In a span of two years, living conditions are changing like never before. Exposure to a global culture plays a pivotal role too in how living spaces are fast changing to meet real-time challenges and requirements, given the pandemic that has made change a key constant. Krishna Kumar, CEO & Co-Founder of Isthara Parks Private Limited, highlights in this candid conversation with Financial Express Online how global exposures have taught him a lot about working with different cultures and optimising resources.
As a travel enthusiast with a passion for cycling and mentoring young talent in the hospitality segment, Krishna Kumar says, “Switzerland was a great experience and studying and working in Switzerland brings a lot of character and discipline to life. My key takeaways from Switzerland apart from its beauty is definitely “Organized way of working and living”, respecting time of others, Discipline in life both work and personal and most importantly the calmness with which all these binds together. ”
With a Masters in Hospitality from Switzerland’s International Hotel and Tourism Training Institutes Neuchatel – Switzerland, Krishna Kumar has over 25 years of global hospitality experience holding key positions spanning the Middle East, Africa, SouthEast Asia and SouthWest Asia, he also had successful stints with IHG, Radisson and Sarovar Hotels and Resorts.
Isthara Park’s founder Krishna Kumar highlights the advantages of global exposure, “When you have stints across continents, not only does the Culture of those countries enrich your experience but you take away great learnings and you start appreciating working as teams. I started in the Middle East – Dubai with IHG and had the opportunity to cover the entire GCC countries. I was lucky to be exposed to Hospitality in Canada during this tenure, IHG Toronto to be specific.”
Speaking to Financial Express Online about ‘Loft’, a student-centric brand for living and accommodation services for undergraduates and postgrads, Krishna Kumar states, “We essentially offer both On-Campus services wherein the College Management signs up with us provide Loft services to their students and Off-Campus services where the colleges may not have a Hostel facility and are keen to tie up with us to offer their students the Loft experience and in the latter’s case, we take over buildings close to the Colleges and upgrade them to Loft standards an deliver the Loft experience to the Students.”
Q. What about students who require financial assistance?
“We have a policy to assist students who may need financial assistance – We do this by offering them a flexible payment option, an EMI option and also in certain cases offer free stays to students,” Isthara Park’s founder adds.
Q. Tell us about the vision and passion behind Loft, the milestone so far, esp during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the safety protocols and challenges being addressed.
Our vision in Isthara for the brand ‘Loft’ is simple – We are creating “Memorable experiences” for students giving them total living solutions that make their College life-enriching and comfortable. Our passion is service and we want to bring this to life in every transaction in Student Living.
I believe this segment has largely been ignored and is yet to see a Quality operator who not only focuses on upgrading Real Estate and this is where Isthara with our brand Loft has fit in. We want to deliver not only a well-appointed space, but we want to create “Memorable experiences” delivering Quality services that include Great food, World-Class Housekeeping, Community connect, Tech Integration, Laundry, Maintenance and a Safe and Secure place to stay.
We are very excited about this journey. We have undertaken various covid 19 safety protocols, like partnering with the World’s leading Sanitation and Cleaning Chemicals brand Johnson Diversey and delivering safe, hygienic and sanitized places to stay apart from the daily temperature checks, training the team to spot anyone having symptoms and isolating them, promoting social distancing and also ensuring that we have a very strict visitor policy for all our premises.
Q. In which cities is Loft currently present in?
We operate Loft in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore and we are also excited to be signing up a few contracts in NCR in the very near future. Our general student demographics in this segment is typically the late teens to early 20″s, so predominantly UG’s and PG’s. We have partnered with some great names in Medical and Engineering Colleges in the cities mentioned.
Q. Can you share more details about the processes being followed with resident skippers at the Loft?
Resident Skippers are a very key component of the entire process in the Loft.
Right from onboarding a person and ensuring that they comply with the regulations of the Government, they do daily temperature checks, watch for any sick Guests and ensure they are flagged and isolated in our sick bays if needed, monitor the Social distancing aspect in Dining areas and Common areas, sanitize the rooms everyday and deliver a safe place for the Guests to stay.
So there are a lot of tasks that they undertake on a daily basis to create these “Memorable moments for the guests”.
Q. How are safety and hygiene guidelines being implemented as well as supervised at The Loft as well as Isthara Co-Living spaces? Also, what are the differentiators in both segments?
The standards of safety and hygiene guidelines are similar to a great degree in both segments. Apart from cleaning and sanitation schedules, social distancing and temperature checks, we are also very keen to continue with our Visitor policy to minimize risks.
Co-Living by its nature has our guests visiting offices etc which cannot be stopped so there are more precautions taken there whereas Loft, our Student Housing brand has lesser interactions that the Students have with outsiders.
Q. What are the key takeaways from the Loft experience so far and what are you planning next in terms of quality facilities and safer spaces?
Our key takeaways from the Loft so far have been the overwhelming need to upgrade the services that the students are being offered and how we need to map these in terms of Safety Security and Services.
Colleges and Institutions are shaping the lives and future of these students and we have a responsibility to be a part of this and deliver what we can to enrich their College experience. We have great plans going forward in terms of expansions and tie-ups with some very prestigious names in the Education sector and we are presently discussing with our partner Colleges on how we can redefine living spaces in terms of having a specific number of students per room, Social distancing policies, Food experience and how we can assist in elevating the Cleaning and Sanitation process.