Institute Guest House: Amicable Enough?
The North and the South Block Guest houses of the institute serve above just rooms for rent for the deserving; they stand as a warm welcome of NITR to its guests of honor and write the fate of the impressions formed of our hospitality. As the times of fests, guest lectures and placements see their end, team MM looked into the past, introspecting the level of hospitality NITR has been offering to the stayers at our fraternal twins for watching the glory of our institute. Several issues such as non-functioning central air conditioning, speculations about bookings and concerns of HR representatives visiting the institute, have been brought to the notice of the Faculty-in-charge of the guest houses Prof. Siddharth Jena in the presence of Prof. Samir Mohanty on a hot Sunday afternoon. Read on to find out more:
MM: How many types of bookings are allowed in the guest house and what is their order of priority? Are both the South and the North Block guest houses made available for all the categories?
SJ: There are four categories under which the bookings fall in the institute guest house: A, B, C and D. The A category is reserved for VIPs, distinguished dignitaries and Company HR representatives for whom the institute bears all the expenditure. The B category is for the guests who have studied at the institute for a stipulated amount of time and have tentatively taken a break from it and are those who pay for their accommodation at the guest house. The C category comprises of two sub-divisions namely C1 and C2 where by the former one, the person booking the guest house pays and by the latter the guest who is staying at the accommodation, pays. The parents of the current students and students officially invited for fests come under the C2 category. However, if the parents of a sick ward visit the institute, they are treated as category B guests. The D category is essentially for people who are from other institutes and cite their reason of stay as ‘Non-Academic purposes’. The order of priority to the rooms stands as A, B, C and D in the decreasing order.
As the South Block guest house is equipped with better facilities and rooms, the A category guests will have their first hand on it. However, it is just a notion prevailing, that the South Block guest house is reserved only for these guests. If vacancy is seen and the money is paid, any category can avail the south house guest house. As of now, the South and North Block guest houses together accommodate 50 rooms.
MM: Are the provisions like food, services and house keeping the same for a particular guest house? Is room service provided in either of the guest houses?
SJ: All the provisions and facilities provided for each of the guest houses are the same. We do not show any partiality towards the guests we serve. Once the guests arrive, the personnel of the concerned guest house take to their heels and work, so that the guests have a comfortable and memorable stay.
Coming to the concept of room service, it is strictly for ensuring cleanliness and dealing with house-keeping problems and NOT for serving food to the rooms. The guests are required to have food served in the dining hall by the personnel of the guest house kitchen if they wish.
MM: During International Students’ Meet-16, approximately 35 rooms were booked by the coordinators through their faculty-in-charge but they received confirmation only for 8 rooms. There have been claims that the rooms weren’t allotted even if there were vacancies. How would respond to that?
SJ: Booking of 35 rooms falls under bulk- booking which pertains to booking more than 75% of the rooms. Bulk-booking is allowed only if the cause of visit is for conferences, seminars or short-term courses. At any time, 100% booking of the guest house is not allowed. Unfortunately, ISM doesn’t fall under any of the categories and prior permissions and information were not given to me. If anyone wants to throw allegations that vacant rooms weren’t given to use, they are free to come with me with their woes with proper proof.
MM: How is the history of booking for both the guest houses maintained? Is there any provision for students and faculty to see every booking of the guest house if needed?
SJ: The history of bookings is maintained online by the manager and me. As of now, the availability of rooms for a future date alone is shown during the booking time. We expect to make sure that the history of bookings is available for everybody to see after contacting the automation cell for a suitable plan. As to the current situation, a student wanting to check the booking status can always approach the faculty advisor through whom the booking procedure for students’ parents usually goes through.
MM: Students have to book rooms through their faculty advisor. Why not make the bookings directly accessible to the students?
SJ: There are 4000 odd students residing in the NITR Campus. If students have the first and last say over booking rooms for their visiting relatives, there are chances of mischief being raised by some students. Also, it will be difficult to maintain track of so many students booking rooms. Its relatively easier if the faculty advisors do it on behalf of the students while the students too don’t have to go through a lot of hassle.
MM: It has so happened that even after rooms have been booked online, the guest house officials have denied rooms on the day of stay citing non-availability of rooms. Where does the fault lie in this regard?
SJ: I was not aware of this, and certainly this should not be happening. This issue will be clarified once the booking history is made available to all so that a room once booked for guests, whether a week before the date of stay or two days shy of it, is reserved for that guest, and he/she is not turned away due to non-availability or booking failure.
MM: There have been instances of guests being allotted rooms in the guest house on the spot even in absence of an online pre booking and confirmation.
SJ: If a student’s parents or other guests have arrived at the guest house and rooms are vacant, the guest house manager will not deny accommodation in such cases. The rule of exclusive online booking for the guest house does exist. However, in these cases, if the rules are followed strictly by the book, it will only cause unnecessary inconvenience to the Institute’s guests, which I strongly discourage.
MM: The erratic nature of the working of the centralized AC in both the guest houses has become a matter of concern due to the scorching heat of the summer. The meeting room of the South Guest house also has acoustic problems with the AC as important GDs and PIs for companies happen there. When will this situation be rectified?
SJ: From the beginning of this summer, we had problems with the AC cables which weren’t positively rectified by the then AC care taker due to which the whole of the AC plant had to be shut down. However, recently we have employed another able AC rectifier who is doing his job efficiently to bring the situation under control. The situation is expected to improve in the coming week.
The problems with the AC at the meeting room has never been brought to us before and now that it has been done, we will look into it and arrange for false-ceiling so that further inconvenience to companies is not caused. But it is to be kept in mind that this is the end of the financial year of 2015-16 and the budget allotted, 30 lakhs has been exhausted by causes of maintenance. We can proceed to make repairs only after the budget for the coming year is allotted.
MM: The interviews for training and placement go up to late in the night and the HRs expect beverages like coffee and tea which aren’t available at that time at the guest house due to which the student placement coordinators need to fetch the beverages from night canteens. Can anything be done in this regard?
SJ: Till date, I haven’t received any paper for permitting and providing refreshments late in the night. It can be done, if the Training and Placement Professor-in-charge contacts me or sends in an application of request to extend the timing. However it is to be understood that there is limited number of personnel in the guest house working all day and it isn’t fair to ask them to work overtime as the next day’s schedule will then get delayed.
MM: The refreshment timings of the guest house are at 6 which have a lot of gap from the lunch hour ending at 1:30 p.m. Can it be rescheduled to a former time as per the request of many HRs?
SJ: If the refreshment timings are to be changed to 5, then it can be done. However extension of timings isn’t possible as dinner has to be cooked by the same cooks and delay is not welcome.