A DDP PUBLICATION
Vol. X No. 5; May 2014
n An enduring place in this industry........................................................................04 n First boutique hotel launched in Sharjah ..............................................................06 n Central reservation system introduced ................................................................12
ME Tourism for expansion
A bigger, better travel platform
Middle East is opening doors to a spectrum of travel and tourism sectors throughout the region. New standards of luxury are being offered with the grand opening of hotels, lounges, airlines, airports, announcements of new development team, brand extension and expansion, etc.
Lama Group and Carfare recently announced the signing of an agreement to merge two premier services in the hospitality industry.
S U S M I TA G H O S H
Omer Kaddouri, President & CEO, Rotana Salalah Rotana Resort opens its doors as Oman’s largest free-standing hotel. We are excited to begin a new journey today as the first hotel to be operated by Rotana in Oman. This property is the 50th hotel to be operated by Rotana and represents the half-way mark in the hospitality group’s plans for 100 hotels by 2020. We pride ourselves in identifying new and upcoming travel destinations people wish to visit and Salalah is definitely growing in popularity.
Simon Hickey, CEO, Qantas International Qantas International has unveiled the new Hong Kong lounge. The new multi-million dollar lounge delivers on Qantas’ ongoing commitment, creating the best travel experiences for its customers. The new Hong Kong Lounge is a testament to our continued investment in the lounge and in-flight experiences right across our network. The opening of the Hong Kong Lounge demonstrates not only how the Qantas Group continues to invest where it matters most to its customers, but is also part of a broader commitment to Hong Kong as a key hub for the region. With the A-330 fleet upgrade to start by the end of this year, travellers in Hong Kong can look forward to the best in-class experience on flights to Australia.
Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, President & CEO, Millennium and Copthorne Middle East The Millennium and Copthorne Middle East and Africa (MEA) has announced that it will open 20 new hotels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is a part of the wider plan to operate 50 properties throughout the region by 2017. The market opportunity within the Kingdom has increased through growing domestic travel, a short supply of mid-scale hotels, five-star hotels in second-tier cities, especially for corporate travellers and the significant and sustained growth of religious tourism. In what has proved to be a highly successful year for Millennium and Copthorne properties throughout the MENA region, the hotel group witnessed impressive growth across its entire Middle East portfolio.
HRITVICK SEN he strategic move will create a combined company worth over Dhs365 million. Both entities will retain their brand names, but will operate under BK Group Holdings, and will offer complete travel and mobility solutions to more than 2.5 million customers of the group.
“The expansion of Dubai’s infrastructure in preparation for Expo 2020 has motivated us to take this step and invest for the future,” said Kulwant Singh, CEO and MD of the new group. He will share 50:50 ownership of the new entity. Talking about the merger, Singh said, “With this merger, we have grown more than ten times in size. This brings us a lot of infrastructure, a lot of raw material. Worth US$ 100 million, this makes us one of the largest travel companies in the region. Earlier, we had around 470 cars, now we'll have around 3,500 cars. We had
Kulwant Singh CEO and MD, LAMA Group
This merger has made us grow more than ten times. It also makes us one of the largest travel companies in the region around 20 luxury coaches and 50 limousines; we will now have 100 luxury coaches and 200 limousines, besides investing in another 200 chauffeur-driven limousines." Contd. on page 8
Opening doors for tourism sector u Contd. from page 1
Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO, HMH - Hospitality Management Holdings
Hatem Gasmi, Managing Director, Auris Group of Hotels, Dubai
Coral Muscat Hotel & Apartments on track to open by the third quarter of 2014. We are thrilled to see the on-site progress and expect the Coral sign to go up shortly. The hotel has been conceived to be a convenient and comfortable address for discerning business and leisure travellers offering an array of special amenities and privileges in a mixed-use complex. Coral Muscat Hotel & Apartments is a very significant project for HMH and signals strategic expansion for the group in Oman. The Omani government’s Vision 2020 plan aims to increase its room count to 20,000 rooms by 2015 and welcome 12 mn visitors annually by 2020, an increase well above 2,184,000 visitors in 2013.
Auris Group of Hotels, Dubai, which currently operates six properties in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, has registered a good start into 2014. The group has announced five properties scheduled to open between 2015 and 2017 in Dubai. This increases the units under the Auris brand to over 2,400. The consistent growth is intended to strategically position the group as an ideal industry concept in the MENA region. Our growth has necessitated an ongoing improvement process which has seen us split the brand into four categories; Auris Plaza Luxury Hotels which will encompass 5-star properties, Auris Inn will brand 4-star hotels, 3-star budget hotels will be grouped under Auris Lodge and Auris Apart will represent our hotel apartments and serviced residences.
Peter Blackburn, President & CEO, Cristal Hotels & Resorts, Abu Dhabi Cristal Hotels & Resorts Abu Dhabi under the Cristal Group will unveil its expansion strategy at ATM 2014. The group aims to triple its portfolio within two years, operating 13 hotels in the Middle East region by 2016 with a target of 50 properties within five years, thus doubling its previous goal of 25 hotels. In just five years since we opened our first hotel in Abu Dhabi, we now operate in four countries – the UAE, Iraq, Lebanon and the Comoros in the Indian Ocean, and will debut in Saudi Arabia next year with two hotels in Riyadh, followed by a third property opening in Damman in 2015. In addition to the two new hotels in Erbil, Iraq, a major addition to our portfolio is the 84-room Cristal Grand Kadri at Zahle, Lebanon, a historic landmark hotel located just 45 minutes from Beirut that offers 84 rooms and suites as well as an array of leisure and business facilities including a pool, spa and conference rooms.
Dr. Ali Kasapbashi, COO, Bin Majid Bin Majid Hotels and Resorts is scheduled to open its doors for new Santorini on RAK’s Marjan Island, the first man-made island project in Ras Al Khaimah, by the end of 2014. We have developed a hospitality legacy through our current brands, and much of that legacy was built upon continuing to expand and building a strong brand presence in the Emirates. With the new properties and upcoming ones in the pipeline, we will soon be recognised as a leading hotel and leisure company in the UAE and the region. The seven-story building comprises 410 stylish guest rooms as well as an array of facilities and amenities to enhance the luxury design hotel experience. This will be the fifth property Bin Majid owns in RAK, joining others like Beach Resort, Beach Hotel, Acacia Hotel and Mangrove Hotel. Santorini is an ideal vacation spot within Marjan Island. The hotel group currently has a total of about 1,020 rooms. Together, the planned new properties will take the tally to just under 2,000.
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
An enduring place in this industry Pioneered by A.A. Al Moosa Enterprises as the first hotel apartments in Dubai in 1989, The Golden Sands brand of hotel apartments fulfilled the need and demand of travellers looking for a ‘home-away-from-home’ environment. Hence, the concept of hotel apartments was created. s the leader in this category of accommodation, we enjoyed somewhat of a monopoly for a period of time. From the first building, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments (GSHA) has now grown into 10 buildings. Out of the 10 buildings, three are hotel apartments and the rest are residential yearly rentals. GS3, 5 & 10 with total 616 units offering fully furnished apartments
rant and poolside to offer great service and facilities to our guests. GSHA will have completed refurbishing all our apartments in Golden Sands 10 by the end of 2014.
year round. We have a good mix of guests who prefer Golden Sands over other properties because of our good location, great facilities and good value for money.
Scoring high We invite everyone to visit our stand at DTCM’s stand, UAE3210, Hall 3 where our sales and marketing team will connect with both our target market and potential markets. Ensuring that we maintain our customers loyal to the Golden Sands brand is always a key factor in securing year round business.
The GCC market is one of our strongest markets, especially the Saudi market which has a very good demand on hotel apartments. Travellers
Golden Sands plans to target niche markets that are developing in the region like cruise tourism, healthcare tourism and sports tourism and budget furnished apartments to a wide range of clientele – families, tourists, corporate clients, business and leisure travellers. The hotel apartments are conveniently located within the Mankhool – Bur Dubai area which is close to shopping, commercial and leisure districts, thereby offering convenience and comfort to both young and adult guests, all-
from Saudi often travel with their families, so Golden Sands Hotel Apartments is the perfect accommodation during their stay. We have different unit configurations to suit their needs. Also, since GSHA does not offer alcohol, this is an added attraction for Muslim visitors to Dubai. We are also witnessing the arrival of visitors from emerging markets such as
Australia and Latin America. After the recent partnership with Qantas and Emirates, we are receiving more Australians than before, and because our summer is their winter so they tend to travel during this season. The Indian sub-continent market, especially the Indian travellers, is a growing market. We have seen growth in demand from groups as well as FIT leisure travellers for both
stopovers as well as holidays. We also receive guests from India who come to visit family members living in Dubai. There has certainly been a dramatic growth in the hotel apartments sector both in supply and demand. As a result, some of Dubai’s major hospitality companies have developed their own apartment brands like Rotana’s Arjaan Hotel Apartments, proving that hotel apartments are also pop-
ular amongst other markets and demand in this sector is expected to continue to grow. Hence, in our continuing effort to serve our clients, we have refreshed the look of our two and three-bedroom apartments with some major refurbishment of furniture and fixtures. We are also now offering free WiFi to all our guests in all our rooms and apartments. We have made changes to the lobby, restau-
Mohammed Khoori General Manager Golden Sands Hotel Apartments
u Contd. from page 3
Emirates reducing flights for 80 days
Christophe Landais, Managing Director, Accor With around 3,600 hotels and 460,000 rooms, Accor welcomes business and leisure travellers in 92 countries across all hotel segments. With the planned opening of the first Ibis Styles in Dubai Dragon Mart, 7 Adagio properties in the pipeline and the successful opening of the first Majlis Grand Mercure in Madinah earlier this year, Accor proves its ability to innovate and come up with new brands/concepts to adapt to customer’s needs. Accor has 65 operational hotels in the Middle East with 15,600 rooms. With 28 upcoming properties in the pipeline, 12 of which will be opened this year mainly in UAE and KSA, Accor will reach its target of 100 hotels in the region by 2017.
Adel Erfan, General Manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Residence Makkah, Saudi Arabia
These changes will not impact customers booked to fly between May and July 2014, as the flight schedules have been planned and implemented months ahead of time. Customers or travel agents searching for flight options on Emirates will only see those flights that are available.
Mövenpick Hotel Makkah announces improvements in the hotel’s interiors and furnishings, and new services and perks. The extensive renovations are apparent the minute you walk into the expansive main lobby till you sit back in the fresh new sofas and furniture placed in the hotel. Along the corridors, a new colour scheme has been implemented and oriental paintings by upcoming artists have been placed, complementing the overall design and Middle Eastern influences of the hotel.
Publisher Director Editor Assistant Editor (ME) Desk Editor Design Business Development Manager Manager Advertising Sales & Admin Assistant Circulation Manager Manager Production
: SanJeet : Sumeera Bahl : Deepa Sethi : Susmita Ghosh : Archana Sharma : Nityanand Misra : Crisna De Guzman : Geetika Pathak : Eric Gomez : Ashok Rana : Anil Kharbanda
n Emirates Airline has announced that it has to reduce flights to over 40 destinations and change timings on some of its flights, during the 80 day period of runway upgrading works at the Dubai International Airport starting May 1, 2014. However, it will continue to serve all of its worldwide destinations.
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TRAVTALK is a publication of Durga Das Publications Private Limited. All information in TRAVTALK is derived from sources, which we consider reliable and a sincere effort is made to report accurate information. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. The publisher regret that he cannot accept liability for errors and omissions contained in this publication, however caused. Similarly, opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract and/or in interviews are not necessarily shared by TRAVTALK. However, we wish to advice our readers that one or more recognised authorities may hold different views than those reported. Material used in this publication is intended for information purpose only. Readers are advised to seek specific
Tim Clark President Emirates Airline
Emirates will ground 20 aircraft in May, 22 in June, and 22 in July, as Dubai Airports launch a comprehensive runway upgrade project which will see both runways at Dubai International close alternatively for resurfacing and other enhancement works.
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“As the biggest operator at Dubai International accounting for about 50 per cent of traffic, of course we have had to take the biggest hit in reducing flights. There will be an impact on our revenues to the tune of approximately AED 1 billion. However, we understand the need for this upgrading work to be done. It will add muchneeded capacity to the airport, and having world-class infrastructure ultimately means a better experience for customers. So we have to take the long-term view and manage the short term pain,” said Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline.
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Celebrating a partnership Honouring the travel trade As part of its partnership with Emirates, Qantas marked its first anniversary of services from Dubai to Australia and Dubai to London. Qantas has carried more than one million passengers through Dubai in a year. T T B U R E AU ubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently reported a 39 per cent increase in Australian
Simon Hickey CEO Qantas International
tourists visiting Dubai, attributed to the airlines’ partnership. This increase has meant higher tourist expenditure, help contributing to the hotel and hotel apartment operator revenues with DTCM confirming
an increase of 16.1 per cent year-on-year. “The customers had given the partnership a stamp of approval in its first year. The dedicated A-380 terminal has become very popular as the frequent flyer benefits are available under the partnership,” informed Simon Hickey, CEO Qantas International.
elled through Dubai and onwards to more than 65 destinations across the Middle East, North Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe, in last twelve months.
T T B U R E AU
The partnership has also opened up 32 destinations on the extensive Qantas domestic network, making travel to and within Australia easy for visitors from the Middle East. Together,
he celebratory evening recognised travel partners for their continual support and contribution. They not only drove the growth of passenger traffic from Kuwait, but also contributed 23.6 per cent increase in passenger traffic in 2013 across the airline's 105 countries network, compared to 2012.
Qantas and Emirates offer 98 flights every week to Dubai and onwards to more than 65 destinations in the ME, North Africa, the UK and Europe.
Sami Aydogan, General Manager for Turkish Airlines in Kuwait, informed, "We are happy to honour the travel industry for their continual support and contribution to the airline's robust expansion in Kuwait. It led to frequencies being doubled from Kuwait city in 2012 and the launch of the new route to Sabiha airport in Istanbul." "Our position as 'Europe's Best Airline,' increasing con-
“Since Qantas began flying through Dubai, there has been increased interest from Australians in Dubai as a holiday destination with travellers now staying on average between two and seven nights,” added Hickey. Australian travellers are also reaping the benefits of the partnership with more than one million passengers having trav-
Turkish Airlines witnessed 35% increase in passenger traffic from Kuwait in 2013 as compared to 2012. It celebrates its 80th year of operations, and hosted a gala dinner event to honor travel agents in Kuwait.
nectivity, enhancing services and growing the popularity of Turkey as a holiday and business destination continue to attract more travellers from Kuwait," he added.
Tours & Travel Co, all in Kuwait. In line with the airline's global expansion and recently launched 'Widen Your World'
We are happy to honour the travel industry for their continual support and contribution to the airline's robust expansion in Kuwait Sami Aydogan General Manager, Turkish Airlines in Kuwait In addition to plaques of appreciation, three specific sales achievements were awarded, with 'Best in Sales,' presented to Alshamel Travel & Tourism, 'Best Business Class Sales,' presented to Barakat Travel Co. And 'Best beyond Turkey Sales,' presented to Jumbo
campaign, Turkish Airlines added 20 new destinations in 2013 and carried a total of 48.3 million passengers. In ATM 2014, the global carrier will highlight the upcoming campaigns including 'Ramadan in Istanbul' promotion.
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
‘Agents help us to grow’ 100 hotels ready by 2020 Opened five months before, Hawthorne Suites by the Rotana Hotel Management Group largely operates in the Wyndham Hotel group is participating ATM 2014 under Middle East and Africa with present portfolio of 85 the Wyndham Hotel Group Stand to interact and look properties in 26 cities spread across five sub brands. forward to the market. S U S M I TA G H O S H T T B U R E AU he group, while marketing the property as an extended stay business hotel, never-
Indian sub-continent, Far East, Middle East and rest of the world. As regards to the role of travel agents in their business, Wael El Behi, General Manager of the Hawthorn Suites, informs, “Travel agents will definitely represent a good
rating from 3 stars to 4, a process expected to get completed within a month. The long-term goal for the Group corresponds with its strategy for the World Expo 2020 and beyond, starting
We have a prominent and a visible location to properly showcase our hotel product before, during and after the Expo 2020. Wael El Behi General Manager Hawthorn Suites
theless expects 80 per cent of its business to be of travel for leisure, and the other 20 per cent to represent travel for business. In terms of market diversity, GCC, CIS and Central Europe are highlighted as key feeder markets followed by
share of our business and, for the first quarter of 2014, they represent 21 per cent of our business mix against 33 per cent budgeted for this year.” The immediate shortterm focus for the Hawthorne Suites is to gain DTCM approval to upgrade the hotel
with the hotel launching its own state-of-the-art spa, saloon and specialty restaurant. El Behi added, “We are having a prominent and visible location which should be considered as a platform for us to showcase our hotel product before, during and after Expo 2020.”
egarding business in the first quarter of 2014, the Group has reported a growth across all its markets except Syria and Beirut where political instability makes such gain implausible.
With regard to the participation in Arabian Travel Market 2014, Guy Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer, Rotana Hotel Management Company, informed, “We are not doing something remarkably distinct for ATM 2014 if compared to previous one. The group has six property openings in 2014 and wishes to use ATM as a platform to advertise its brand and connect with the partners - new and old.” But ITB Berlin 2014 was different as Rotana was in destination stand before and it was the first year in ITB 2014 that Rotana represented as a com-
pany that took a brand name. It has announced the opening of Salalah Rotana Resort, the first five-star property in Salalah Beach, Oman. The property is the largest free standing hotel in Oman and
opening new hotels but also expanding in new countries, like opening of the hotel groups properties in Oman, Afghanistan and Turkey. When asked about the role travel agencies play in bringing business to the company, Hutchinson informed,
“The travel trade is extremely important for us as they are our partners and have a lot of value. Guy Hutchinson Chief Operating Officer Rotana Hotel Management Company
boasts 400 rooms and suites. It’s the 50th hotel to be operated by Rotana and represents a halfway mark for the group’s goal of 100 hotels by 2020. Expanding its global presence, Rotana is not only
They represent in multiple segments. In certain destinations like resorts in Salalah, RAK and Fujairah, the travel trade is dominant and thus constitutes a vital part in our year-by-year strategy.” Hutchinson stated that besides the previously stated goal of 100 hotels by 2020, the group will also add new infrastructure and related accompaniments between now and 2018.
First boutique hotel launched in Sharjah Hotel ‘72 By Hues’ is an attractive addition to Sharjah’s hotel industry. Dedicated to business and leisure travellers in the Emirate, it is the first boutique hotel and offers view of Khalid Lagoon and Buheirah Corniche. T T B U R E AU istinctly designed, ‘72 By Hues’ continues a tradition of contemporary architecture and smart luxury design that HUES Hotels are famous for.
H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, has underscored the importance of public-private sector partner-
Remarkable developments and a paradigm shift in hospitality has been witnessed in the Emirate in recent years
ship in tourism sector. He said, “Such partnership has already contributed to the development of quality tourism products of Sharjah, strengthening its position as a pioneering and distinguished tourist destination in the region.” Al Noman said that ‘72 By Hues’ is a welcome addition to Sharjah that has seen a number of hotels and tourism projects launched recently.
Mohamed Ali Al Noman Chairman Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority
The hotel boasts restaurants like Equation that offers private dining and
authentic Arabic and international cuisine and coffee shop Quadrant. “This is in tune with the growing number of tourist arrivals in the Emirate and special events and activities hosted throughout the year in Sharjah. While the hotel occupancy rate shot up above 70 per cent in the first quarter of this year, it had crossed more than 90 per cent during special
events like the Sharjah Light Festival,” expressed Al Noman. “Remarkable developments and a paradigm shift in hospitality has been witnessed in the Emirate in recent years. A number of new hospitality projects are part of the Emirate’s strategic plan and vision for the industry and will be announced in the next phase of development,” noted Al Noman.
A perfect TIME for showcasing
At the centre of luxury hospitality
A major part of the TIME hotel group strategy is its visibility. Thus, the group has been regular in its participation in every edition of the Arabian Travel Market The Marjan Island Resort and Spa is set to become the unequivocal centre symposium, ever since the hotel group’s inception. of luxury hospitality in the Emirate of Surprises as part of their Capital Hotel Apartments has T T B U R E AU Ras Al Khaimah. tourism vision strategy which been handed over in March ohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels, elaborated “Arabian Travel Market is the perfect platform to showcase our existing and upcoming property portfolio to regional and international buyers. We always generate solid leads and strengthen our existing partnerships. I believe this year’s ATM will be larger than ever before, and promote more business for the entire UAE.”
2014. The nine-storey, 144room TIME Rako Hotel will be launched in Doha in mid-2015.
Moving on to the launch of new upcoming services and properties, the group has added four new locations to its regional portfolio with additional properties planned for Luxor, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Ajman to be developed over the next 18 months. In Luxor, the hotel group is managing the 154-room TIME Tut Hotel. In Abu Dhabi, the TIME hotel group is to
Mohamed Awadalla CEO TIME Hotels
Arabian Travel Market is the perfect platform to showcase our existing and upcoming portfolio to buyers launch the 42-storey Al Jawhara in 2015. In Downtown Ajman, the 120-unit TIME
By 2015, the TIME portfolio will expand to encompass three countries with 11 properties. To support such an expansion, the group has moved to new offices in the Garhoud area of Dubai, close to Dubai International Airport and has also opened a regional office in Cairo. On the comparative performance of the group over 2012-14, Awadalla informed, “Our financial performance in 2013 exceeded our results than 2012. Also, 2014 will be our best year till date. This has been made possible by the tremendous efforts from the Dubai Government, continually enhancing key events like the Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer
increases visitors to the Emirates year-on-year.”
T T B U R E AU
The travel agents, Awadalla asserted, have played a vital role in this steady growth of business and he sees no reason for this to change in the future.
The group’s plans for the World Expo 2020 have already started working to expand its portfolio to capitalise on the demand the World Expo is expected to bring.
“There will be intense focus on our newlyopened resort with its various facilities and attractions for our customers.”
On The Cards N In Luxor, it is managing
the 154-room TIME Tut Hotel. N In Abu Dhabi, TIME is
to launch the 42-storey Al Jawhara in 2015.
s far as product and service launches go, the resort primarily looks to bring focus on itself in 2014. Khalid Motik, Executive Assistant Manager, Marjan Island Resort and Spa, explained,
The resort has 301 room and suites with 8 restaurants. Being a new property, the resort is relying heavily on travel agents to push their brand name to national and
Khalid Motik Executive Assistant Manager Marjan Island Resort and Spa
international markets and working on various strategies for the same particularly in FAM trips, press trips and orientation programs. Motik informs, “World Expo 2020 is a golden opportunity for every single property within UAE to do great business during that period.”
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
Expansion spree on track Topping expectations The 2014 iteration of the ATM is set to be the first in which Karbala Rayhaan by Rotana, the first 5-star hotel to the Gloria Hotels & Resorts will take part as exhibitors open in Karbala, Iraq, announced that occupancy under their own stand. figures topped expectations during its first few months of operations. Expo 2020 approaches, there will be high demands and expectations by the exhibitors that we have to look after. We will have to develop packages to suit the inquiries of the exhibitors in the most convenient way.
T T B U R E AU s far as upcoming products and service launches are concerned, the group is planning to launch multiple properties across Cairo, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iraq in the coming years. They will also be opening the 156-unit Gloria Downtown hotel in the last quarter of 2014 in Abu Dhabi.
Regarding travel agents and their role, Freddy Farid, Area General Manager, Gloria Hotels and Resorts informed, “Travel trade have helped us in generating more than 35 per cent of our total business in 2013. We are expecting to retain the same share in 2014 and improve our industry relations.” “If we compare our business and occupancy level from 2012 to 2014, we have
Freddy Farid Area General Manager Gloria Hotels and Resorts
seen a 12 per cent rise in the occupancy and 8 per cent in RevPAR,” he added. The hotel group had a financially fortuitous 2013 with the retention of their GCC, CIS, Asian and European clientele as well as expansion into newer South American and African markets. With regards to World Expo 2020 and group’s action plan for same, Farid stated, “As
the the the the
We plan to renovate our Executive floors and upgrade our convention centre facilities to match exhibitors’ expectations.” In addition, the group also plans to provide marketing and support to Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing for the promotion of the World Expo. The hospitality group plans to provide 5-star business services at a 4-star price point.
T T B U R E AU he hotel, which is situated in one of Iraq’s most visited cities, opened in November 2013 and announced 64 per cent occupancy in Q1 2014.
“Occupancy has exceeded our initial projections, with our largest guest segment coming from domestic Iraqi guests and Kuwait. The healthy figures bode very well for the upcoming quarters which we anticipate to be busy, with key religious travel seasons such as the Holy Month of Ramadan, Arafa, Eid Al Ghadeen and Arbeeneya,” said Nader Mobader, General Manager. The hotel, Rotana’s second in Iraq following Erbil, has succeeded in quickly establishing itself as the superior hospi-
tality option in a city lacking 5star accommodation. “Our guest profile is a mix of tourists and pilgrims and we have had an encouraging start,” added Mobader.
“We expect to further consolidate our performance as the year progresses with a focus on promoting out superior services and facilities.” The 14-storey hotel features 185 rooms and suites, designed in a contemporary style, complete with highspeed wireless internet, inroom entertainment with multichannel satellite television, complimentary coffee and tea facilities and IDD telephone
and voicemail. The hotel boasts three excellent restaurants, a fully-equipped meeting room and a state-of-the-art Bodylines Leisure and Fitness Club with massage rooms, Turkish Bath, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi. In addition, the hotel presents guests with excellent connectivity options, being accessible from both Najaf Airport (80km) and Baghdad Airport (130km).
Consolidate and conquer u Contd. from page 1
He continued that with the merger, their offices in UAE will increase from six to 40. "With the new merger, we will be investing in more resources, more verticals, and will be starting the new LAMA Visa Express service centres.” “Both our companies have witnessed high growth and success over the years, so it made sense to combine our strengths. We will be able to significantly broaden our reach in the UAE, and continue to take substantial market share from existing competitors. This merger gives us the advantage to create a truly global company, a market leader in providing complete travelling solutions for both individual and corporate clients,” said Jasbir Bassi, MD of both the Groups.
This merger gives us an advantage to create a truly global company, a market leader in providing complete travelling solutions for both individual and corporate clients Jasbir Bassi, MD, LAMA and CarFare
The merger will allow the companies to diversify growth opportunities while continuing to invest in its current business. Nearly Dh50million will be invested in infrastructure projects in the next six months to supply the demand that will be generated after the merger. The expansive network and diversified portfolio of products and services of the combined organisations will strengthen the company’s ability to serve a large number of resident customers and arrivals from India, the GCC and other markets.
Both companies will exhibit at this year’s Arabian Travel Market to inform business partners about the merger and seek potential clientele. The company will have 650 employees working across a network of 14 branches in the UAE and nine abroad. BK Group Holdings Co., will expand both companies operations into a new head office in Dubai Investment Park, spread over nearly 40,000sq ft.
Fiji and Etihad sign interline agreement n Fiji Airways and Etihad Airways announced a new and far reaching interline agreement between the two carriers. This agreement will allow reciprocal sales from and to 12 cities in Europe, 17 cities in the
Middle East, five cities in Africa, five cities in North America, 29 cities in Asia and three cities in Australia to and from Fiji. The agreement comes into place with immediate effect and is the starting point of further
negotiations between the two airlines. Etihad Airways joins Fiji Airways' list of code-share or interline partners, which includes American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Air New Zealand.
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
Profitable year for Middle East LCCs Despite some localised unrest, overall market conditions in the Middle East have been beneficial for low-cost carriers in H2 of 2013.The region’s point-to-point market is seeing significant pick-up in passenger demand this year. T T B U R E AU
Carriers Organisation reports that international traffic within the Arab world has sustained double-digit growth rates over the first half in 2013, after an uneven end to 2012. The
incomes and an increasing propensity to travel. Regional tourism markets are also expanding, benefiting from the heavy investment by regional governments over the past decade. The Arab Air
il prices have stabilised, local economies are growing and regional travel & tourism is expanding thanks to expanding
ÀMiddle East LCC seats to/from and within the region 25,000,000 20,000,000 15,000,000 10,000,000 5,000,000
n To/from Middle East
n Within Middle East
ÀSelected Middle East countries by LCC penetration
The low-cos tm instrumenta odel has been l in pioneerin g new routes into E as Central Asia, tern Europe, Southern Asi Africa. How a and ev penetration er, low-cost carrier in limited, acco the market remains un approximatel ting for y offered in th 13.5% of all seats e region.
(domestic and/or international markets)
20% 18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0%
n International With demand outgr ow load factors and yie ing supply, lds have been rising in the regio n. This led IATA to revise its 2013 pr ofit outlook for the region’s airlines to US well up from the US D1.5 billion, D900 million profit recorded in 2012. Profit margins in the region are expected to be around 3.5%.
ÀArab world passenger traffic growth 2012 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10% -20% -30% -40% -50%
n Arab World-Within (International) n Arab World-Outside Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation & OAG
growing. A few nations are beginning to heed the lessons from other developing markets such as Asia and South America where LCCs have been the major engine for traffic growth.
The Middle Eas cost airlines t has become increasi ng to established extract profits. The low ly fertile ground for low in the Middl -cost model e East. is now well In a decade , th cent of intern e low-cost market has go at cent of seat ional seats offered to/fr ne from zero to 9.4 per s within the om the region region. and 15.8 pe r However, de spite the su ccess of the East lags be LC hi of the matur nd when compared to th Cs in the region, the Mid ity of its LCC e rest of the dle w m LCCs have around 30 pe arket. In Europe and N orld, in terms orth America, r cent; in Asi per cent. a-Pacific it is approaching 50 There are a number of co untries in th penetration, eM pr liberalise an ovided the governmen iddle East ripe for LCC ts in the regi d su on intensified lo bject their state-owne d national ca are willing to cal competit ion. rriers to
Middle East market is due for greater LCC development. With young populations, a high level of personal mobility and growing disposable income, the propensity to travel within the Middle East is
À Middle East regional routes and LCC market share: week to 08-Aug-2013
14 Abu Dhabi-Bahrain 21,594
Of launches and offerings Spreading out its wings Participating in ATM 2014 under the group of Millennium The Xclusive Group of hotels markets its properties as Copthorne Hotels and Resorts, Millennium Plaza Hotel an experience that combines the familiarity and comfort Dubai expects a good feedback for their participation. of home with the service of a contemporary luxury hotel. constantly works on increasing corporate clientele to as many companies from various sectors, opening their offices in Dubai due to the thriving business.
T T B U R E AU he hotel plans to re-launch its authentic Emirati cuisine restaurant, Al Mashrbia. Multiple F&B promotions can be held across the outlets like business lunch at the Atrium café and the family and friends’ barbeque lunch by the pool.
Regarding the hotel’s performance in 2012 through 2014, Daniel Mathew, General Manager, Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai, informed, “I believe that our hotel, along with others, have definitely increased occupancy rates from 2012 to 2014. The announcement of Expo 2020 along with the various other exhibitions taking place in Dubai has driven more business into the hotel.” The hotel credits a significant part from individual travellers to groups. The travel agents provide a substantial amount of business from the leisure sector. They also promote the product within
Daniel Mathew General Manager Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai
We are trying to increase our corporate clientele by launching initiatives, meetings, events and packages the country and internationally, creating further promotional reaches for the brand. The hotel
Among others, the hotel outlined the plans to capitalise on the World Expo 2020. On the effect of hospitality industry, in general, and the hotel in specific, Mathew elucidated, “We are constantly on the move trying to increase our corporate clientele by launching initiatives, meetings and events as well as promoting our room packages to attract both business and leisure clientele, based both locally and within the region.” Ever since the bid for Expo 2020 was won, many hotels and leisure attractions have started their plans of expansion within the country. This creates healthy competition within the industry, which means, all hotels need to work hard to stay ahead.
T T B U R E AU he group which added two more properties to its portfolio in 2013, Xclusive Casa Hotel Apartments and Xclusive Clover Hotel Apartments, is looking ahead to add two more by 2015. In regards to Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2014, Nishchay Dheer, Group General Manager Xclusive Group of Hotels, Dubai asserted that the event is central to tourism industry in the UAE and the Middle East. It allows interaction between various travel trade partners from across the globe; helping promote UAE as a prestigious destination for travellers from worldwide. Hence, the group which only visited the event in 2013 is set to take the role of exhibitors in the 2014 symposium.
“Xclusive Group of Hotels has enjoyed a fair share
in the market throughout 2013 by maintaining an average occupancy of 87 per cent which is quite similar to 2012. However, a growth on daily average rate has been seen
Nishchay Dheer Group General Manager Xclusive Group of Hotels, Dubai
overall in comparison to 2012. So far, 2014 has been better in comparison to 2013 not only in occupancy levels but also in achieving better daily average rates,” informed Dheer. As regards to the role of travel agents in bringing busi-
ness to their brand, the Xclusive Group attests 7 per cent growth in 2013 in comparison to 2012. 2014 is also witnessing a similar growth attributable to travel agents and agencies.
The Group continuously encourages all the travel trade partners to enhance their business by various methods. It includes familiarisation trips by foreign travel agents, staying in touch with all the local agents based in Dubai. Based on the World Expo 2020 bid and its effect on future strategy, the group welcomes the taxing demand which this event brings in its lead up.
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
Record flights at Abu Dhabi Int’l Airport n Six new destinations and 71 extra flights a week to India are the highlights of Abu Dhabi International Airport's summer 2014 flying schedule for air travellers, the busiest in its history. The number of weekly flights available for business travellers and holiday makers has increased by 18 per cent compared to last year's summer from 1,052 to 1,242. New routes include non-stop flights from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles in the USA, Zurich in Switzerland, Belgrade in Serbia, Perth in Australia, Jaipur in India and Yerevan in Armenia. Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore will each witness 14 extra flights a week from Abu Dhabi the greatest growth in the Indian market. There will be 10 new services to Mumbai, eight to Cochin and seven to Delhi on a weekly basis. The new route to Jaipur operated by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways will operate once a day.
Central reservation system introduced Owned and managed by Golden Tulip and Golden Tulip Louvre Hotel Group worldwide, a central reservation system ‘GoldRes’ has been introduced in April 2014. Its reservation network is connected to more than one million points around the globe, to airlines system and major travel agencies. Al Barsha makes benefit from all type of travellers and suitable destination to mix both business and leisure. “We are witnessing a high demand from the first quarter of 2014 and we are glad to work in such successful creative country under the flagship of leaders that cares about the success of their country and push for better tomorrow and support for better today,” he stated.
S U S M I TA G H O S H t’s a very important tool for the hotels as it’s more efficient, user-friendly and appealing to the end user, hence can drive good volume of business in this region.
When questioned on the role travel agents play in attracting potential revenue for the group, Amine E Moukarzel, President Golden Tulip Hotels, informed, “The travel trade is the most important aspect for our hotel business. There should be a support and understanding between the supplier and the provider. I think there should be a more comprehensive, end respect approach for each other to work together, better deal with and to better serve the customers and not to go for a lower product and sell the traveller to come to a hotel. But rather to perceive a product for the value for money that’s
Amine E Moukarzel, President Golden Tulip Hotels and Tarek Lotfy, Regional Director of Revenue Golden Tulip Hotels.
offered to ensure that future business is generated between travel agents and third party providers.” “Travel agency business generates up to 28-34 per cent of our all-in-all business in 2013. We expected to jump between 35-42 per cent in 2015 with the increase of the attractions in the UAE and the security, peaceful atmosphere
of business and economy environments that the country is witnessing. In addition to the winning of the Expo 2020, the preparation will also boost more business to the country and more interest for the travellers,” expressed Tarek Lotfy, Regional Director of Revenue Golden Tulip Hotels. According to Lotfy, the ideal location of Golden Tulip
The guests pour in from all over the world preferably Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq), N Africa, Europe and Saudi Arabia as the Group has existence of nearly 30 hotels there and also from GCC countries. Discussing the future plans, Moukarzel expressed, “Most important to us is to maintain our relationship with our owners, enhancing deliverables to our hotels. This will
give us long-term relation and strengthen our plans to develop new hotels.” “Especially it’s a positive market where positive economy exists and where we should have better yielding to our properties that will reflect in our employees like salary reviews bonuses and also healthy profitability to the owners,” he added. Golden Tulip is a well-known international brand in hotel business for 52 years, 8th largest hotel group in the world and 2nd in Europe.
Future Plans N To
maintain relationships with the owners N Enhancing deliverables to their hotels N To strengthen their plans to develop new hotels
TRAVTALK MAY 2014
4-star services in 3-stars Upgrading for EXPO 2020 In ATM 2014, Five Continents will come up with the concept Living up to their motto ‘Assuring Comfort’, Grand Midwest of budget hotels, Hansa Hotels, with an option of 4-star Tower Hotel in Dubai announced major renovation and services available in 3-star hotels. modernisation plans to provide enhanced services. S U S M I TA G H O S H ive Continents Hotels & Resorts sees the majority of its business from Germany, CIS market, East Europe, Latin America and GCC countries. It has seen a steady increase in occupancy over the past 3 years tuned to 25 per cent in 2013 over 2012 and a projected gain of 32 per cent in 2014, started with 22 per cent in Q1 2014, anticipate increase of 7 per cent in Q2 2014. The Group will inaugurate 7 projects from Mamzar till Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.
“The hotel prides itself on being adaptive, delivering exactly what the guest requires, be it business or leisure, the hotel strives to deliver in the most impressive yet understated fashion,” asserted Elia Timani, Managing Director & CBDO, President of Sales and Marketing Five Continents Hotels and Resorts & Hansa Hotels. When asked about the
Elia Timani MD & CBDO, President of Sales and Marketing Five Continents Hotels and Resorts & Hansa Hotels
Despite the rise of online bookings, travel agents and classic tour operators dominate the majority of the business
role of travel agencies in these gains, Timani informed “Despite the rise of online bookings and such, travel agents and classic tour operators dominate the majority of the business. Hence, Five Continents group plans to pursue a transparent and strong partnership with classical tour operator and travel agencies by protecting their interests and help maintaining their upper hand.”
T T B U R E AU part from renovating the front lobby, reception and check-in counters, there will be an addition of a signature restaurant offering specialty cuisine, high capacity ballroom, pool lounge at the recreation area, ATM machines and a gift shop at lobby level that will cater the hotel’s diverse
“Our selected travel trade partners put our hotel company at the advantage edge compared to our respectful, classical competitors from the hotel management companies. We have received business increase more than 17 per cent from travel trade in 2013 over 2012,” he added. Discussing on the establishment elsewhere, Timani informed that they have a branch office in Berlin, Zurich, UK and Belgium, all existing and operational.
portfolio of guests. The whole new look will be ready to welcome its guests by October 2014. Nadia Shah, General Manager of Grand Midwest Group, said, “We are committed to offer excellence beyond what a four-star hotel can offer. The renovation plan reaffirms our competitive position in the market and makes us well prepared in time to welcome the EXPO 2020 tourism rush.” A new team of professionals in marketing and sales division has been appointed ensuring the brand is well perceived with the stakeholders and within the industry. To ensure guests an enhanced dining experience, the hotel has also appointed an experienced chef who will dish out array of cuisines under the
Nadia Shah General Manager, Grand Midwest Group
same roof at its international all day dining restaurant. The prestigious interior designing firm Frances Studio from Ireland has been appointed to undertake the re-designing project. Sculptural glass features designed and manufactured by Frances Studio’s will be significant component adding to the aesthetic value of the new look and harmonizing with it, the brand will make strategic image changes through a streamlined color theme across its properties.
Clearing the skies for UAE carriers In February, India and Dubai agreed to liberalise their bilateral air services agreement, increasing weekly seat entitlements for each side by 20%. This makes the UAE the largest market for India, far above the UK, Germany, Singapore and Thailand, according to a recent CAPA report. T T B U R E AU mirates Airlines currently operates to 10 Indian cities, while flyDubai operates to three, with Ahmedabad and Hyderabad common to both carriers’ networks. The additional 11,000 weekly seats would allow Emirates to introduce A-380s on the majority of its five daily services to Mumbai and four daily services to Delhi, currently operated by A330/A340/777 aircraft. Some of the entitlements may also be allocated to flyDubai to open additional points of call in India. The current 55,000 weekly seat entitlements for each side by approximately 20 per cent on a staged basis over the next 13 months.
The first tranche of 5,500 additional seats available from the upcoming summer 2014 schedule would allow Emirates to ramp up to four daily departures from Delhi and/or
over 160,000 seats available to them. In addition, the majority of the Indian bilateral entitlements to Abu Dhabi are expected to be utilised by Jet Airways operating a coordinated network and schedule with Etihad. As a result the number of weekly seats feeding hubs in the UAE is likely to be closer to 170,000-175,000.
N The current 55,000 weekly seat entitlements for each side by approximately 20 per cent on a staged basis over the next 13 months
N This increase is almost as much as all European countries combined, which have just over 160,000 seats available to them.
Mumbai. Permission to operate the A-380 on Indian routes is timely for Emirates, which will face temporary slot constraints at Dubai Airport between May-2014 and July2014 due to runway upgrades.
expanded bilateral agreements that India has signed with Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the past 12 months, weekly entitlements for UAE carriers will increase to over 135,000 seats by 2015/16.
India has separate bilaterals with different emirates of the UAE. As a result of the
Including the points of call available to Indian carriers from which Jet Airways will be
able to operate to Abu Dhabi, hubs in the UAE can be fed from 26 points in India. This represents a massive increase from the 10,400 seats available to six cities in 2003/04. And it dwarfs the access offered to any single other country; it is almost as much as all European countries combined, which have just
Indian LCCs are currently averaging load factors in the range of 70-75 per cent on routes to Dubai and are not faced with an urgent need to further expand capacity. And indeed the viability of services from Delhi and Mumbai may come under further pressure as a result of competition from Emirates A380s on these routes. However, SpiceJet reportedly submitted a plan seeking an additional 12,000
weekly seats to Dubai, 10,000 seats to Abu Dhabi and 22,000-24,000 seats to Doha - although it has yet not fully utilised the seats to Dubai allocated to it previously. The proposed growth in operations to these three points alone is almost three times the size of SpiceJet’s total international seat capacity at present.
At Present N Emirates
Airlines currently operates to 10 Indian cities N flyDubai operates to three, with Ahmedabad and Hyderabad common to both N The first tranche of 5,500 additional seats available from the upcoming summer 2014 schedule would allow Emirates to ramp up to four daily departures from Delhi and/or Mumbai