Known for its hip interior design, fashionable facilities and eye-catching locations, W Hotels has been redefining luxury hospitality as a lifestyle. The brand goes an extra mile to create a memorable connection with guests with its ‘Whatever/Whenever’ approach that is exemplified by its signature concierge service, the W Insider, who will get you anything from backstage passes to the coolest gigs to a new outfit for a last-minute meeting—think a genie but with unlimited wishes. Traveldine catches up with Shreeja Jha, the newest W Insider at W Goa.
Can you tell us about yourself? How did you land a job as a W Insider?
I started my career back in 2014 at Marriott Goa in Panjim. I was a trainee back then, so I had a three-year graduate programme which is called SALE—systematic approach to interactive learning. You work three months each in every department, such as food and beverage, housekeeping, and front office, and for the next two years you get to choose which department you want to work in and grow in. I chose front office and that’s how it all started.
After that, I moved to JW Marriott Calcutta for six months and then formally joined [the hotel] as a front office associate. I then moved to London and got through the London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch as a duty manager. I worked there for a year and then I moved to the Park Plaza London Riverbank as a senior guest relations manager in 2019. Then in 2020, the pandemic hit and we were all in lockdown. My parents wanted me to come back, so I moved to India and started looking for jobs here. It was a stressful couple of months. Then one day, I was scrolling through Marriott’s website and I applied for the position of duty manager for W Goa. At my interview, I was also told about this new position called the W Insider. It sounded super interesting and exciting to me because it was related to operations but you get to socialize a lot more, so I took the position. It’s been one of the most fun and exciting journeys so far—I’ve never been this excited to go to work and meet new people, so I made a tagline for me to become that genie in W Goa to grant more than three wishes for you.
What is a W Insider? How do you become one?
I love the concept. It is not really like a guest relations manager nor is it a concierge or marketing, but it is somewhere between all of them. It’s more like you are there for the guest to help them with whatever they need, whenever. It can be like a backstage pass for a concert, or a table for two at the busiest restaurant in Goa, a helicopter ride—it can be anything. The clientele now is changing a lot all over the globe, including India. People are looking for something they’ve never done. They’re looking for new experiences. [The concept of a] W Insider is about accommodating those customers. If they tell you that Martin Garrix is playing at Sunburn in Goa and they’re a huge fan and want to go see him backstage, the W Insider should have the kind of contacts to be able to get that done for a guest so they have the lasting memory from W Goa.
It’s like making the impossible possible, creating magic for our customers, and that’s something I’ve always loved doing as a hotelier. That is the one part that excites me the most. Every morning I get up and I think about what new thing I am going to do for someone today. That interest and passion makes one a W Insider. In a way, I think each and every staff is a W Insider and they create magic for our customers.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I start my day with a breakfast round. So, I meet all my guests, ask them what they’re here for, ask them if there’s anything I can do for them, get feedback for different departments, maybe make some bookings for them somewhere. I get a lot of surprises every morning when I talk to different people. It just feels amazing. We have a few meetings during the day where we discuss our arrivals, our VIP customers. We have ambassador guests so everyone is allocated a certain guest each day. My entire day just goes in talking to different people and I love that about my job because it’s such a great learning to know what the other person is thinking about life, or about Goa, or about the hotel. It’s good to see where you work from a different perspective. In the evening, I like to check my email, maybe arrange something for our guests for dinner, make them an itinerary, send them a bottle of wine if it’s a special occasion, write a card for them—stuff like that. I’ve just started learning and there’s so much more I’m looking forward to.
What sets a W Insider apart from other personal concierge services?
The idea and concept of delivering anything and everything for a guest is what sets apart a W Insider. I have not had a single day where a guest has requested something and we have not been able to deliver it. I think that is what we are here for; it’s what a W Insider is all about. Our tagline is ‘Whatever/Whenever’ and I love that about this property.
What are your top three suggestions for unique experiences one must have when in Goa?
The first thing we tell our guests is to go local when it comes to exploring Goa, whether it’s the food, drinks or culture. The food here is amazing—order recheado pomfret by the beach with feni or local Goan gin.
If you are someone who loves to put up Instagram stories, you should visit old Goa and Panjim. It has so much of history and culture.
Visit our RockPool! It’s funny that I’m talking about my own hotel but that’s one of the best locations I’ve been at in Goa. It’s one of my favourite party places—the vibe, the music, the theme there is amazing.
How Postcard Hotels stayed ahead of the curve to score high even amidst a raging pandemic
Peace out: India’s growing wellness market