luxury travel segment and I believe this will be here to stay for a fairly long time.
When do you foresee a complete recovery of the hospitality industry business?
I am highly optimistic, consumer confidence is growing and all indicators are moving in the right direction. However, forecasting a complete recovery, in my view would mean different things as we come out on the brighter side. The pent-up demand and need to travel is an encouraging sign, which is clearly being encouraged by countries opening borders and easing restrictions. So, very soon we should see the travel and tourism industry bouncing back.
What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers during challenging times?
Firstly, for those who started their careers in hospitality within last 2 years – well done ! You’ve gone through one of our industry’s toughest periods. Believe me when I say this that you will be the girls and boys who would not be easily fazed by any challenges in near future and this will truly help you in your careers.
Simply put, I believe that hospitality is a diverse and dynamic industry and has something to offer to everyone. The last few years have compelled accelerated innovation, which provides more opportunities than ever before. When I compare these times to when I started in the industry over 25 years ago, the choices were the regular Front Office, Culinary, Housekeeping, Sales, etc.
The simple 3 rules would be my advice, learning from my own experience as well being a happy contributor.
1) Be curious to learn and the explore, there is so much opportunity within this bright industry. You may select the known path and/or aspire to be a subject matter expert; few I can name are finance, bartending, baker, wine sommelier, security expert, restaurant, kitchen or menu designer, project management (champion in data review, building decks and co-working with multiple teams at a time), etc.
2) Have fun and I do mean this earnestly. The only way to grow and commit to hospitality is having fun along the way. Somedays could seem impossible and demanding, however there’s a brighter side to those too – called learning.
3) Continued learning, upskill yourself – something that will make you richer. I have always wished that I would have invested time in picking up a language or been bolder with some of my decisions and taken risks to develop and grow. It will give you sense of accomplishment and irrespective of your current choice of department you would always have choices for the future.
Finally, for those who have eyes set for this field. You would be entering the industry while it’s on a rise. I won’t mince my words here, it’s going to be tough ride ahead for you but those who can quickly adapt and come to see it positively would love the journey.
What makes Hilton Hotels stand out from other brands you’ve worked in?
Our culture – I’m experiencing this first-hand. Despite the adversities of the last few years, I proudly share that Hilton did not waiver from its core value of filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality. Generosity towards our guests, team members and everyone extending to their families has been our core.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of?
Yes, I’ve been very fortunate. I set my eyes on the industry as a young middle school student from a career counselling session. I just knew that this is the industry I belong to.
What would you be if not a hotelier?
If i was not a hotelier i would have surely have been in a related travel industry arena. Probably a travel writer, I did have a desire to host a travel show once upon a time.
Which cities are your favourites for: 1) food 2) history 3) fashion
Having traveled extensively I do think Indian food tops my list of favourites….the flavours, spices and nurtured cooking makes it outstanding. Italian food is my second favorite.
Berlin is a synonym of history for me, rich and real…the history touches you. My first day in Paris years ago, is etched in my mind due to the fashion quotient. It did not matter, but each person walking on the street was fashionable and appeared to be walking the ramp. I admired how they spent time to ‘get dressed.’ My personal favourite is a full 9 yards…. ‘the saree’, not only is it the most elegant professional look and I have a different level of confidence in a saree.
When are you happiest?
Honestly, the days, moments and periods when I’m with my family and have a feeling of fulfillment at work. This amazing combination makes me the happiest. Actively participating and contributing towards women empowerment and equality gives me a purpose. On a day-to-day basis, I find happiness in getting my nails done, during my shopping sprees and simple activities. I love travelling, so that’s happiness too for me.
At work, which is your most challenging activity?
In my role, I’m responsible to roll out new initiatives to make the Asia Pacific sales organisation efficient and effective. This is truly fun, however the challenges of various new plans and sharing a vision on paper is pretty different until they become of value tangibly. In the recent years, I’ve learnt influential leadership, that poses its own challenges, with that said I would have it no other way. The sense of accomplishment at the other end is worth the initial challenges.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
Ages ago, I learnt that hire for attitude and train for skill and i follow that rule even today. As I interact with candidates, I assess if they are a right fit in our culture, will they have a career with Hilton vs. just one role, do they carry the values that are important to us. If they also have a few skills, important for the role that becomes a win win situation. I do believe for senior positions, the good old reference chat is helpful, as far as we know that people grow and evolve with time, so a balanced view is crucial when hiring.
Which is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do your best, leave the rest – from my father and I’ve humbly passed on the same to my daughter. There is no alternative to hard work and sincerity. That’s the role we play, work ethics are instilled by inspiration and role models. I vividly recall, my mother working endless hours and experienced her joy when the trousseau was finally ready, pleasures of being a boutique owner’s daughter. Witnessing my husband’s dedication towards golf, continues to impress upon me the fact that do your best, practice, practice, practice and leave the rest, the outcome of the round is beyond your own control.