Page 1

GLOBAL HOTEL INDEX: Asia Pacific 64.4%/ $123.87 - Americas 56.3%/ $113.57 - Europe 56.6%/ $131.74 - MEA 64.4% / $182.33 (Current ccupancy %/ADR$, STR Global 2014)

INSIDE INVESTMENTS Samaya International, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and   and market outlooks



   keep section

 !  "   #&'* emirate’s development

GM PROFILE +   9;  <=> "

ROUNDTABLE ' "" ?"@   "

The Art of Appreciation In her first interview to the UAE media, Debbie Marriott Harrison reveals the secrets behind Marriott Internationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s industry leading retention rate, millennial engagement and the importance of storytelling





NEWS & DATA 04. Editorial board

42. Twin tactics

06. News

Elie Milky on Rezidor Hotel Groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new brands and plans for Iran and The Palm

09. Data

46. Action Hotels

18. DTCM news

Snapshot of the Kuwaiti developerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pipeline


48. Beating the boom

20. Agency recruitment Discussing the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting via agency

26. IT security The latest tips and tricks to secure your operational and guest networks

28. Supplies & Services 33. Supplier Spotlight HBA Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newest associate, Martin Farrow on the age of interior design

35. Event roundup The news from the latest Housekeepers Group event

INDUSTRY 36. The Big Project Samaya International CEO Ali Al Hosani,          hospitality brand beyond the UAE

40. AHIC Preview Pre-show highlights for 2014

HMHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new brand and 25% expansion

52. Masterminding RAK The plans to create a premier leisure destination in the Northern Emirate

56. The art of appreciation Debbie Marriott Harrison on the secrets of happy associates

62. Roundtable Debating hospitality interior design and project budgets

69. Trend talk Comment from Charles Leon, Eric Rogers, David Cook and Karyn Williams Sykes

76. Remote Resorts The tips and challenges for taking the helm at the most isolated resorts

82. Room with a view       

86. Open for business        Movenpick, JLT

MAY 2014






SARAH MOTWALI D: +971 04 440 9113 M: +971 (0) 50 678 6182




GEORGINA Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;HARA




JULIE CAULTON Email: D: +971 04 440 9112 M: +971 (0) 56 778 9793







Printwell Printing Press LLC, Dubai, UAE

SOPHIE MCCARRICK D: +971 04 440 9150






      Dubai, UAE D: +971 4 440 9100    

!"  #  $%& A publication licensed by IMPZ © Copyright 2014 CPI. All rights reserved.

In association with...

MAY 2014

EDITORâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S LETTER



n March of this year, 100 of                    summit to enhance the common ground between the public and private sectors. You may have read the media reports of a â&#x20AC;&#x153;courting of the aristocracyâ&#x20AC;? or a gathering of young people looking for a purpose to champion based on charitable zeitgeistâ&#x20AC;Ś. Suspend the reservations. Rightly, the concept of such meetings

         important ideas emerged from behind those partially closed doors. The event was initiated by the White House Office of Science and Technology           â&#x20AC;&#x201C; alongside investment bankers and industrialists â&#x20AC;&#x201C; some of hospitalityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest global names; from Hilton and Hyatt to Carlson and Marriott. Their concerns? Climate change, trafficking, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ethicalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; business. The sentiment was CSR but it reached far beyond the token efforts seen    

    !" itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a personal mission from the top of the biggest organisations in the industry. It leaves one wondering what the top down effect of their actions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; should

they one day be acted upon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; could have on business 20 years from now. Unlike government, business appears to be ever more accountable to its clients and guests and is becoming a driving force in affecting change. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the age of CSR 2.0 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the evolution from corporate and charitable work, to drives with the power to transform. A 10 step forecast from the member

# $%" &     years, todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sustainable business     ' 

  partnerships will form the backbone of CSR work; the private sector will be solving social ills. This month, thousands of our peers, colleagues and superiors will gather in the UAE to meet each other, their business partners and the press. Their discussions will no doubt cover the innovation of technology,        

         considering the meeting agendas we are seeing elsewhere, we could take this opportunity to spark some much more meaningful conversations.


MAY 2014




THE INDUSTRY EXPERTS SHAPING YOUR MAGAZINE Hospitality Business magazineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top industry contacts who assist in guiding the direction of the magazine to create the most relevant content possible

Christopher Hartley CEO, Global Hotel Alliance Chris Hartley is CEO of Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), an organisation based on a business model similar to that of the airline alliances. Chris was one of the pioneers behind the launch of GHA in 2004, and since 2006 he has overseen its development into the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. Today GHA has 23 member brands and over 420 hotels in 63 countries.

Mark Fraser Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing Mark Fraser is Managing Partner of Taylor Wessing (Middle East) LLP and head of its construction and dispute resolution practices. Mark has advised on a range of development and infrastructure projects in the Middle East, Asia and Europe covering the hotel and entertainment, transportation and energy sectors.

Karyn Williams-Sykes Director of Professional Training and Development, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management In the past six years in professional training and development, Williams-Sykes has designed, developed and delivered a wide range of soft skills training to many organisations, both within and beyond the hospitality industry and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester.

Tatjana Ahmed Chair and founding member, UAE Professional Housekeepers Group and executive housekeeper Grand Hyatt Dubai Tatjana Ahmed is a member of the Council of Experts for Hyatt International, assisting hotels in the South/West Asia region during the pre-opening stage to set up the Housekeeping Department and implement brand and procedural standards. An award winning housekeeper, Ahmed is the founding member of the UAE Professional Housekeepers Group.

Martin Kubler Founder, Iconsulthotels FZE Martin Kubler is a hotel GM turned hospitality and service industries consultant with more than 15 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; executive-level management experience in 3-,4-, and 5-star hotels in Europe and the Middle East. Martin runs Iconsulthotels FZE, an ultra            in assisting small and medium hospitality and service industries companies and international hospitality and service industries professionals.

Fabian Schmittmann President, AICR Dubai Section Fabian Schmittmann leads the Association          

   Managers of 4- and 5-star hotels. Founded in 1964 it has developed into an international fellowship with sections in 18

  ! "     #$%  founded in 2005 and has grown to become  &    ' *   % Division Executives working and living in the city. Schmittmann is also Director of Front         + "

MAY 2014

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1 / Iran could double Rezidor

regional operations

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3 / Abu Dhabi MICE sector could

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MAY 2014




4 / FRHI to expand 50% by 2020



5 / Hyatt’s Beveridge awarded

Pritzker for leadership



6 / MSc for regional hoteliers



MAY 2014


Pull and tear here

IN FIGURES The amount by which HMH will increase business in 2014, pg 48

Value of investment in Samaya Internationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new venture, pg 36

Revenue loss experienced by Greek hoteliers in Athens on rooms business alone, pg 16

Dubai average year-end RevPAR, 2013, pg 40

Delegates visited Dubai from Nu Skin Enterprises China, the largest incentive group to date, pg 18

Daily footfall in JLT, home to the new MĂśvenpick, according to developers DMCC, pg 86

Growth in RAK visitor numbers in 2013, pg 52

The number of jobs a typical Millennial will have in their first 10 years in industry, pg 56

Rooms at the new Sofitel Downtown, pg 82

Pipeline of developers Action Hotels, across multiple brands, pg 46

Cost per key to develop an average 4-star resort, pg 42

Average RevPAR across Jeddah, February 2014, STR Global, pg 11

MAY 2014




STR GLOBAL: CITY SNAPSHOT Preliminary March 2014 data, with commentary from STR Global MD, Elizabeth Winkle LONDON


Supply increase: +1.1% Demand: +1.9% Occupancy: +0.8% to 79.9% ADR: +7.7% to $221 RevPAR: +8.6% $177 “London closed a positive first quarter by posting the highest RevPAR levels of any March since STR Global began tracking hotel performance for the market in 1993”, said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “ADR continued to be the driving force behind this trend, off the back of a rather weak first quarter in 2013, where additional supply had an overall negative effect on rate”.

Supply increase: +3.7% Demand: +3.9% Occupancy: 0.1% to 85.8% ADR: +2% to $243 RevPAR: +2.1% to $205 “Singapore continued to grow ADR since August 2012, while occupancy remained stable at levels above 85.0 percent for the third year in a row for the month”, said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “In particular, the positive ADR trend is driving RevPAR, resulting in the highest levels in this measure of any March since 1995 when STR Global began tracking hotel performance for the market”

SYDNEY Occupancy: 2.2%o to 87.9% ADR: +4.4% to $197 RevPAR: +6.7% to $173 “Sydney closed a fabulous first quarter, reporting record levels for RevPAR of any March since STR Global began tracking hotel performance for the market in 1995”, said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “Strong demand translated into occupancy levels in excess of 85.0 percent and fuelled rate growth for the month, keeping ADR as a driving force behind this positive trend”.

DUBAI Supply increase: +7.4% Demand: +6.2% Occupancy: -1.2% to 87.2% ADR: +4% to $296 RevPAR: +2.8% $258 “While demand growth was strong, it did not keep pace with new supply, resulting in negative occupancy performance for the market”, said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “ADR grew by another 4.0 percent, and the increase in rate managed to offset the negative occupancy trend, leading to an overall positive RevPAR performance for the month”.

MAY 2014

10-11 DATA.indd 10

4/21/14 1:58 PM



HIGHLIGHTS: REGIONAL SNAPSHOT MEA February 2014 results from Hotstats and new regional deals from STR Global 1


Occupancy: -1% to 57.7% ARR: -10.9% to $38 RevPAR: 12.4% to $22.20 TRevPAR: -11.7% to $46 Tourist arrivals: -28% Payroll: +4.8% Profitability: -41.7% 2

3 3 1 4 2


Occupancy: +1.5% to 79.3% ADR: +5.2% to $252 RevPAR: +7.2% to $199 TRevPAR: +6.7% GOPPAR: +7.7%


Occupancy: - 10.2% to 48.4% ADR: +1.2% to $280 RevPAR: -16.4%to $135 Conference and banqueting: -10.9% TRevPAR: -16.6% Payroll: +2.7% GOPPAR: -26.7%


Occupancy: +3.3% ADR: â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 18.1% to $162.46 RevPAR: â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14.6% to $162 TRevPAR: -8.5% to $273 Payroll: + 2.5% Profitability decline: 20.5%



Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts intends to open its 150-room InterCityHotel Culture Village in Dubai by November 2016. Hilton Worldwide Holdings has signed an agreement with Al Jazeera Group to manage the 180-room Hilton Al Ahsa in eastern Saudi          455-room Hilton Doha The Pearl Residences, Qatar for First Qatar Real Estate Development Company.

Accor has opened its first branded hotel in the Ivory Coast, the 209room Sofitel Abidjan HĂ´tel Ivoire.

Warwick International Hotels will manage the 250-room Warwick Doha Hotel in Qatar, expected to open by the end of 2017.

The 128-room Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes expected to open in early 2015.

     National Group to open the 72-room Adagio, 180-room Ibis and 182room Novotel Fujairah, UAE.








MAY 2014

Material supplied by



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position is open to females only


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INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas


DEPARTMENT: Finance and


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LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

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LOCATION: United Arab Emirates



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LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

must have good English


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INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

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DEPARTMENT: Housekeeping

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LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

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LOCATION: United Arab

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Emirates (UAE)







salary offered



INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas



RECRUITER: Mangrove by Bin

DEPARTMENT: Human Resources

RECRUITER: Radisson Blu Hotel &

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Majid Hotels & Resorts

(HR), Training and Development

Park Inn Abu Dhabi



LOCATION: United Arab Emirates


must have minimum experience

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of two years in the same industry

Ras Al Khaimah is looking for an


are currently looking for a

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position will be based in Dubai,

minimum experience of two years


chef de cuisine at their Italian

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in the same position at a 4 or

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restaurant Filini. Reporting to the executive chef, this person



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INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas



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training role. UAE hotel experience

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INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

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Radisson Blu Corporate guidelines,



must be extremely pro-active,

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be a self-starter with a drive for

be responsible for managing a

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RECRUITER: Apt Resources, Dubai


INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas



RECRUITER: Auris Plaza Hotel


MAY 2014

candidate must have a minimum




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of the hotel.

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must have experience in the

Consulting are looking for a





European executive chef on behalf

RECRUITER: Apt Resources, Dubai

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

immediately. European or Arabic

of their client, a 5-star hotel based


DEPARTMENT: Housekeeping

applications will be preferred, who

in Chennai, India. French or Swiss

are looking Russian or Arabic

LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

are willing to work at a 4-star hotel

nationals are will be preferred

speakers who are based in the


chain based in Qatar.

for this positition and previous

Middle East with a UAE driving


license. The candidate must

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attractive expat package will be

have a minimum of two years


INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

offered to the correct candidate.

of experience in the same role.

RECRUITER: Concorde Fujairah

DEPARTMENT: Finance and

The sales executive will assist


Accounts, Purchase and Stores


the director of sales and sales


LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

manager in ensuring consistent

Concorde Fujairah Hotel is



usage of hotel facilities and that all

looking for an assistant executive


Management/ GM

sales targets are met or exceeded.

housekeeper to supervise

salary offered

LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

the daily operations of the




housekeeping staff, promoting



INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

a safe environment and quality




service to achieve maximum guest



Rooms Division, Housekeeping

satisfaction, protection of assets

looking for a purchasing manager

RECRUITER: Bin Majid Hotels &


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for an international hotel based


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experience is a necessity. An



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candidates with experience in the



INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

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relative experience, who must

RECRUITER: Boudl Hotels and





sales or in the rooms division.


LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

Industry: Hotels Clubs and Spas

Certain responsibilities will

director of rooms is required for


Department: IT and Computers

include managing a team within

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oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own area of responsibility.

should preferably have previous

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Recruiter: Taj Palace Dubai

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is looking for a DOSM who is

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passionate and has the ability

Dubai is looking for an I.T

INDUSTRY: Facilities Management,


to drive the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revenue

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Hotels Clubs and Spas

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

in terms of increasing room

for managing the portfolio of

DEPARTMENT: Engineering and


revenues and average room rate.

application systems software,


Marketing/PR, Revenue

Applicants are expected to have

hardware and infrastructure of



at least three years of experience

telecommunication systems


LOCATION: United Arab Emirates

in a similar role and knowledge

for the property such as



of the hospitality industry within

communication systems, guest

salary offered



room locking system, in-room


technologies (T.V and Wi-Fi),

RECRUITER: Hozpitality Consulting

systems and data security.

Additional details: Recruiters are


have a strong background of F&B,

START DATE: May 2014


RECRUITER: Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

Hotel and Villas



a hotel company based in Doha.


Beverage Service

INDUSTRY: Hotels Clubs and Spas

The candidate should be of an

revenue manager utilises


DEPARTMENT: Food Production/

engineering background, and

management skills and knowledge



should Middle East or Western

of hotel operations, to contribute


LOCATION: Chennai, India


to and lead the revenue strategy

basic, plus single apartment and


looking for a facility manager for

MAY 2014



Tel: (+971) 2 634 8495 /

COUNTRY : Oman CONSULTANT : Engineering Innovation Design & Consulting CONTRACTOR : Al Jaber


Engineering & Contracting -ALECSTATUS : Current Project NAME : Baccarat Hotel Project -

All the latest tenders information you need to know about

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MAY 2014



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NAME : Abraj Kudai Mixed-use

CITY : Doha

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MAY 2014



ATHENS RECOVERING FROM BILLION DOLLAR LOSS STR Global reports recovery â&#x20AC;&#x153;in full swingâ&#x20AC;?


thensâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; hotel industry has entered a period of recovery, following approximately $3.4bn in losses incurred by the sector as a whole, between 2010 and 2013. Recovery began in May 2013 and in the          tourist arrivals at the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s airport       stabilised for both leisure and MICE guests. In 2013, the downturn bottomed out, primarily due to a recovery in leisure tourism. From April onwards, occupancy

Estimated loss of revenue, 2010 - 2013 Rooms


Total hotel


Expenditure in the city




     to 2012, while room rates stabilised. Occupancy rose 7% in 2013 to 56.8% As a result of the occupancy increases, revenue per available room also

Categories of estimated loss of revenue, outside of hotels Attractions and entertainment


Restaurant and cafes








MAY 2014

      market increased 7.9% to $74.45. The     by the Economy segment with a 13.2% increase, followed by the Upper Upscale segment with a 4.7% increase. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We expect to see this trend continue.    !!   the economic situation and outlook in Greece. If this can be maintained, leisure tourism is expected to recover further because of the attractiveness of Athens as a destination,â&#x20AC;? said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global.

New Dubai Showroom opens on 21st May 2014

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Dubai makes TripAdvisor “Best Places” list Debut ranking for the emirate Dubai has been named as one of the top 25 places go worldwide in the Traveller Choice Awards 2014 by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. The entry highlighted 646 activities to try in Dubai including the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural

Understanding, The Dubai Fountain, Dubai Creek and various attractions and tours in the city, desert and along the coast. Travellers’ Choice Destinations honour top travel spots worldwide based on the millions of valuable reviews and

MAY 2014

opinions from TripAdvisor travellers. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, attractions and restaurants in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.



Single largest incentive group visits Dubai Over 14,500 delegates arrive from China The Dubai Convention and Events Bureau (DCEB), a division of the Department of Commerce and Tourism Marketing (DTCM), announced that Dubai welcomed the single largest incentives group in its history during April, comprising of over 14,500 delegates from Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. in China. Business events and incentive tourism are key pillars of Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tourism Vision 2020 strategy to increase visitors to

Dubai to 20 million in 2020. The DTCM and DCEBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s participation at GIBTM and its announcement that it will be hosting the largest-ever incentives group comes as part of efforts to grow awareness of the Emirateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offer both regionally and internationally. Next month, the incentive mega-group will make use of numerous chartered and commercial Emirates flights to travel from various cities in China in addition


 Emirates will add a third daily flight to Jordan from 1 August, representing a further ramping up of services to Amman after Emiratesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; flights to Jordan went double daily in October 2012.          healthy demand for our services,â&#x20AC;? said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emiratesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Divisional Senior Vice President,       a triple daily service, we will be able to

provide even greater convenience to passengers flying to and from Jordan and throughout the rest of our network.â&#x20AC;?   !

 "#$  at 2155hrs and arrive in Amman at %&!   # '*+ depart at 0345hrs and touch down in Dubai at 0745hrs. A combination of Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-200 aircraft will be used, as with the existing operation.

MAY 2014

to over 25 high-end Dubai hotels and dozens of transport coaches during their stay in the Emirate. Arriving in seven overlapping waves, the delegates will be treated to a diverse array of leisure experiences and training opportunities featuring extensive sightseeing around the Emirate, abra rides across the creek, shopping trips to Dubai Mall, and workshops at The Meydan Hotel.



Rapid expansion and high employee turnover in the Middle East, Sophie McCarrick investigates the best approach to recruitment


he successful foundation of any hotel is the quality of its staff, and while some employee turnover and maintenance recruitment is inevitable, the continuous task of sustaining a loyal and strong work force is an ever growing responsibility for hoteliers. The standards of an employee, after-all, are fully reflective of a brand’s offering. In the approach to 2020 and the ongoing expansion of the Middle East’s hospitality industry, recruitment across the region is big business, however, as demand on existing and upcoming hotels to source top-trained staff heightens we wonder, are they investing in the help of speciality recruitment agencies when sourcing their staff? Speaking to Hospitality Business , hoteliers explain their reasons behind saying ‘yes or no’ to the aid of recruitment agencies.

MAY 2014


HABTOOR GRAND BEACH RESORT & SPA - NO Placing an emphasis on the success of recruiting via         


 % & 

 ' ( )    that in 2013 online recruitment was the sole method     

 "            )              " *'                        " #             to recruit directly from the source country, you may be required by the laws of that country to use a registered agency,â&#x20AC;? he said.     +*-/          around ten good quality hotels in Dubai, it was almost impossible to recruit people locally. These days however, people can move between companies without too much trouble. We have the internet to advertise and recruit from, we have over 100 top quality hotels to source employees from, why would you need an agency?â&#x20AC;? 4 )      

 to use a recruitment agency when hiring in the hospitality        

         ) 5     "        


     have changed very little over the last two decades and with better opportunities arising either in their own country or other developing countries it is becoming harder to find qualified or experienced people in this region.â&#x20AC;?

DUSIT THANI DUBAI - NO Not in favour of partnering with recruitment agencies, Vagelyn Federico, Dusit Thani Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director of human resources, explains that the company prefers to encourage internal recruitment and in house transfers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have our own recruitment platforms online, including social media where we can advertise our vacancies, which we fully utilise. Online recruitment platforms that we have create great accessibility and  


     reference check. We use one online partner called Caterer Global in addition to all our own platforms,â&#x20AC;? said Federico. Discussing the disadvantages of using a recruitment   


       that agencies can not only be pricey with expensive service fees, but also limiting as they are the sole decision makers on which candidates are nominated for vacancies, therefore leaving risk of the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recruitment team missing out on meeting other, better suited applicants. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At the moment itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very challenging to keep good and             opportunities and the mass of hotel openings, which

              establishments. People are our greatest asset within a hotel and we have to ensure they have the skills and competence to deliver their role professionally and  ! "#$       !     the best of your ability to serve the company,â&#x20AC;? Federico concluded.

MAY 2014




ATLANTIS THE PALM - YES             with a selection of recruitment agencies since opening. Talent development director, Teresa Garbo Lee, explains that as a result the property hired almost 500 employees for hotel operation in 2013 via agencies who have become familiarised with what they are looking for and understand     ! Discussing the advantages of recruiting via an agency, " # $%&  '  ((# '  industry knowledge, and as they understand the quality and standards at Atlantis, they are able to identify the type of candidates that match our needs and requirements. We have a diverse team of talent and in order to build and maintain this we have some very good ground agents in the      ')  assist with talent recruitment. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Working with certain agents for a long time has resulting in a very great working relationship, they understand our high standards and provide us with what we are looking for,â&#x20AC;? she said. On a downside however, Lee admits that there are disadvantages to working closely with recruitment teams.

MAY 2014

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The main disadvantage is that it can be costly to work with   '#! *   source new candidates, we need new agents and in doing so it takes time to educate the new ground agents and to build a fruitful relationship.â&#x20AC;? +'  ' agencies, Lee explains that it is becoming increasingly  '' ''-   /   (     4*6 6 ! +        is growing. When faced with international recruitment  ' 74    )   and visa processing, Lee believes that the assistance of recruitment agencies simply makes the hiring process run more smoothly. 8'  # $%'        well in the region, the lead time between getting a new employee on board, and relocating them to Dubai can be  '!9       relocation factors, however agencies can assist with all of this. The key is to hire the right attitude and to establish a clear understanding of our expectation in the hiring phase.â&#x20AC;?




 -  ' Anura Kannangara, complex director of human resources, explains that although the properties are supported by

   $+ '       by recruitment agencies. 102            


' + /   )'!&)'

  suggests newspaper advertising does not seem to work for us as most of the resumes received are not appropriate or relevant to the job advertised.â&#x20AC;? 3


 -# $ 4   383 employees, and taking into account standard turnover rates, the property recruits around 80 to 90 new associates per year. 0     +  $ is the fact that Gene Y does not place the same emphasis on loyalty. They want to get to the top quickly and aspire to be bigger and better, namely moving to Dubai. 02 +      stepping stone rather than explore the long-term growth possibilities or the incredible learning experience of  /   -'  

 -! â&#x20AC;&#x153;The good thing is that because weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been around for more than 11 years, we have become adept at spotting '     +      appreciate our exceptionality and culture,â&#x20AC;? explains Kannangara.

MAY 2014


  Abu Dhabi, is only implemented during periods of mass recruitment, reveals area director of human resources        Abulwafa. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are yes and no to recruitment agencies as we only use them when in need of mass recruitment consisting of candidates from a healthy mix of backgrounds   !"   #    professional agency to save time and manage costs $ %!&%  '   %%  costs, the overall process will be seamless, less '      $ %()'  Abulwafa.   

     propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s extensive renovation is coming to an end with the addition of six new F&B outlets, the group will be investing in help from recruitment agencies in seeking ' +    -  ! Placing emphasis on the importance of carefully choosing a suitable recruitment agency, Abulwafa notes that the overall impact of working with hiring specialists will be positive if the right recruitment partner is on board, considering the amount of administration and legal work required when hiring, however, if the agency is  '    '   /+ ! On the other hand, for the scheduled recruitment calendar or to address ongoing requirements, all

             # properties. Admitting that recruiting locally can be a challenge, , Abulwafa notes that the biggest growing '     &    

         $   people move on as they acquire experience and new positions come available. 0"  %        '% on quite rapidly, and although there are talented expats available locally, they are not in volumes, so recruitment     !"        $%  ''      develop their career and skills while on the job,â&#x20AC;? he said.

17th & 18th June Dusit Thani, Dubai

RESTAURANTS, HOTELS AND BUSINESS COMING TOGETHER The Hospitality Business Summit 2014 is a unique opportunity to debate a wide range of key industry issues over two days of succinct and focused panel sessions.           ! for such a broad cross section of the hospitality industry â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from food to IT â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to identify, debate and act on, the trends they see shaping the next six years.


Sales Director

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Sarah Motwali

Ankit Shukla

Julie Caulton


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As modern innovations like smartphones, interactive tablets and cloud computing further penetrate the market, security concerns grow around hospitality data protection. Hospitality Business provides tips to staying cyber-safe

MAY 2014



n a tech-savvy world, everything from making a booking, checking-in or out, to ordering room-service, can be done with a simple click via technology. However, a matter         

transferring in and out of a hotel every day. Predominantly during the reservation process, sensitive data         



then generally stored for weeks or months following the guestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;   


With such private information held by hotels, what systems and methods are hoteliers implementing to keep their guest data secure? Amit Sharda, vice president of the I.T hospitality company, Prologic First, explains: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The hospitality industry as a whole is changing to increase I.T safety and security levels, without impacting their day-to-day operations, or the guestâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experience. Today it has become imperative to secure guest data that travels from various online reservation portals to Practice Management Software (PMS) used in hotels. Following countless credit card fraud stories from the sector, guests now need assurance that they can perform payment transactions safely. For hotels to do this they must actively maintain their PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A big deciding factor in hotel choice for travellers, is the availability of a high-speed internet connection. However, this in-demand service unfortunately could endanger a propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entire computing system, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crucial that hotel owners and operators implement the necessary steps to secure stored onsite data, those who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t typically are unaware of the potential consequences or unwilling to invest the capital required to implement true I.T security,â&#x20AC;? he added.

DATA PROTECTION TIPS Hospitality Business, along side Prologic First provides an overview as to how hoteliers can protect their guests and themselves from lingering cyber dangers. Set up a VLAN By setting up a Virtual Local Area Network for all hotel users and guests, the guest and administration networks can be separated throughout WiFi networks, disabling guests or users outside of the building from exploring areas of the network they shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be. This system also ensures a proper authentication method is implemented before anyone can access the internet, free or not. Always password protect Seemingly a no-brainer, but an important factor as itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s common for cyber-hackers to succeed simply by guessing weak passwords. Access to all equipment, wireless internet networks and sensitive data portals should always be guarded with unique, individual user names and passwords. The strongest passwords contain a mix of numbers, letters and symbols, based on random combinations; personal birth dates wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cut it. Begin at recruitment Right from the hiring stage, conduct screening and background checks on prospect employees and their I.T. backgrounds. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s possible for unauthorised data-access to occur from within a




overall technology infrastructure, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relatively easy to monitor any suspicious network activity.                   

and keep all software up-to-date. Protection software can ward !             

Keeping the software up-to-date is imperative, including scheduling regular downloads of security updates, which help guard against new viruses on the web and variation of old threats.     "  

!   #$   #      

breaches to occur as a result from unintended human error. A corporate culture that emphasises computer security can be easily obtained through training programmes, which teach employees the importance of choosing intelligent, non-sloppy passwords, and how to use care when operating on the network and hotel devices. Clear clouds %        !  


the service also poses threats to data stored within the cloud, as all information is housed on remote servers operated by third parties, dealing with their own set of security issues. If using a cloud storage system, keep it clear and keep all sensitive data out of it. Stay aware Never think a system is safe because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s protected by an anti-virus or security programme. Shred everything, including documents with corporate information, addresses, online information, guest details â&#x20AC;&#x201C; everything. Even when using smartly thought-out passwords, change them regularly. A hacker after all, will hack until entry is gained.    Phishing scams commonly operate by posing as a possible customer or reliable source. Always think before clicking and be sure that inquires have all been received via a reliable source. Also avoid unknown email attachments, unsolicited emails can contain viruses, Trojan programmes or computer worms. Simply delete and block the sender if they continue to contact.

MAY 2014




The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most useful and innovative new designs, delivered to you every month

New beauty services   !  Beauty, located in Gloria Hotel, Dubai Media City, has added stone massage       " #$           "      

           massage is designed to    %      %          #$          %#

Finasiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design premises complete Furnishing, interior and      recently celebrated                 with Italian designers, Colombini Casa. The interiors brand joins            design brands Molteni&C, Dada, Gandia Blasco, Artemide and Armani/ Casa, amongst others. The showroom is located on Al Ittihad road, Deira.

MAY 2014



A stylish urban edge  


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MAY 2014



Enhancing channel management

Revamped hospitality solutions website



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Hoist Technology and Locatel merge       !  5 !    !     :!            !  :!   !  (,!  %     % -  !      !   !    !  ;    $"       !!       :!             ;! < 

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MAY 2014


King Koil launched in Abu Dhabi Dubai Furniture   






Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi. Boosting distribution in Abu Dhabi, the new showroom     " 

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$    % &

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showrooms in Al Ain and Ras ) !  '

Idyllic bathroom settings 




Island Resort in the  '   



the world. This new contract      





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styling, with washbasins  6   '

MAY 2014




The artist’s haven Returning to the city formerly known as the architect’s playground HBA Dubai associate Martin Farrow reveals why the age of interior design is dawning on Dubai


ince the early 2000s Dubai has often been referred to as the playground of the world’s architects. But after a heady decade of building boom, the tables are turned and focus is moving inside architecture’s modern icons as the city fast becomes what HBA’s newest Dubai-based associate Martin Farrow calls a haven for artists, designers and even musicians. Nothing less than an expert in his field, Farrow’s career highlights include work on Burj Al Arab, Madinat Resort Jumeirah, The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, and Prague’s Mandarin Oriental, in addition to his MA in fine art and no less than 25 years industry experience across McVitty Interior Consultants, KCA International and HBA. His appointment to Dubai – a city which, until January of this year, he hadn’t seen in seven years – marks a point of significance in a career which originally began with HBA in London. Commenting on his surprise at the rapid development of Dubai and the region since his last visit, Farrow says: “Most projects have a challenge, but you must work with the clients and brand standards. The key to a good hotel is to have regional influences with the brand and to introduce that through art work, or certain elements within the region that you bring forward through design.” In his new role, Farrow is tasked with heading the expansion of HBA in the Middle East and Africa with key activities under way in Lagos, Jordan and Oman, focusing on the 5-star and luxury sectors and responding to demand for refurbishment of older assets. The current team of 25 is set to double, taking the total global headcount over 1,000. All drawing on Farrow’s strong artistic background and taste for innovations that also boast sustainability credentials, his experience of the hospitality industry is varied. His advice? “In many instances it’s about working closely with designers and being upfront; be realistic about budgets, know how to best use them. There is a tendency to over-design without focus on key elements and to spend money unwisely when there are other things you can value engineer.” Keeping a finger on the pulse of the next big thing, Farrow

predicts the hospitality industry – and hotel design – are led by the guest. “Without them you don’t have a hotel. It’s about technology but also understanding the client expectations. When you travel to a region you want to feel part of it, so it’s about moving with the customers and have the conviction to create a cultural experience, rather than brand experience.” Noting the excitement and pace of the regional industry and the progressive attitudes toward design and innovation that fuel such momentum, Farrow continues to observe that it isn’t just the interior design or art professions which benefit currently. Projects such as the Dubai Opera House and the attraction of new shows, installations and concerts, are all supporting a burgeoning cultural scene. “There is a real excitement about the stuff happening here and since I arrived in January I still feel like a child in a sweet shop. There is so much to look at here in terms of design and inspiration. What’s exciting is that Dubai isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and today there is this whole new cultural scene emerging.”

Have the conviction to create a cultural experience, rather than brand experience

MAY 2014

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IMPROVING LINEN STANDARDS Members of the UAE Professional Housekeepers Group examine quality aspects of hospitality linen at The Oberoi Hotel


t a recent event exclusively sponsored by hospitality linen suppliers Silver Arcade Linen LCC, SAT, members of the UAE Professional Housekeepers Group and more than 100 housekeeping executives and managers from across the UAE, met at The Oberoi Hotel to discuss the various quality and technical aspects of linen. During the event, executives and directors of housekeeping, room division managers and laundry managers were presented with an interactive presentation and discussion on topics including linen quality standards, how different quality specifications affect linen, why fabrics shrink unevenly, better linen maintenance techniques and more. Attendees were also given a demonstration on how to use

linen testers efficiently, enabling housekeepers to better understand the linens they work with and providing them with an insight to what questions they should be asking their linen providers in future. Followed by a cocktail dinner, guests were also given complimentary linen testers from SAT, with encouragement to study the current quality of linens they are using or looking to buy. Director of brand development, SAT Linen, Sean Xavier commented on the event: “The evening was a huge success and highly appreciated by all, in addition to an exclusive showcasing of ‘SAT by Viela Guerra’ products, all guests enjoyed a first-hand experience of hospitality from the newest international hotel brand in Dubai.”

MAY 2014



THE BIG PROJECT Developing a traditional Emirati hospitality brand for export to the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hotel, F&B and entertainment capitals, Samaya International CEO Ali Al Hosani is on the cusp of revolutionising everything we know about cultural hospitality


n his 21 years of hands-on industry experience, Ali Al Hosani has graduated from non-management operational roles, to leading public sector initiatives and launching his own private sector investment and brand development entity, Samaya International. He has worked across transportation, hotels, restaurants and catering and like many others he sees the presence of Emirati essence is in short supply. Nationalisation targets across GCC are increasingly mandating a workforce that is less expatriate dependent and, while the UAEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s free market doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t implement the same stringent targets seen elsewhere, there is a growing awareness of the lack of representation in the private sector. While the focus in this method is on reducing the westernisation of international, yet locally present brands, Hosani is looking to export the wealth of Emirati heritage and culture in a project that has taken three years to formulate. To date, Samayaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Emirati hospitality conceptâ&#x20AC;? that will debut in cities of the calibre of London, New York and Sao Paulo, exists legally but not physically. The idea is to take the concept of Emirati hospitality beyond the UAE, rather than nationalise the workforce of a brand contained within the country.

Over the coming two years that brand will become a tangible player on the international hospitality scene, with a synchronised global launch Hosani promises will create a legacy for the UAE. He signals â&#x20AC;&#x153;a huge numberâ&#x20AC;? of properties will follow. Revealing the plans exclusively to Hospitality Business, he discloses: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not about luxury. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s everything for everybody. We want to create a brand coming from the UAE to the international market to be the flagship of Samaya. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The main objective is to capture the entire hospitality industry, from F&B to hotels and services, entertainment, even clean energy, and not even talking, but doing,â&#x20AC;? he reveals. While the more commercially sensitive details are closely guarded, the key is in Hosaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s use of the word flagship. Samaya is the boutique advisory and investment firm for no fewer than 16 hospitality projects and Hosani, the entrepreneur behind it, previously worked on the teams that launched Abu Dhabi TCA and TDIC. Internationally, the project will receive an investment â&#x20AC;&#x153;upwards of $1bnâ&#x20AC;?, work to its own 50% Emirati national recruitment target, that will see an enormous commitment to labour export,       quoi from Emirati hospitality heritage

What will really drive the sector is investment and you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always get that without transparency

MAY 2014



that is lacking on the UAE’s own shores. “A local chain isn’t about a name coming from here. It’s not even cultural, it’s physical,” he clarifies. Keen to dispel the stereotypes and conventions of ‘Brand UAE’ as irrelevant to his plans, Hosani assures that the focus is on authenticity, rather than gold-plated. Telling the story of a Thai F&B brand Samaya introduced to Ras Al Khaimah, Hosani says the success of anything that requires authenticity, stems from the authenticity of those creating it. He continues: “You will know this brand comes from the UAE not because it’s Hollywood, but because it’s from the heart. It’s emotional engagement and it’s authenticity.” On home soil Despite the level of commitment launch plans to date have no doubt required, the development of the closely guarded Emirati hospitality concept hasn’t detracted focus from what’s happening closer to home. Samaya already owns five properties, operated under a number of brands, and provides hospitality and F&B advisory, financial consulting, design, brand development and strategic communications. Samaya has, in its five years since launch, introduced a significant number of local, regional and international business concepts. “Growth is steady and the focus is on projects. On the investment side in F&B concepts we see there is nobody from a local perspective looking towards developing these in hotels. “The tendency is to build a property then decide what to do with all the space, rather than planning at the least whether the space will be used to serve sushi or coffee,” Hosani shares. The investment landscape in the UAE’s largest Emirate has changed drastically over recent years from the 2005 rise in 5-star properties to the capped development of the mid-market and furnished apartments segment, driven by the number of mid-term residents who since then have either left or moved into permanent accommodation. Whereas in mainland Abu Dhabi Hosani advises that development should slow until demand gains pace,

MAY 2014



elsewhere he says the key to achieving the necessary objectives will be the development of resorts akin to Dubai’s Atlantis The Palm, in addition to more desert properties. As the effects of the global financial meltdown fade, Hosani advises that focus now should be moving into the mid-market and cost effective properties and assets, outside of today’s development hubs. While Yas Island retains the Emirate’s only ‘flagship destination’ status, the next wave of development will see the spotlight move to the Western Region, which under a 2030 development plan (see box) will receive huge investments.

Hosani’s advice for potential stakeholders? “From the beach to the desert, infrastructure development is happening and hotels are part of that, then we’re talking restaurants, malls, cinemas, entertainment. It’s a goldmine, especially for hotels. There is a lack of strong brands there.”

It’s a goldmine, especially for hotels. There is a lack of strong brands there

Open industry With regards to a longterm vision, Hosani has his eyes set on expansion and the establishment and ownership of more hospitality brands that take a more transparent approach to operations. “If a hospitality company is listed you will encourage not only the brokers but

The pool, Novotel Al Bustan Abu Dhabi.

WESTERN REGION DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2030 Under Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, economic output of the Emirate’s currently under-developed Western Region will aim to hit a target value of $500bn, across four major industries: Oil and gas, power generation, infrastructure and transport and tourism. Urban planning is ongoing and immediate projects focus on underpinning oil and power projects, residential development and minimal retail and entertainment projects. Ball room entrance, Novotel Al Bustan Abu Dhabi.

MAY 2014


more investors and this is what I want to see established next. “Everybody says they want a specific market mix and number of hotels, but what will really drive the sector is investment and you can’t always get that without transparency. If we open up and can take a share of different companies in order to minimise risk, we will encourage a lot.” From where the industry stands today, Hosani’s ideas are radical. As others do, he observes an industry that is a melting pot of cultures – albeit overwhelmingly western – which form

a unique hybrid of hospitality largely rooted in a USP of excess and wealth. He’s not the first person to draw such a conclusion, but his reaction to the current business climate will be the differentiating factor of Samaya’s activities. In responding to an arena that is too crowded for a truly home grown brand to make a noise in, it is in exporting the charm of UAE hospitality that he hopes to create the same impact abroad as the foreign internationals have here. What Hosani’s plan could achieve would have an irrevocable impact on the

MAY 2014


perceptions of the UAE as a country of malls and 7-star hotels. Through education and experience, he has created a cultural export that turns the tables on the international players who replaced cultural experience with brand experience. In doing so he is creating a path to the UAE and an entirely new revenue stream for an industry that could otherwise find itself lacking a USP in future.

Hospitality Business continues to explore the issue of nationalisation, in next issue’s roundtable discussion



AHIC 2014


MEED and Bench Events host AHIC 2014 at Madinat Jumeirah, May 4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 5

eld under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum Chairman Dubai Airports President Dubai Department for Civil Aviation Chairman and CEO of Emirates, the 10th AHIC is themed â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;A decade of defining the hotel investment landscapeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Combining the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most senior hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors to discuss the growth in hospitality and tourism sectors in the region, as well as to offer an exclusive insight on the most recent topics of the hotel industry, including; branded residences, economy and mid-market products and serviced apartments. The Conference this year focuses on the evolution of Dubai in the last decade. Hotels across Dubai recorded an impressive occupancy rate of 80% in 2013, even with an influx of almost 3,000 new rooms in the hospitality market. According to a report by EY the          strongest performance in the GCC. High occupancy rates were maintained despite the addition of thousands

of new rooms to the supply chain in 2013. Average daily rates (ADR) also witnessed an increase of 6.4% between 2012 and 2013, resulting in an overall RevPAR (revenue per available room) of $223 in 2013, marking an increase of 5.9% compared to 2012. Figures show a similar state of affairs in Abu Dhabi, where hotels posted a 12.8% increase to 73.4% in 2013. As the Middle East is becoming the global benchmark for hotel food and beverage, AHIC this year has dedicated a special panel session titled the Evolution of Hotel F&B in The Region â&#x20AC;&#x201C; where to next? The session will discuss the value hotel operators add; how are they compete and the future. The session will also look at where owners need to invest to ensure they are able to compete, and what impact can F&B have on ADR and RevPAR. AHIC 2014 will be hosting two networking receptions for its attendees this year, with an Opening Gala Reception on May 4 hosted by Jumeirah Group at Zero Gravity and another Networking Reception on May 5 hosted by Al Habtoor Hotels at Waldorf Astoria The Palm.

The Conference this year focuses on the evolution of Dubai in the last decade

MAY 2014

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2014) will be presenting the Leadership Award this year to HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President and Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism.

KEY PARTICIPANTS t Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group t InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) t Jumeirah Group t ACCOR t Al Habtoor Hotels Group t Hilton Worldwide t Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development â&#x20AC;&#x201C; SMIT t Wyndham Hotel Group t Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide t Aecom t Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion t Colliers International t Drake and Scull International t FRHI Hotels and Resorts t Golden Tulip Hotels Suits and Resorts t Hotel Partners Africa t HVS t JA Resorts & Hotels t Marriot International t MeliĂĄ Hotels International t Premier Inn t Roya International t Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) t Shaza Hotels t STR Global t Worldhotels

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f Elie Milky were a hotel investor his strategy would be to develop mid-market products in cities and secondary locations and split the asset between short and extended stay brands. Balancing the demands of the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s        also meeting the ambitions of the           unique and made all the more interesting by having weathered the transition in investment sentiment from that of Monopoly-board-millionaire to calculated business decisions. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Owners are cautious in where they invest and how. We have many discussions during negotiations where we advise that an upper upscale product may not be the correct one for the location and it may not be the right investment for the market you are        It is in response to this transition in approach that Rezidor will add two new            !   " "      the luxury and affordable markets across all demographics. #      $     " "    developed alongside Radisson Blu and %  &  "      changing demands of a guest profile so illusive it is yet to be fully defined. '    (  )  " Red guest will be even more tech      

    capitalise on the new brand identity in Dubai and Abu Dhabi â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with a hope to sign the first property in Dubai by 2014 end. Eventually Radisson Red will move  *   +   ,   under Milkyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s agenda. ,          he quotes that up to 20 properties could             " "      owners appreciate the benefits of a burgeoning mid-market. & 

     forward will see Rezidorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focus           simultaneously advising owners to themselves split single assets between a revenue driving hotel and hotel apartment providing the higher profit margin and occupancy ratio.


Capitalising on the changing demands of investors, director of development MEA for The Rezidor Hotel Group, Elie Milky, reveals the pipeline plans for Radisson Red and Qourvus, the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambitions for Iran and the possibility of a 4-star resort on The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

MAY 2014



Park Inn by Radisson, Riyadh.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how we were proactively developing our strategy because even though a lot of owners were not too keen on capturing that mid-market        interest. When it comes to mid-scale accommodation itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beginning to be        â&#x20AC;&#x153;This way youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting the best of both worlds. You are entering the mid              are capitalising on the strong average rates in these markets and you are        turn translates into very lucrative returns for the owner. If it was my money thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s         The pipeline under    currently includes a Park Inn by Radisson in: !"  (opening 2016) and two in Riyadh. In Dubai a Park Inn by Radisson Residence was recently signed in a takeover. Incorporated serviced apartments under the core Radisson Blu brand are operational in Dubai and Bahrain with more under development " #  $%  # 

"&$%   â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Saudi Arabia there is still interest in upper upscale and luxury hotels and

Radisson Blu Resort Jizan.

that is where we are still expanding Radisson Blu. But then even within Saudi $      '   Radisson hotels and investment moving towards serviced apartments as well as

      *  move will be to focus on emerging â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to some extent untouched â&#x20AC;&#x201C; markets. A tale of two halves Denying that market experience and changes in legislation will spur more owners to develop their own

    rather than employ the expertise of the         Milky predicts the next trend will be the pressure on fees facilitated by          in Africa currently. Yet on the flip side of this he also        which over the next 12 months will   #& +  %  

From an ownerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perspective, that property will not cost $500,000 per key to develop

MAY 2014


8 +             8  -8%                      (   â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our business in the Middle East could more than double if Iran opens ;        potential. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you are looking for high returns â&#x20AC;&#x201C; because it will be high risk at the beginning â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we will be one of the first operators to enter the region once      The strategy would see an entry 6       introduction of Park Inn by Radisson

   6  6    concentrated in Tehran and Shiraz. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very raw market and when you have a raw market you can open with

TIPS FOR ROI â&#x20AC;&#x153;To invest in Dubai or Riyadh, firstly to look at two trends. Depending on the location, if it is a secondary location in a city, why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you develop a mid-market product, where you reduce the risk on the investment? Then I would say, spread the risk even further by having a hotel split with a serviced apartments component. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That way youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting the best of both worlds. You are entering the mid-market investment circle, capitalising on strong demand for such a segment, you are capitalising on the strong average rates in these markets and you are targeting a growing segment, which in turn translates into very lucrative returns for the owner.â&#x20AC;?


The pipeline Radisson Blu Duqm, Oman.

any opportunity at the beginning. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s       its challenges but we will enter with our main core brands and then the rest      Drawing on his decade of industry                      Milkyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appetite for such opportunities signals that as political and social                        the Red Sea and in Cairo and Park Inn by Radisson opportunities   !    barrier will be the appetite of investors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The investment     but real estate investment is a niche within that and hotel investment a further niche in that arena. We use PR to remind owners we are there and it can be six month or two

                   "         The Rezidor Group is also eyeing the a potential opportunity on everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s   #      $ %  & '   Regardless of the timeline of that  (       Park Inn and Radisson Residences will           )*   +     in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;With such a strong portfolio all we are lacking is a resort on the beach. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We can develop a profitable resort on The Palm with attractive rates and operational costs. It will be slightly more affordable than the luxury product â&#x20AC;&#x201C; aiming for a rate of around $400. -/  %          1233 333 (          1533 333 (     %       678       he adds. Revealing the achievement would be made by making rooms 40sqm and maximising the profitability and positioning of facilities within the

    amalgamate F&B â&#x20AC;&#x201C; â&#x20AC;&#x153;six        â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and achieve further efficiencies on landscaping and value engineering to increase the assetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s value. Commenting on the attitude towards 6 !%      (  concludes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Owners still love brands. The DTCM incentives will help us a lot and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m looking forward to seeing some

     number of properties and leads coming to us. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking at a couple of leads to sign this year and hopefully some will be able to benefit from the scheme. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to take advantage of that scheme and if I was an investor that is  8

We can develop a  

 on The Palm with attractive rates and operational costs

MAY 2014



Five minutes with: Alain Debare, Action Hotels Speaking from the under construction Premier Inn Sharjah, Action Hotels CEO Alain Debare, explains the developerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s involvement in the growth of branded mid-market properties


s it currently stands Premier Inn Sharjah is a concrete shell on the emirateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main road, but before 2014 end it will be transformed into one of the highest grossing properties in the city; boasting an average rate of less than AED200 and an operational ROI of 30 days. It will represent to Action â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and to UK operator Premier Inn â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the start of an exponential growth period that will see 20 new hotels added to the existing portfolio of six in the UAE, adding 6,000 rooms, and 100 hotels in Saudi Arabia. Developing the entire pipeline, Action will also be the first full owners of a Premier Inn asset in the GCC. The stakes are high for both parties, not least Premier Inn, which currently owns and operates its 700-strong international portfolio, including its existing UAE



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properties, managed and developed under a JV with Emirates Group. But for Action the strategy is an opportunity to make its claim in the growth of a market sector, currently accounting for only 22% of total hotel stock, and soon as little as 17%.


Room pipeline to 2015 across multiple brands

MAY 2014


First hotel in Australia opened in Melbourne

Explains Alain Debare: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The market is very under supplied and is driven by demographic growth. When you look at the inventory, 22% of the mid-scale hotel stock in the Middle East is branded,       48% and in the USA itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 64%.â&#x20AC;? Action is already ploughing its interests in the market with eight hotels under construction across the region for a small collection of globally recognised mid-market brands (see box). It presents a great opportunity for Premier Inn, which receives all the benefits of rapid and aggressive expansion but on a capital light model. Considering the potential in the market, Debare rejects that now is the time for a developer owned by the Kuwaiti royal family to launch its own management brand. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Partnership with a powerful brand is so important. So many reservations come through the internet and that brand recognition is invaluable. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Even more than that, without the branding itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the standards, expertise and behind the scenes research to get to this product.â&#x20AC;?

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2014 may be all about a 25% increase on the current portfolio, but the big news for HMH will come with the launch of a new brand and hospitality concept that is designed to beat economic pressures. CEO Laurent A. Voivenel reveals all MAY 2014

hen news breaks of a relatively quiet, locally owned management brand making a string of clearly strategic appointments, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clear there is more to the story than first meets the eye. During his Q4 restructure of the 11 year old Hospitality Management Holdings, newly appointed CEO Laurent A. Voivenel, created three new senior management positions with a deliberate drive to increase international experience on his team. Since then, HMH has welcomed                           Bana as manager for revenue and distribution. All are newly created roles and while the recruitment is far from complete, according to Voivenel the appointments will be central to the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next 10 year chapter. Now the groundwork is complete, HMH is working on a significant increase in its current portfolio ahead of the launch of a radical new hospitality concept, set to send shock waves through the 3-star market. Commenting on the â&#x20AC;&#x153;big yearâ&#x20AC;? ahead, Voivenel is acutely aware of the gravity of the plans, acknowledging that a 25% increase to any businessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activities is significant, least of all the activities of a business that prides itself on establishing ahead of the curve, for example its entry in Sudan. Expanding with deliberate caution, the path could cover Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco and Tunisia. A 60 key Concorde will open in Beirut; 88 Coral apartments will open in a new Muscat property and two further properties will be added in Sudan. In short, anywhere viable and located on a direct flight path. Expansions across the GCC, Levant and UAE will look towards both primary and secondary real estate locations, as well as renovations at the Coral Beach and Coral Deira and an eventual brand relaunch for the Corp and Coral brands. â&#x20AC;&#x153;HMH was the first hotel company to go to Sudan after everybody left. Again, we identified Sport City because nobody is there, but it will become a big place.



The Ajman Palace.

Corp Amman restaurant.

Coral beach resort, Sharjah.

I have worked previously at properties that were once in the middle of nowhere, 20 minutes outside the nearest city, but the development that happened since has put those remote properties into the centre of cities today. “The expansion is key right now, but we won’t go left right and centre for the sake of putting our name on the building and getting the fees. We want to grow according to strategy and that strategy has been clearly defined. It’s about making those owner relationships last.” Hotel tomorrow For HMH, it’s not just that these properties will open, it’s about the way they will be built and operated and the impact these two crucial elements of the company’s DNA will have on the industry. When DTCM announced its 10% municipality fee concession, the mid-

Coral Al Khobar lobby.

market was keen to capitalise on the incentive within the given timeframe. But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, designing, building and opening a hotel to maximise on a three year tax break opportunity, is equally challenging. HMH’s owners will have a choice between two methods of construction: Traditional or modular systems, cutting build time in half as a result and allowing any additional cost incurred in the build to be recovered quicker due to the rapid ROI. “The concept will be the same, the room will be the same, but the owner chooses up to two years or up to 12 months construction time,” Voivenel surmises, further elaborating to say:

“If I take a prime location on Sheikh Zayed Road, it will be modular because I want that ROI now. If I’m going to open in Sports City, I have two years to construct the hotel, so there is time to go traditional.” The room in itself will also be a key differentiator for guests, with a larger than required floor space, although Voivenel declines to add further details due to commercial sensitivity. Up to two management contracts could be signed in 2014, according to current predictions and the properties will be operated under a new brand, ECOS. Setting the scene, Voivenel says: “We have been working on the brand

Compared to other industries we are sometimes scared to move forward at a faster pace

MAY 2014


concepts for some time and we are hoping to open the first hotel before the end of 2014. It will skyrocket.â&#x20AC;? Keeping the finer details closely guarded, what Voivenel does reveal signals a sharp repositioning of the mid-market sector, using innovations in technology to create the same sector innovations as the luxury market did, albeit to an opposite end means. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Compared to other industries we are sometimes scared to move forward at a faster pace. In yield management we are a decade behind the aviation industry; if you go to Japan, you have a mobile telephone that is also your credit card and subway card.â&#x20AC;?

The Ajman Palace.

Adding that the late-to-innovate industry mindset is somewhat routed in a fear of isolating guests, he boldly adds: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We as hoteliers have the tendency to try to give the customer what they want because we are not always here to educate them but at some point in time we may want to try new things and that is what we will do with ECOS.â&#x20AC;? More than that, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also about fighting the anticipated rises in the cost of development, staffing, transport; everything including visas. Considering the $43bn Expo investment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as it currently stands â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which in itself is set to create 200,000 jobs, the associated inflation could be crippling without preparation. The ECOS concept will be to utilise everything that is technologically

possible in order to reduce overheads, primarily based on a model of selfservice, similar to that seen in aviation. New sights This month, will also mark a mile stone with the launch of a new brand identity for Coral Hotels and resorts. Driven by â&#x20AC;&#x153;an acknowledgement that given the highly digital environment of today guests want to be simply more engagedâ&#x20AC;?, the principle will not be dissimilar to that employed with ECOS. Following six months of R&D, the new look will be introduced to consumers with a 360° campaign utilising print, digital and broadcast media as well as a series of media road shows and strategic on-site promotions at the various hotels under the brand

The concept will be the same, the room will be the same, but the owner chooses up to two years or up to 12 months construction time

MAY 2014

across the MENA region, immediately following ATM. The strategy will no doubt be interlinked with HMHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next objective: To consolidate ownership of the assets it manages. Currently liaising with 10 owners across 20 properties, the 25% portfolio boost will see existing owners increasing their business relations with          of HMHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s management capabilities. Relaying the owner-relations strategy competes even with the international operators, he adds: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We create relationships through hospitality, so when we increase the portfolio we will be looking to the owners with two properties to now look at their third and fourth.â&#x20AC;? The immediate opportunities will see a significant number of keys injected into Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sports City, over three Coral branded properties, and all new projects will continue along HMHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premise of being â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Halal friendlyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, i.e. where no alcohol is served, but can be consumed inside guest rooms. As Voivenel concludes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not going to say that we want to double our portfolio in five yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; time, just for the sake of it. We want to grow and be ready for 2020 but we want to be in the right locations with the right partners.â&#x20AC;?


June 9th 2014 Venue TBC




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MASTERMINDING RAK One of a number of stakeholders involved in the growth of RAK, CEO of Ras Al Khamaih Tourism Development Authority Steven Rice, is utilising a career in online marketing and reservations to drive the growth of RAK’s tourism industry


n the days before oil, Ras Al Khamaih was the UAE’s economic powerhouse. Favourable geography to bolster trade and transport; one of only two places in the world to boast a pearling industry; and a mountain trade in copper mining that continues to this day. It’s a success that – although now overshadowed – remains, and today the emirate is home to the world’s largest ceramics and sanitary ware manufacturer, a thriving cement industry and a free zone that renewed 5,100 business licences in 2013. With a population of 231,000, it is the fourth largest emirate and home to 65km of coastline. But as business and industry skyrockets, there is another story unfolding and for anybody who wants to talk about rapid growth, Steven Rice is the man.

Recently appointed CEO of Ras Al Khamaih Tourism Development Authority (TDA), Rice is heading an organisation, which at three years old this month, is making significant headway in replicating the private sector growth seen elsewhere, for Ras al Khaimah’s tourism industry. The battle is far from uphill. In 2013 there was a 49% growth in guest visitors and a further 28%, 2014 YTD. Hotel revenue is up 29% YTD and it’s not even the end of H1. Occupancy in Abu Dhabi is reportedly at a five year high; Ras Al Khamaih lags by only a few percentage points. Underpinning the success is the visitor

numbers, which broke the 1m barrier in 2013 and for which Rice eyes a “run rate of two million” within 18 months. The secret is in the stakeholders. From Hilton – which operates seven properties in the Emirate – to UNESCO, the logic is to drive growth through association and, essentially, brands. Ahead of the delivery of a formal masterplan to His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi this quarter, Rice says that it’s time to discard the pipeline projections and KPIs relayed previously, in order to focus on the feedback from hoteliers, who want high occupancy and favourable ADR, rather than the replication of the Dubai model.

It’s not happening in Abu Dhabi it’s not happening in Dubai and the reason is because of the Waldorf Astoria

MAY 2014



“There are conversations ongoing with various brands and investors and we see the potential of Ras Al Khamaih, in terms of increasing the diversity of those brands and concepts in the next five to ten years, as very high indeed.” Not another Dubai With a hotel stock of little over 5,000 rooms, following the scheduled Q4 opening of the 420 room Santorini Hotel on Al Marjan Island, oversupply will be a key consideration for 2014 and beyond. While the development dollars generated by oil transformed two of Ras Al Khaimah’s neighbours, Rice says the lack of such capital in this instance has been a blessing in itself. A surge in hotel numbers would not only generate an economic rush and a glut of hotel stock, but would disrupt the success of existing properties and, as a result, the cohesion cultivated between TDA and the existing hotel owners and operators. “You can increase occupancy if you drop prices but then RevPAR and ADR will drop and vice versa. The trick is to keep them going in the right direction, and we have done that,” he shares. The purpose is to move away from the highly quantified approach to development, in order to cultivate growth of a personal nature. As a result, GDP contributions will not be a yard stick for the success of the industry, less considering the strength and potential of the emirates other industries. “As entities such as Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone and RAKIA continue to grow

the important indicators to note will be the empirical volumes, as much as the overall GDP. That will grow anyway and you can’t accurately map how tourism should contribute towards it. What we want is for everybody to grow as a whole.” Rice meets with a board 25 of the emirate’s most influential CEOs as regularly as every six weeks to discuss inward investments and the entry of new market players from property companies to developers. It’s part of a directive instilled by the emirate’s ruler to order and manage growth. As Rice says of the community strength: “There is a strong culture of consolidation, working together and making sure we are not replicating work, and that message is instilled by His Highness.

“It’s about pacing development, intercooperation and team work. While we are trying to grow the emirate as fast as we possibly can do, we want to do it in a sustained way.” It’s a concern echoed across all developing destinations, particularly those with an end point or event to gear towards. However, in generating a pace that matches that of the physical development of the landscape, this example of sustained economic development will incorporate a diverse and outdoors-oriented leisure sector. “Attractions is the next thing to work on,” Rice says, as he begins to reel of the specific third party opportunities. “We’re the only emirate with mountains and they are stunning, so we will develop tourist mechanisms so people can enjoy them better. We’re looking for investors to create mountain

Mountain town, Ras al Khaimah.

An abandoned building in Jazirat al Hamra, Ras al Khaimah.

MAY 2014



lodges or accommodation with outdoor activities or adventure sports, vendors for Bedouin experiences and dune bashing.” TDA has employed the expertise of advisors for the most suitable activities to incorporate, as well as where to place them. These will be complimented by heritage sites, which are currently under UNESCO approval. Driving demand But there is one attraction significantly driving interest in the Emirate. Since its opening in August 2013, Waldorf Astoria has become a physical icon in its own right for Ras Al Khaimah, as well as an internet phenomenon. Rice began his career in digital marketing for daily national newspapers in the UK before moving to Dublin-based, the staple subsidiary of, which it wouldn’t be unfair to classify as an architect of the OTA industry. As managing director of the company and commercial director for Europe, Rice was privileged to a level of knowledge that today gives him the competitive edge to take a different approach to his new role. Keeping a close eye on internet statistics, he is particularly focused on how Ras Al Khamaih indexes on search engines and he can correlate one surprising statistic to the results. “What you can see since August last year is that searches for Ras Al Khaimah travel, index significantly versus the entire travel category. It’s not happening in Abu Dhabi it’s not happening in Dubai and the reason is because of the Waldorf Astoria. “It’s an iconic hotel and we saw that the growth up until the Waldorf opened was good, but after it was fantastic and we have seen that sustain until this day,” he continues adding the subsequent impact will be the ability to propel further growth. Drawing again on his digital background, Rice’s strategy will see

While we are trying to grow the emirate as fast as we possibly can do, we want to do it in a sustained way

prospect targeting used to direct market to people who are searching for information on related travel or Ras Al Khaimah in particular, using Cookie technology. The source market growth strategy doesn’t end there. While the business development team has been doubled since December – with a strong possibility of more jobs to follow – specific team members have been dedicated to markets as diverse as Ras al Khamaih itself: From the GCC to Italy, China and Scandinavia. With a physical marketing presence

MAY 2014

planned for the UK, TDA then plans to consolidate its business in Russia and Germany, with resources into these two markets already hiked. Driving all this is the growing airlift and the Air Arabia introduction at Ras Al Khamaih airport, from May 6 in replacement of the now suspended RAK Airways. Rice concludes: “When I speak to people about everything that is happening at the moment, they all say they have been watching Ras al Khamaih for several years but feel that now is the time to sharpen their interest.”

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The Art of Appreciation In her first interview to the UAE media, Debbie Marriott Harrison reveals the secrets behind Marriott Internationalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s industry leading retention rate, millennial engagement and the importance of storytelling

Marriottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mantle 2013 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14 Work-Life Seal of Distinction from WorldatWorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Alliance for Work-Life Progress

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MAY 2014

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FORTUNE - â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;100 Best Companies to Work Forâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (#57)




arriott International is an award winning employer. In fact, for the last 18 years without fail the all American hotelier has been named as one of the world’s top 100 employers by some of the most prominent industry analysts, from Fortune to the Sunday Times (see below) and the achievements don’t end there. Statistically, Marriott International has the highest average GM retention rate across the industry, beating the benchmark six-fold, at 24 years versus four. Also note, across a global portfolio of 3,700 hotels, 30% of those GMs are female. It’s an impressive feat for any company, let alone one with such an organic growth story, but the family ethos from which Marriott continues to prosper is both the cause and result of its achievements. The woman heading the initiatives which have cultivated the satisfaction of associates, as well as guests, is Debbie Marriott Harrison. Granddaughter of Marriott founders JW and Alice, the street-side root beer vendors from Washington DC who went on to found one of the largest international operators of today, Marriott-Harrison began working at the company as a teenager on the front desk at Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington. After a 27 year hiatus to raise her children, she was appointed to SVP government affairs, following the retirement of her predecessor and his personal recommendation that she continue his work. In 2013, following the passing of her brother, Marriott-Harrison was appointed to the role of culture officer.

And in the world of hospitality there is a lot to be said about culture. While she also works extensively on Marriott’s business councils, she describes her role as being that of the “guardian of our culture”. Speaking exclusively to Hospitality Business , she explains: “My role is to be the guardian of our culture and to keep our values alive. It’s a wonderful role for me to preserve our family legacy in this job. “Our culture is what makes us special. Culture differs around the world, but our core values don’t change. Those things should never change and they are at the heart of what we believe in,” she adds. Yet creating core values and preserving culture, is no mean feat. What is your root beer stand? JW Marriott hung signs above every kitchen door to remind those first associates: “If you take care of the employee, the employee will take care of the customer and the customer will come back again and again”. But the passing of time is often the enemy of ethos. An associate’s performance in the workplace is the result of a cultural cross section between their nationality, specific property experience and the wider company attitude towards its clients and employees. Without reinforcement, and with outside influence, it easily becomes diluted, and there is a very real bottom line effect when those three factors fail to align. “We know that our culture attracts and retains our talent and a good company culture adds shareholder and company value,” she continues. Cementing this, in the month of

My role is to be the guardian of our culture and to keep our values alive

Corporation of the Year – The Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Black MBA Association

Great Places to Work Institute® - World’s Best Multinational Workplaces  

“2013 Working Mother 100 Best Companies” for 22nd year, from Working Mother

Keeping it in the family Deborah Marriott Harrison, an honours graduate of Brigham Young University, has held several positions within Marriott since 1975, including accounting positions at Marriott Headquarters and operations positions at Key Bridge and Dallas Marriott hotels. Prior to her culture position she led Marriott’s Government Affairs Team for seven years. She participates on various committees and boards, including but not limited to the Mayo Clinic Leadership Council for the District of Columbia and the boards of the Bullis School, the D.C. College Access Program, the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, and Marriott Vacations Worldwide. She has also served on the boards of several mental health organisations, including The National Institute of Mental Health Advisory Board, Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association, and the Centre for The Advancement of Children’s Mental Health in association with Columbia University.

May across the global portfolio of 18 brands, Marriott will celebrate its 16 th Associate Appreciation Week and Awards of Excellence. Each hotel receives a tool kit of events and ideas to mark excellence, diversity, inclusion and heritage of associates; the theme is celebration. This is Marriott-Harrison’s first Appreciation Week since the appointment to culture officer and she is using the opportunity to introduce Marriott to the concept of ‘storytelling’. It’s one of the top corporate buzz words of recent months; a connection

Global Vision Award by Immigration Equality (U.S. immigration law for LGBT and HIV-positive individuals)

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The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR)



tool endorsed by business psychology authors, motivational speakers and top CEOs looking to spark passion in employees, on a peer-to-peer basis. Creating connection through narrative, the private sector has so much faith in the method it is touted as the biggest business skill of the next five years. Marriottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s approach to storytelling will see associates given a platform upon which to share their personal stories of success in the workplace, during their Marriott careers. A selection will be shared during Innovation Week in October.

Telling her own story, MarriottHarrison elaborates: â&#x20AC;&#x153;My grandparents drove across the US and opened a root beer stand in 1927 so I want the theme for this activity to be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;what is your root beer stand?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; meaning, what is your commitment to the company and what kind of opportunities has Marriott given to you.â&#x20AC;? Opportunity knocks One thing that could blemish the track record is the integration of a millennial workforce. While the Gen Y traveller is figured out, the internal cultural

Amy Macpherson, President, Marriott International, Europe.

Kathleen Matthews, EVP Global Communications

Stephanie Linnartz, Chief Marketing and

and Public Affairs.

Commercial Officer.

strength of Marriott will be tested by the Gen Y workforce. Gen Y â&#x20AC;&#x201C; almost as prominent in business-speak today as storytelling â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is identified by Marriott-Harrison as a potential game-changer. She is ever aware that an evolving generational culture could impact Marriottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s envied retention record. In China the stakes are even higher. 


 Foundation is partnering with universities to deliver a hospitality education curriculum that will see Marriott welcome 70,000, mostly Gen Y associates to its workforce in response to an opening rate of one hotel a week across the country. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Generally, they travel differently, think differently and are more likely move around to different jobs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In the US the statistics are that Millennials have six jobs in their first 10 years after graduating from college, so we have to figure out ways to keep them interested and occupied. We have to give them faster promotions and promote our purpose driven and community minded company,â&#x20AC;? she says. Another draw for the career-focused would be Marriottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s track record for a gender balanced workforce. There is no doubt Marriott-Harrison is the first lady of the company in terms of presence, but she is far from the only female in the upper echelons of senior management. Over the course of the last decade, the number of senior leadership roles held by women has increased 300% (see images). Globally, 60% of managers are female. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an industry bucking trend as women continually outnumber men in hospitality education but rarely hold the executive roles. In the Middle East, the most watched           include a single woman in its top 10 for the previous two years.

Marriottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mantle 2013      Companies for Hourly Workersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for the fourth consecutive year.

DiversityIncâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Top 50 Companies for Diversity  

National Association for Female Executives    Companies for Women in 2013â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

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2013 Corporate Award from Executive Leadership Council (ELC)

Ethisphere Institute â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Most Ethical Companies 2013









Generally, females achieve higher results in high school and university; are effective communicators; and demonstrate greater levels of empathy and maturity than their male counter parts, all attributes backed with research by the Centre for Creative Leadership and Harvard Business School. And all attributes vital to effective management. Forbes magazine reports the FTSE 100 company executive boards today       members are female.   

  Leadership Development Initiative, Marriot is this year ranked number 10      !" #$  Women list, compiled by National Association for Female Executives (NAFE). It is consistently recognised

with other such awards (see below). As a women who herself took time out of the workforce to raise children, Marriott-Harrison is more than qualified to talk on the subject. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To women who are thinking of doing both, being a mother and having a career, you can do it! I have learned that you can also reinvent yourself. The skills that I learned from raising a big family helped me more than anything else in my job because I think mothers are the best managers.â&#x20AC;?

A good company culture adds shareholder and company value

Champion of Diversity    Urban Leagueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s New York

The bottom line The 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Report states 78% of business leaders see engagement and retention as an â&#x20AC;&#x153;urgent or important issueâ&#x20AC;?, concluding it is one of businessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Alliance for Workplace Excellence (based in Montgomery County)

FORTUNE - â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Most Admired Companiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;

biggest competitive differentiators. Noting a clear and defined commitment to hire a diverse workforce and sustain its inclusive culture, the conclusion that echoes from Marriott is one of competitive advantage. But how can workplaces replicate its success? It is here the idea of storytelling returns. Marriott-Harrison reports todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive board is comprised of a number of employees who began their Marriott careers as hourly employees: a pastry chef, a restaurant waiter and college student, a security officer. Seeing a career path, each rose through the organisationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ranks, beneficiaries of an approach that sees promotion favoured from within. Answering the million dollar question, Marriott-Harrison concludes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The secret, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really no secret, is making people feel they are part of a bigger family and creating opportunities for them.â&#x20AC;?

Work-Life Seal of Distinction from WorldatWorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Alliance for Work-Life ProgressÂŽ (AWLP)

MAY 2014

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22/04/2014 4/22/1410:29:02 1:58 PM

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Re-inventing the wheel Project economics no longer focus on the bottom line. In the face of value engineering, designers from across the hospitality interiors spectrum are responding with new team dynamics and futureproof products. Hospitality Business leads the debate


s far as trends in the design of hospitality interiors go, the eyes of the world’s experts are on the development of new brands focused on lifestyle and boundary-pushing design, the integration of technology and an awareness of more contemporary influences, from art to technology. But when localising the topic to

analyse the trends in the design of hospitality interiors in Dubai, the issues too become local. In an anomalistic environment, where everything from the pace of development to the sheer level of occupancy far outstrips what is seen elsewhere, it’s only natural that the market will have its own nuances. In terms of project execution, realisation of ambition and results,

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the UAE far outstrips any other GCC country. The effect? A market that is highly reactive. Since November 2013, that reaction has been to one event, six years away. Industry experts from across the interior design spectrum report an increase in activity almost in-synch with the hype in the media. They see new project types and even echoes of global trends filtering through, from lifestyle and ‘Gen Y brands’ to individual F&B concepts. What changes in the development of hotel rooms have you observed recently? Phil Osbourne: Whether or not it’s just Dubai or the UAE, or it’s a global issue, we are seeing a lot more value engineering. Everybody wants the highest quality, but nobody wants to pay for it. We are being squeezed to such a degree we have to walk away from



From top left: Manesh Balani, director, Orsini SPI; Francois Galoisy, GM, Radisson Blu Media City;Mirko Aru, hotel manager, The Address Dubai Marina; Tarek Ardakani, int’l associate AIA, GM business development, Bond Interiors; Phil Osborne, business director, Tai Ping; Amelie Zegmout, head of business development, Legrand; Marcos Cain, MD, Stickman Interiors; Baiju Jamaludin, regional sales manager, Burgess Furniture; Leila Abdul Rahim, director, HBA; Carly Dubery, Tai Ping.

some projects and instead of serving the whole 5-star market we are more focused by brand or certain contacts or relationships we have. Leila Abdul Rahim: Unfortunately this is a reality we see in interior design as well, especially in stalled projects now coming back online. Then when you look at them the spaces themselves are completely unusable to the extent that on occasion a bed doesn’t fit once you have placed the curtains. We are also finding the completion of things that are just not up to par. Marcos Cain: Another issue is procurement and budgets. People are revisting budgets for projects that were set five years ago and without considering the technological advances and if the brand standards have been updated, they expect the same price today. LAR: We have a project that stopped

about five years ago but because the client spent a quarter of their budget then, they only want to spend the remainder now. It’s unrealistic. Francois Galoisy: The lifespan of technology in rooms is shorter than the purchasing time. You purchase something for five years and a product is obsolete within three. Also, the omnipresence of WiFi means it’s no longer a plug on the desk, it’s constant coverage. In terms of projects and technology there is work to be done on how the technological infrastructure is included in a room plan. MC: That is improving and integration is possible now, which is one of the issues affecting brand guidelines. Those guidelines, I believe, should be updated annually, if not biannually with the current pace of innovation. Added to this you also have the issue of what was specified four years ago – technology, OS&E FF&E, interior design, accessories. You have a situation where, especially in the ‘Gen Y hotels’, where all tech is integrated throughout one system, nobody can keep up. From the operator, the brand guidelines, the budget. There’s a whole gambit of stuff.

developers. They call suppliers directly and unfortunately they disregard the specifications and want something different. For example, Legrand will be specified for a certain finish by a designer but the developer will call and ask us to go with the second option. This is for wiring accessories, switches and sockets, specifically. Often the second choice doesn’t fit the room. We didn’t have this drive from developers in the past. We didn’t even used to meet them, because we worked through the consultants. Secondly, for international manufacturers cheap does not mean bad design. The market needs to understand that R&D can propose economical ranges that could match the design requirements of a certain level of hotel design. LAR: More and more companies see now that they can create products that meet the demand between good, which is perceived expensive, and cheap, which is perceived bad. However not many clients who know because it’s not in the contractor’s interest to tell them. AZ: Designers will ask us how the proposal for option two would look and it’s good that we are being challenged to provide different options and not to over specify.

The market needs to understand that R&D can propose economical ranges

If the pace at which operators buy technology is too slow for the innovations released to the market, do you predict a natural re-adjustment where products are released more slowly? MC: It depends on their commercial alliance. There are supressed markets for various reasons and then there are the progressive markets that go against the mould, which are generally the most successful in the end because they push boundaries. But the boundaries aren’t being pushed anyway, they are just utilising what is available now and being cut from a corporate model. Returning to the point of value engineering. Is this development a surprise? Amelie Zegmout: It has always existed but today I see it driven by

MAY 2014

Why is value engineering so much more prominent today? AZ: We do guest room management systems and we have seen that a few years ago the demand was for the tactile plates and the integrated sleek control systems with black glass plates and LEDs. Then they realised that in the hotels guests couldn’t work them and they were constantly calling front desk for assistance. So now we’re shifting back to simple solutions, which are consistent with other wiring devices. Hotels work with the contractors, but they also need to consider the end user. Tarek Ardakani: The basics of most projects today are not understood. The majority of hotels we work with were already under construction when the



crisis hit. The owners and investors had already finalised with the operator, got the funds, then stopped. They come back now and want to re-start. Looking from their point of view, they just want to open and I think this is a phase we will go through for another couple of years, to clean the market so to speak. The operators are also aware of this and they want to open these hotels, they have commitments to the bank. Every dirham counts but not everybody understands that quality saves money. What we need to do is understand from the investor point of view and comprehend what they are doing so we can meet their expectations until further notice. LAR: There are two kinds of owners. The ones who have done hotels before, who understand and are likely to do it right and because of 2020 and the strength of Dubai, you have the first time owners. They are the ones who want the quick ROI. You either have to go with it, educating them as you go, or not deal with them. Manesh Balani: Recently, projects have been dominated by government or semigovernment entities, with a little more money to spend. At that time, Dubai was building its profile in terms of 5-star and luxury developments. What we find now is more individual owners; private money. Many of these bought legacy projects and are now trying to finish them, but have realised their budget doesn’t stretch. They are trying to make it work by cutting back on quality, going around the operator requirements and pushing the designers to re-specify; cutting back on in-room facilities, meeting the lowest DTCM requirements and then pushing hoteliers on procurement. MC: Reflecting on the 4-star and 5-star issue, what classifies those properties isn’t a comparable measure and it can even be archaic. We are driving a force on something that is being superseeded outwardly. Budget is an issue, procurement, classification; all these things when we start to look at the future of hospitality and design, such

as Gen Y and product innovation. There are hyper-local issues that affect what is happening here, first. What’s the reaction from the operators? Mirko Aru: From the operational stance I agree, but over the last two years in Dubai there have been many new 4-star brands, which are very successful, and the design is all about fresh, modern and tech integrated. They are more profitable than the grand 5-star properties with hundreds of rooms and dozens of restaurants. I predict the next trend will be smaller 4-star hotels, with select F&B franchised out, and a fresh and simple look. LAR: Most operators are launching new brands in this way, but really those 4-star properties here are four plus in other regions. FG: These brands meet the expectations of the local Gen Y guests, also. MC: It’s a single market. I totally agree with the comments on the 4-star market, but I think there is another segment to open up. 3-star and backpacker hotels could be huge in this region. It’s about practicality. It’s not all about the finish and FF&E. What do I need and what do I get? That’s asked as a traveller or millennial. FG: Rezidor is are also looking at new brands to meet these markets. MA: We also have to focus on healthcare. If you come to Dubai for a treatment, you’re not going to stay 5-star, so that market will see growth soon too. That will be a great chance for designers to be creative and to understand how to generate business in another environment. And remember what makes 3-star in Dubai, is 5-star somewhere else.

The range of what you can create when looking at all those things is wide

So regardless of the global design trends affecting markets elsewhere, this region is about ingenuity in the development of mid-market brands and an awareness of tourism generated outside of the standard business and leisure segments?

MAY 2014



LAR: Dubai is an anomaly, it’s such a broad mix of people. The German traveller is looking for something affordable and well located because they spend on the activities and culture. Then you have people who are looking at the elevated level. HBA is working on a palatial hotel right now close to a hospital, with a design tailored to the guests from Saudi Arabia who come for treatment and bring an entourage. They won’t stay below that level. For us as designers it’s incredibly exciting. We look at the target market, location, the facilities needed. The range of what you can create when looking at all those things is wide. The level of investment and ROI demands from the lower market segments are very different. Is that a concern in terms of the budgets these developers and owners may be willing to commit to? All: Yes. Phil: For us the concern is reversed. We all have our niche markets but when you are on the luxury side you do wonder where business will come from if the industry is focused on lifestyle and midmarket. FG: It’s also a concern for the operator. Most operators have several brands and they have diversified from their luxury offering because you cannot rely on 5-star to survive. LAR: HBA diversifies into different sectors under new brands in order to prevent the dilution of HBA. For the 2-star and 3-star sector globally, we introduced Studio two years ago. It opened in Dubai this year and instead of value engineering the work we do, we reduce costs by using designers whose hourly fee is less, for example. The work is all to HBA standards, but we have looked at how we can reduce costs for other markets, while still using a quality model. MB: We found that issue with procurement. 3-star and 4-star brands with designers who are used to working on 5-star and as a result over specify. It’s difficult for that mind-shift to happen and to bring projects down to the cost level they need to be. LAR: Not only the mind-set but the knowledge of the supplier isn’t there.

MAY 2014



MC: I want to throw a curve ball on that, when it comes to price, the cost of designing a building and the facts of the project are the same regardless of the end use of that asset. There are efficiencies you can make in construction but for our work we would charge as we would for any project. There is a certain level of knowledge that you need in order to work on any project, and that costs money. There are ways to get a value product with intelligent design, just by looking at delivery of the project and milestones. FG: Is the definition style or luxury? MC: It has to be the brief. A 5-star brief is a list, 3-star is a concept. AZ: Always think about the end user, that’s the answer. LAR: A lot of brands are now allowing us much more creative freedom in the beginning and they have standards and guidelines, but let us go for it. MA: There is a global shift in luxury and style. People are asking what it is and trying to understand how it changes between age groups. The old days of the opulent hotel in London and New York are over and it will change again within the decade. MC: You’re looking at new brands and building alternatives for new market segments. As an operator, based on your existing brands, what is the longevity from the current perspective of the new brands you introduce today? And what does that say about the existing parent brand when you push out the new brands? MA: Existing brands develop at a slower pace than the new brands. Take Waldorf Astoria and compare it to the pace of development for Hilton’s mid-market brands. It’s about combining long term vision with new opportunities. FG: Rezidor has introduced two new brands in response to the lifestyle trend, similarly to Starwood and Emaar. These brands are about practicality, from the functionality of a room to supporting a guest’s lifestyle. Only 15% of our guests

install to make that project future-proof. A major issue is flexibility.

use the bath, so why spend money on a bath when they value a good shower? This isn’t regimented by star ratings, this is a reaction to guest demand. LAR: People remember the quality of the shower, coffee and mattress. It’s not about over-complication, it’s about usability and comfort. There is so much out there it’s about how intelligently you use that. Design is about brilliant ideas, not expense. Looking again at technology and connectivity. We have spoken of how investment is behind innovation, but what about future-proofing current projects? Especially in the cabling field. AZ: It’s hugely expensive. The infrastructure behind technology is just as important as what the guest sees. We have been awarded a project for infrastructure cabling in a 1600 room property and the discussion today is what generation of cable we will

They just want to open and I think this is a phase we will go through for another couple of years

MAY 2014

PO: As Interior designers how do you keep on top of the technology and innovation? MC: We have staff who are sourcing daily, it’s their whole job. There are multiple websites and various other sources of information, but the thing is to make sure certain products aren’t too ahead of time. LAR: Most of the designers are very passionate about that and they are very excited to find out something new, we have articles of the week and so on, and we have suppliers visiting us on a weekly basis. When it comes to products, we like to see and experience them and architects have technical questions. In the end, when we literally partner with our clients, we are not just creating something pretty, we are in business with them to create something that is financially viable in future. For stone, sanitary ware, etc. don’t go cheap because those things last a long time. It’s the same with hardware. Looking now at green-tech, sustainability is often about energy management and recycling. Considering innovations in sourcing, new products, FSC certified wood, what is your observation of demand? MC: It’s more of an operator issue. Designers can push within the requirements as a duty of care, but the decision comes from the operator and developer. TA: Materials are easier to find. Before there was little market awareness but we


enjoy doing it and it is happening much faster now. There is demand for it. Bond Interiors executed Du’s LEED Platinum projects, for example, and much of the time it feeds back into their CSR. There is a really organic growth in it today.

MB: We are working on a lot of projects that stalled in 2008 and the buildings may have been completed or the owners have spent a little at a time to complete the structure, but now they are spending on interiors. At the same time, we are getting RFPs for new builds. As an industry we only get busy after everybody else.

This isn’t regimented by star ratings, this is a reaction to guest demand

Is business recovered to the extent the media reports it has, and is there as much work, and money, in the market as we are led to believe? PO: I personally think, just looking at Dubai, the media does a great job in advertising the potential and positivity of the city. They are constantly talking about the hotel pipeline, for instance, and I think there is overhype and that no, it isn’t as positive as the media reports. MB: I have heard everything from 250 to 700 new hotels. LAR: The media of course is creating hype, but it is part of what they do. However, at the same time we have seen a huge increase in the number of RFPs coming in. The demand is huge. TA: The demand is coming. The day after the Expo announcement I was receiving calls from people who had left Dubai previously and wanted to work here again, we have to be wary of the possibility of another dip. LAR: Clients still don’t have huge budgets. Everybody knows they need to get in before things really boom, but they are being cautious. FG: Dubai occupancy is way above the global average, but it’s another anomaly. Developers look at where occupancy averages 70% so when you’re running at 90% there is no hesitation. MC: Another thing to stress is that the operator is coming at the end, the supplier mid-way to the latter end, so generally if interior design is seeing a lot of RFPs then work is coming, without a doubt. The conversions aren’t there yet, but the demand is and it’s a full time job to keep on top of that and constantly send them out. LAR: And those projects are different; 5-star, 4-star, mixed use. TA: We get a lot also and we don’t feel they are all serious, but they are all planning.

What that upturn does fully happen, learning from past experience, how willing would you be to work with companies – suppliers, clients – that aren’t locally based? And if not, how far away is too far? AZ: I find one challenge to be with interior designers based outside of Dubai and coordinating with them as a supplier, is a nightmare. On one


project we have designers in Hong Kong and nobody here, it’s very difficult to manage LAR: We had a call from a developer on a prestigious job, who can’t work with the interior designer abroad and needs now to start over. My first question was why because I know they are a great firm, but it was because they were not physically present here. The relationship overseas was so difficult and communication is difficult in the easiest of circumstances, especially with email, which has created a very strange business behaviour. You need to be in the same city. Even Oman is too far when you count travel time. MC: That’s the reason we set up an office in Hong Kong because we have so many projects in Asia, which helped us survive when work was tight. It’s a lot of travel, but in saying that we set up that office for that reason. MB: What we do for FF&E and OS&E isn’t related to onsite activities, but it’s very important for us to have that access to the interior designer and to buy from China to have them coming to the factory and to ensure we have the owner and operator on the same page, especially for alternative or customised items. TA: We find it ok because we have our specifications to work to regardless and we have clients all over the GCC.

Hospitality Business would like to thank The Address Dubai Marina for hosting this discussion in its meeting facilities.

MAY 2014



    ROI Hotel designer, chair of the Interior Design Association and RSA fellow, Charles Leon,                           to accept old age and understand the social potential of spaces. I think that there is also a recognition that spaces can be experiential rather than just functional. Probably there is also a sense that the class pretentions of a previous generation have been replaced by a different type of exclusivity and luxury. Charles Leon chair of the Interior Design Association and RSA fellow


hat are the main trends in hospitality design currently? Without any doubt there are two strong trends. The first has come about in part following a technological development in LED lighting and in part as a response to recent artists such as James Turrell. I think it is the recognition of the emotional effect that coloured light has on our moods. Emotional responses of this kind have long been the domain of theatre and film, but lately weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen it used by artists and still more recently by design. This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exactly new, cathedrals have been using this sort of emotional manipulation for centuries. Interestingly too, shape, form and scale, in conjunction with light, natural or artificial or both, are being used to strengthen the observerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s response. The ability to â&#x20AC;&#x153;sculptâ&#x20AC;? spaces with light is very attractive for designers. The other trend is a sort of urban savvy chic. A kind of down-to-earth, in-the-know trend, which views chic as dystopian city life. There is a kind of reverse psychology here; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hip to be un-cool (and that makes it cool). I think this trend was started by Ian Schrager and Herbert Ypma (Hip Hotels) and has been brought forward by Citizen M and others. There is a kind of yearning by a generation that refuse

RevPAR in the Middle East today is fast becoming Rev/sqm. What part can design play in this? The shift from RevPar to Rev/sqm reflects the change in hotel ownership and the recognition of the property boom. Hoteliers used to own hotels, now they operate and individuals or organisations own. Good design supports and extends the ownerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dreams and aims and it can do the same for the operators. The question here is how much is an owner or an operator is prepared to risk for innovative design? If itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s works the owners and the operators reap the benefit. If it fails the consequences are huge; in reputation as well as financially.

occupancy and are concerned with the strength of their brands, which allows them to sell further and wider. The rapidly growing, hungry market in the Middle East has seen some very courageous owners, eager to consume good design and willing to go the extra mile, to take the chance on innovative design. The risk is high, but the rewards can also be high. Design absolutely has to take risks and that means some will fail. Luckily some succeed and raise the bar. Who are your greatest design influences in the [hospitality interior] industry? I believe that designers need to be polymaths. We need to be interested in everything. The development of conceptual, lit spaces, assisted by recent developments in LED and coloured light, by artists such as James Turrell, Dan Flavin and Doug Wheeler are already influencing how we experience spaces.

If it works the owners and the operators reap the   

 the consequences are huge

How do you compromise between the needs of the operator and the desire of the owner? Hotel operators want to be â&#x20AC;&#x153;on-brandâ&#x20AC;? because brands deliver returns. Owners often want to buy into the brand because they are also risk averse. Designers want to design. Designers want to innovate. There-in lies the tension. By their very nature designers want to lead. Designers believe in their designs. Owners arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t concerned with belief, but are concerned with their financial return and their status. Operators want to lead financially and in

MAY 2014

Charles Leon trained originally as a theatre designer and has worked with      theatre, dance and opera groups. This       design and it was whilst working in    join a team of international of hotel designers. In 1997 Charles set up his own design practice, CLA, specialising     the range of the company to incorporate architecture, residential, spa and   Charles has given lectures, talks and       design thinking.



How to choose a renovation contractor Eight tips for an easier life, by David Cook, founder of UAE Compare that was carried out and ask for a rating for key deliverables including quality, cost, customer service, communication and delivery. If the total rating across the three clients is less than 90%, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t use that contractor.

David Cook Managing Partner of UAE Compare


hether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re changing kitchen cabinets, tiling a bathroom or completely fitting out a new room or restaurant, it is important to get the right contractors on board from the start. Any renovation project can be stressful and time consuming, even in the best of circumstances, and sifting out the good contractors from the bad can make all the difference to the end result, as well as the quality of your life during the project timeframe.

1. Go online Although search engines canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell you how good a contractor is, it is a good place to start your research into the companies you have heard about. 2. Talk to people around you Ask your neighbours, friends or surrounding businesses who they have used and whether they would recommend them. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t settle for â&#x20AC;&#x153;they were OK.â&#x20AC;? If the person you speak to doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sing the contractorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s praises, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t call.

5. Seeing is believing There are always differences in expectation when it comes to the finished product. Make sure you visit at least one completed project for each of the contractors. Remember, what one person considers a perfect finish, you may not!

three estimates from contractors youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be happy to use and be wary of any contractors whose quotes seem too good to be true - they will be. 8. Get it in writing first From the start, make sure that everything discussed and agreed upon is acknowledged in writing and signed. A lot of the cowboy contractors will agree to almost anything verbally if it means winning the deal.

It is important to ask a lot of questions, even if you know the answers

6. Question everything As language is often a barrier in this part of the world, it is important to ask a lot of questions, even if you know the answers. You need to be sure you can communicate in a way youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy with so that there are no crossed wires. If the contractor avoids difficult questions or you feel they are not being honest, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hire them. You need to have trust - these are people that are going to be in your hotel for a substantial period of time! 7. Have a comparison It is vital to get multiple quotes for any renovation work. How do you know youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re getting a good deal if you have nothing to compare it to? Get

Once you find someone that you trust and feel comfortable with, make sure you ask the following questions to ensure that you understand and are happy with the way the project will be delivered: t â&#x20AC;&#x153;When can you start?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;How long will it take to complete the job?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;How many people do you have working for you?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;Will you be outsourcing any elements of the project?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;Will you personally be on the job every day?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do you guarantee your work, and for how long?â&#x20AC;? t â&#x20AC;&#x153;Does the quote include absolutely everything that I need to pay to get the job completed?â&#x20AC;?

UAE Compare has a hub of more than 50 approved contractors in both the residential and commercial sectors, which have all been individually checked, tested and approved. David Cook         2009. Before moving to the UAE, David spent ten years buying, renovating and selling properties across his home country of Wales whilst holding a senior position within a high street bank. As Managing Partner of UAE Compare, David is keen to continue the successful growth of the business in the future.

3. Stay local Hire someone with local and relevant experience. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take a risk on any company that has not successfully completed work that is similar to the work that you need carried out. 4. Get them rated Call three previous clients for every contractor that you are considering. Be sure that you know the scope of work

MAY 2014

t Tell us your business objectives

t Let our expert team bring

together a panel of decision makers for you to meet at a roundtable discussion

t Coverage in Hospitality Business

magazine, read by 20,000+ industry experts





The rise of the hotel app

What is the true business opportunity in the use of apps in the hotel industry? Eric Rogers, regional head EMEA, FCS Computer Systems says 2014 will be the year of the app

Eric Rogers Regional head EMEA, FCS Computer Systems


hat is the true business opportunity in the use of apps in the hotel industry? That’s probably the question I get asked most often by our clients. For us at FCS it’s all about using mobile technology to improve guest satisfaction, increase productivity and drive revenue. In my view, 2014 will be the year of the mobile app. A recent survey of hotels worldwide, conducted by Hospitality Technology, found that there has

been an increase in the use of digital technologies between 2012 and 2013, which is not really surprising. What’s interesting though is that 70% of respondents said they are expected to employ a mobile app by 2015 and 39% of hotels are planning to implement mobile payment solutions. Hospitality Technology’s 2013 Customer Engagement Technology Study also looked at the use of mobile apps and the features offered (see infographic). Making reservations was the most commonly used feature at 72%, followed by 50% for property searches. 44% of hotels used the feature to submit real-time guest survey feedback, 41% offered information about the surrounding area and 38% used the feature to access loyalty account information. Hoteliers have truly embraced technology over the past decade or so; they now lead rather than follow and are keen to pioneer new technologies. When it comes to mobile apps though, I believe that we as an industry need

How do guests use apps? Making reservations was the most commonly used feature at 72%, followed by 50% for property searches. 44% of hotels used the feature to submit real-time guest survey feedback,    information about the surrounding area and 38% used the feature to access loyalty account information.

Hotels to employ a mobile app by 2015

70% 39% $25.8 bn


Hotels plan to implement mobile payment solutions

Value of mobile bookings in 2014 reorted by PhocusWright in 2014 via smartphones and tablets

Of all travel sales to be booked on mobile by 2017, up from 8% this year

MAY 2014

to think about how we use them in a more proactive and interactive way. For example, we should consider how we can use apps to engage a guest before, during and after their stay, and how to securely manage the BYOD (bring your own device) trend. We realise more than anyone in the industry that this is easier said than done. Having to manage 50- 80 systems on average, representing some 40- 70 vendors, hotel IT departments struggle to stay ahead of the game and manage their systems effectively. Combine this with the BYOD trend; with guests now looking to connect, charge and use a multitude of mobile devices during their stay, this has serious implications on resource allocation within hotel IT teams. Many apps, no solutions Today, hotels have access to many great apps, but managing the many applications available within a single property or hotel group is a big challenge. Interfacing is a huge issue in getting diverse solutions to talk to each other and when something goes wrong between two systems, it is always the other company’s fault. Fortunately there are non-profit organisations such as Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) that work towards easy interoperability amongst hotel systems through the publishing of standards and specifications. Regardless of these hurdles, we should never lose sight of our guests; the millennial generation that is now staying in hotels is growing and hotels need to find a way to accommodate their ever-changing needs and requirements, especially when it comes to technology. Not that long ago broadband was the differentiator that travellers looked for, now it is as essential as running water. It took a few years, but with the way technology develops, the mobile app


will soon become a standard feature in our industry. Our motto is: it’s all about how you integrate, not just interface, and that’s where I see the opportunity for the use of mobile apps in hotels. The right apps, when used well, will help enhance the guest experience, increase brand recognition and drive revenue. Enhancing the guest experience Let’s tackle them one by one. Firstly, how can we enhance the guest experience in our hotels through mobile apps? Choose apps that help you respond to guest requests faster, by managing them as close to the source as possible. For example, apps can help you channel a guest request to the housekeeper that is closest to the guest’s room, not just the department, which helps improve productivity and enables hotels to service guests faster. Taking this one step further, why not allow guests to ‘self- service’ if they prefer to do so by booking their

spa treatments and making restaurant reservations directly from their mobile app into the hotel system? Currently only 34% of hotels that have Mobile apps feature restaurant and spa reservations on their apps, see the opportunity here? Secondly, how can apps help increase brand recognition? By engaging with guests not just during their stay, but also before and after. Through a mobile app, give guests access to hotel and destination information before they arrive and allow them to interact with a concierge throughout their stay, not just at the counter in the lobby, but on the go from their own mobile device. Rather than guests having to explore and consult a multitude of online websites and resources, why not become the ultimate, branded, resource for destination information as a hotel? From app to bank Lastly, how do we drive revenue through apps? Make it extremely easy for guests


to book, not just their room; but also any product or service in the hotel, from tables in your restaurants and treatments at the spa to excursions and airport transfers. If you make it easy and convenient, and available on the device of their choice, guests will be more inclined to book additional services whilst at the hotel. PhocusWright reports that in 2014 mobile bookings via smartphones and tablets-will grow to $25.8 billion, representing 8% of the total travel market. eMarketer predicts that this number will reach 30% of all travel sales by 2017. These numbers continue to prove that hoteliers must prioritise the optimisation of their website’s user experience for their guests on mobile devices as it will help drive more direct traffic to your hotel website. Through the use of mobile apps we can deliver on these key drivers of success in the hotel industry so I say, let’s make 2014 the year of the mobile app.



! L&D in hospitality                                   Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, director of professional training and development, Karyn Williams-Sykes, 

Karyn Williams-Sykes Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management


â&#x20AC;&#x2122;m the product of a very academic family â&#x20AC;&#x201C; my mother was a primary school senior teacher; grandfather was a school principal; aunts who taught at high school; elder cousins who are university lecturers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we are taught to put â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;books firstâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; from day one. So I believe in the value of books and in doing book work. When you understand HOW and WHY things are done, you are able to DO it so much better and you are also able to look for better ways to do it. When we only train people on-the-job, we run the risk of teaching them ONE way to do things. When we truly educated people, then we release their creativity and change their perspective. The hospitality industry is so dynamic and competitive, you have to constantly be reinventing yourself and tweaking what you do in order to keep ahead of the game; this creativity can come from anywhere, if we empower our teams to really understand the importance of what they do. The need for investing in training and development in the hospitality industry is not always apparent to all. One of the comments I hear all the time from managers in this industry is: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why should I train and invest in my staff? I train them and they leave!â&#x20AC;? So I ask: â&#x20AC;&#x153;What do you think would happen if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t train them? Well, they might still

leave, but before they do they will ruin your name and reputation. â&#x20AC;? In this business, your reputation is EVERYTHING! You get one chance to make a good impression and this responsibility is carried on the shoulders of every single member of your team. So how can you think it is ok not to have an on-going, comprehensive learning and development plan for every single member of your organisation? How can you think that this is not worth investing in? When you invest in your team, you are investing in your business in a very tangible way, as they are the persons meeting your customer, face to face on a daily basis. They are gaining your customers and building your reputation in a positive way. Which do you think is more cost effective: a) firing the waiter who messes up the order and then is rude to the guest or b) training that waiter in the first place to deliver the service you would be proud of? Training cannot be viewed as a one-off injection that gives immunity forever. It is an on-going, developmental process. We train for basic foundation skills then later we need to develop cognitive skills in all our team members. Do you want them to keep coming back to you with insipid questions? Or would it be better for them to think of answers and solutions for themselves? We need to empower our teams, and for this kind of responsibility we must prepare them sufficiently. Training is also a powerful motivational tool. When you show that you believe in your associates enough to invest in their development, you can change how they feel about themselves and their self-worth. They begin to see a future and not just todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job; an actual career with you.

MAY 2014

There is a great deal of flexible and multi-dimensional training options for the hospitality industry today: online, distance learning, part-time programmes, modular deliveries, cross department exposure. A plethora of learning and development options that work within the never closing demands of the hotel business. There are options for internationally accredited certifications, with lapel pins and laudable titles to motivate your team members and give them a real zeal for more learning and more ideas for individual job improvements. Remember, in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s competitive, global tourism market, the option not to train is simply not an option. Your competition is training every day. All the hotel groups with the highest reputations have solid, focussed L&D departments, with on-going training programmes and professional development courses. If you run a small or independent establishment, you may not have the resources for a full scale training department, but there are good providers in the market who can work with you and within your budget to support your developmental needs. Invest in your most important resource â&#x20AC;&#x201C; your Human Resource!

A graduate of the University of the West Indies, Centre for Hotel and Tourism Management with a BSc. (Hons.) in Hotel Management, Karyn also has her MBA from the University of Leicester, UK and is an American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AH&LEI) Certified Hospitality Trainer and a WSET Certified Educator. In the past six years in Professional Training & Development, Karyn has designed, developed and delivered a wide range of training to many organisations.



ISOLATED LUXURY From the Rub-Al-Khali Desert to the Indian Ocean, hoteliers are 


                                  Sophie McCarrick


ver developing technology, transportation and means of communication, continuously ease the functional challenges placed on resorts situated in remote locations, however amidst modernisation the hotels face unique operational challenges on a daily basis. Whether it be for a digital detoxing weekend away, or a family adventure to a unique spot, there are numerous reasons why trips to remote resorts are growing in popularity, but as demand increases the strain on simple operational aspects such as generation of electricity, sourcing fresh F&B, and transportation

MAY 2014

to and from the isolated areas becomes increasingly testing. Taking on the task, general managers from the Seychelles Raffles Praslin, The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi in the Maldives and Tilal Liwa in the Rub-Al-Khali Desert, explain that when operating a hotel located in a secluded destination they deal with a range of specific issues, however are also presented with a selection of unique opportunities. Island and desert life alike, presents guests with the chance to escape from everyday hustle and bustle, in a stress-less, intimate environment. But what goes on behind the scenes at these idyllic resorts?



Hotel name: The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Location: Noonu Atoll, Republic of Maldives General Manager: Abdulla Thamheed Accommodation: 221 villas Main markets: Europe, Middle East and Asia

ISLAND ADJUSTMENT Located a 45 minute seaplane journey for the Maldivian capital of MalĂŠ, general manager of the recently re-branded Sun Siyam Iru Fushi resort, Abdulla Thamheed, like Christoph Ganster battles many of the same operational challenges, while surrounded by nothing but open water. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When escaping to a remote destination our guests love the natural beauty of our resort, the privacy provided and the break away from pollutions and stresses of the outside world, however there are certain disadvantages we face from a hotel operations perspective and our day-today logistics are much more challenging because of our location. Transportation is a major issue, as you can only access Iru Fushi via seaplane, which only operates during the day time,â&#x20AC;? explains Thamheed. He added: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our highest occupancy rates occur during October to April, with our low season being May until August/ September due to the rainy season that hits the Maldives, another of our challenges as we are surrounded by water. In order to spread revenue across

is the key. For example, during low season we would increase the room rates per night for our Chinese market, because they are our biggest contributors at 52%.â&#x20AC;? Through a complex process of sourcing fresh F&B produce, in addition to all other products required by a functioning hotel and spa, Iru Fushi has developed a method of importing all necessities via one shipment weekly, where food sources are received from countries

including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Japan and more. All imported goods are shipped to MalĂŠ and then by the resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s boat to the island. In order for this process to be successful, weekly orders must be placed by all departments to cater to the    members. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To help ease the strain on relying on weekly shipments we include purchasing of fresh seafood from our      much fresh fruit and vegetables from a nearby local island,â&#x20AC;? said Thamheed. While segregated, Thamheed explains that he ensures The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is marketed thoroughly by partnership and collaboration with several PR agencies that focus on

    areas. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We strive to target three main area when marketing our resort: Geographic â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Europe, Arabia and Asia; Demographic â&#x20AC;&#x201C; middle income, honeymooners and families; Psychographic â&#x20AC;&#x201C; lifestyle travellers who enjoy city escapes with the sand and sun,â&#x20AC;? he said.

Transportation is a major issue, as you can only access Iru Fushi via seaplane

MAY 2014



+!  -     Location: Praslin Island, Seychelles General Manager: Christoph Ganster Accommodation: 86 villas Main markets: Middle East, Russia, Europe and China

SURROUNDED BY OCEAN From the white Seychelles shores,        Christoph Ganster explains that operating a property in the middle of the Indian Ocean is not always easy in terms of logistics, and following three years since the resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opening he has learnt that the main components to overcoming operational challenges include strategic     â&#x20AC;&#x153;To manage such a prestigious resort in an isolated location is indeed demanding and challenging, but also truly rewarding. Firstly, getting products from around the world is costly and

     restaurants. It can also be timely and we sometimes face delivery delays, which have to be prepared for by planning ahead,â&#x20AC;? said Ganster.        seasonally in order to work with local suppliers and the natural availability of produce as much as possible. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a wide variety of local

   !!  ! snapper, also a garden at the resort where we have a variety of herbs and tropical fruits such as coconut or papaya, !"# !  $ make it a point of getting the freshest and highest quality of products, even if it means spending more and sourcing "! " % Many beauty products used at the resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spa are also natural, handmade products from the Seychelles, using

MAY 2014

coconut, rose, vanilla, cacao or aloe vera. Furthermore, the GM explains additional challenges faced at the resort include the generation of electricity  &!  #  ! water, especially during the dry season. The resort has a full, dedicated team of Engineers, who work to maintain the propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generators 24/7. '  !" &( !   guest occupancy and visitors ready to enjoy a holiday at the destination. But it   !!   & who are willing to live on an island for several years. )' ! !   who will move their lives to a remote location, we have very high standards !"       exceptional candidates capable of delivering our service standards and who are ready to live the island life, can be a lengthy process,â&#x20AC;? he explains. In order to help combat this !     !##!* with the Seychelles Tourism Academy



impact on our future recruits. We are also working on our colleaguesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; satisfaction in order to minimise

sales and marketing team established in Dubai. The reasoning behind this location is down to Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accessibility

turnover,â&#x20AC;? said Ganster. To attract new visitors, both traditional and digital marketing techniques are used at the resort. Ganster reveals: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our approach is very pictorial because one picture describes the destination better than written words. Since we are in a remote location we have to communicate about unique experiences that will make people travel those extra miles. We also work on audience engagement online or on print media and we sponsor events that are promoted internationally. In addition to B2B marketing techniques, as we wants to be close to agents who sell our resort.â&#x20AC;? As a central location chosen to attract          

         connection with the rest of the world and its business market. A good majority !  "# $     Seychelles arrive through UAE. â&#x20AC;&#x153;All in all, the experience of being a GM at a remote resort is challenging yet rewarding and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m grateful for opportunity. The unhurried island life, the smiling people, lush vegetation, just makes you feel peaceful. We have to work on a daily basis to change our entertainment programmes and activities, because guests spend more time at the resort when in a secluded resort that at a city hotel. At a remote resort, the hotel becomes the destination,â&#x20AC;? concludes Ganster.

At a remote resort, the hotel becomes the destination

implementing new hospitality training programmes for the Seychellois people. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Although we have great resources in Seychellois people, and we make it a priority to employee them, there are simply not enough hospitality candidates. These programmes give them the necessary skills, experience and willingness to work in the tourism industry, which will now have a great


Abdulla Thamheed:     

Ayman Ashor: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most of our

would generally stay two to four years at a remote resort, and this        hospitality business as it involves dealing with more challenges than in a centrally located property. It allows you to grow and be more creative.â&#x20AC;?

years, this experience adds to a GMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s career and knowledge about handling emergencies in remote areas, how to be more creative and innovative when it comes to activities and F&B trends because itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crucial guests are kept fully    


department heads have worked with us since the opening in 2010, with promotions taking place over the past several years, which encourages them. As a GM an experience operating at a remote resort had broadened my ability and training on how to focus on guests and employees.â&#x20AC;?

MAY 2014



Hotel name: Tilal Liwa Location: Rub-Al-Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates General Manager: Ayman Ashor Rooms: 111 rooms Main markets: Europe, China and GCC countries

DESERTED IN THE DESERT Perched at the edge of the Rub-Al-Khali Desert popularly known as â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Empty Quarterâ&#x20AC;? (the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world), Ayman Ashor, general manager at the Tilal Liwa Hotel reveals that one of his major challenges operating a secluded property situated amidst desert surroundings of sand dunes, camel farms and a date      while keeping service standards and guest satisfaction high. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A growing trend I am noticing is that guests all expect to have the luxury experience within their budget. Guests in general now are expecting the best for less, however hotel running costs are continuously increasing, especially when located remotely. We face ongoing

      while ensuring that our service standards are high and our guests are

          increases YoY, we do not realise there has been growth due to the additional hotel inventory in neighbouring locations,â&#x20AC;? said Ashor. Adding that: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The number of new hotels opening in the pipeline does not match the current number of visitors and we are certainly reaching and feeling an oversupply of hotel rooms.                 business for the future. However, I believe to succeed it boils down to advanced and smart planning, knowing     !    "      #  $  notes that the recruitment process for a remote resort is a lengthier process and the key to hiring reliable employees is to ensure they are whole heartedly willing to work in a secluded area and full aware of the lifestyle they will have. Tilal Liwa operates with a high season that runs from September to April, and a low season from May until August, due to the extensively hot summer season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our revenues always take a drop due to the hot summer but in terms of occupancy it has remained constant over the past few years,â&#x20AC;? explains Ashor. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is due to the step-in lower price

MAY 2014

    !     during this time period as an attractive package.â&#x20AC;? To keep visitors attracted the resort ! !         the leisure segment with activities such as sightseeing visits to camel farms and the camel race arena, sand boarding, kite           % Oasis and more. Although faced with challenges, the resort presents guests with unique opportunities. Ashor explains: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Unlike other resorts, because of our location we are able to host festival events throughout the year including the Al Dhafra Camel Festival, The Moreeb Dune Championship, Liwa Dates Festival and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. These events play an important role by directly contributing to our business growth.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to use both traditional and digital ways of marketing to attract visitors to our hotel, we have several techniques including radio campaigns, magazine ads, online competitions and more. Social media is also a great way of instantaneously reaching guests in a very short lead time. Guest review sites such as TripAdvisor, provide hotels, especially remotely located ones with the opportunity to directly address issues and concerns on a public platform,â&#x20AC;? Ashor concluded.


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Room with a view



 Downtown GM Klaus Assmann 


MAY 2014


s far as globally iconic neighbourhoods go, Dubai Downtown is probably one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most famous, not to mention actionpacked, with the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest mall, tallest building and largest performing fountain packed into an area of one square kilometre. From this month, the area has a new icon with the opening of Sofitelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first Dubai property since Accor revealed the â&#x20AC;&#x153;re-groupâ&#x20AC;? of its luxury brands. Announced in February this year, it was a move in which the ultra-luxury French brand became more closely aligned with Pullman and M Gallery. It also coincided with the resignation of Sofitel global CEO Robert Gaymer Jones. As a result, the opening of Sofitel Downtown marks a departure from the dark wood and chandelier concept of luxury design, drawing on modern influences to create a design that property GM Klauss Assmann, describes as: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Fresh, sophisticated, trendy and modernâ&#x20AC;?, he continues: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very well balanced product.â&#x20AC;? With all design and architecture by Wilson Associates, the focus is on a new generation approach â&#x20AC;&#x201C; rather than change â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to the 50 year old brandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guidelines, something which the other 125 plus global properties do not have the benefit of incorporating at this stage. Joining after the closing of half the portfolio during the global financial crises, Assmann comments: â&#x20AC;&#x153;[When] there was a huge rebrand a lot of new touch points were introduced. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still pushed a long as it is now and I think Sofitel has done brilliantly.          brand of Accor, our DNA is the same and there will be no changes to those core values. The brand is going new ways and

         the owners were able to package that in creating this hotel,â&#x20AC;? he adds. Project managing the launch â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the seventh opening of his career and third in Dubai â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Assmann arrived at the 350 room property in September 2013. The room inventory includes 76 suites, a deliberately high ratio targeted towards the guest profile attracted to both Sofitel and Downtown, eight F&B concepts, 12 meeting rooms, a ballroom



and rooftop terrace, all spread over 31 storeys. Rooms either overlook Burj Khalifa and The Fountains, Sheikh Zayed Road, or the low-rise Jumeirah and Gulf Sea. Beyond Downtown, the relative proximity is also home to DIFC, Dubai World Trade Centre, CityWalk and Mall of The Emirates. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Because of the location this hotel will clear itself as one of the flagship hotels of the brand. The USP here is the location and if you are in the right location you will do extremely well.â&#x20AC;? New flagship While the heady location is on one hand a USP, on the other it means guests are a far from captive audience. As a result F&B and the enviously positioned roof bar are equally positioned towards hotel guests and, importantly, Dubai residents; a market keen to try something new considering the prominence of almost every global F&B brand in the emirate.



Years since Sofitel launched


Hotels linked to Dubai Mall

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Almost every brand is represented here, often more than once and it makes things very interesting but it means youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re only successful if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re different,â&#x20AC;? Assmann observes. Revealing that the R&D behind the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two signature dining destinations incorporated a thorough investigation of everything on offer within a two kilometre radius, the team was briefed with â&#x20AC;&#x153;creative and newâ&#x20AC;?. The concepts they came up with include a Thai restaurant      the creativity of Japanese cuisine, with Tepanyaki style cooking and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thai sushiâ&#x20AC;? and a steakhouse specialising in â&#x20AC;&#x153;the French cutâ&#x20AC;?. The rooftop bar, at which Sofitel will launch a brunch with a view later this year, will host a terraced dining area

overlooking a 62m infinity pool. Assman explains: â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was important to stick to concepts weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re familiar with but we have given them a certain twist.â&#x20AC;? The stakes are even higher when considering the revenue generating capability of every square metre of such sought after real estate. Six weeks from opening at the time of interview, Assmann discloses that no targets exist in terms of F&B contribution to overall revenues and that everything is based on zero history. F&B openings are due two weeks after the opening of the rooms.

Because of the location this hotel will clear itself as one of the     the brand




Sweet spot The hotel represents many a new approach for Accor, from its first all-city location in Dubai (Sofitel JBR and Sofitel



Restaurants and bars

MAY 2014


Storey building


The Palm complete the local portfolio) to the boundary pushing design. With such a broad clientele at this property, it can be hard to distinguish a balance in direction that will cater to the diverse guest profile the hotel will no doubt attract. When located in a honey trap for both the business and leisure, local and international, Gen Y and traditional Sofitel aficionados, how does a brand define its offering? Dissecting the complications in the direction of luxury hospitality seen in the market today, in combination with debates over the role of technology in such properties and the sheer level of competition in the propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s immediate locality, and the equation seems even more difficult to solve. The room that results is connected but uncomplicated; spacious enough to literally walk through the wardrobes but not wasteful in its use of square metres; controls are integrated but without a guest being in danger of opening the         

light. He says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m in a lucky position in that I have experienced with other brands before, the full implications of IT. What I realised is that the guest is not looking for something specific. Instead itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about finding something in between.â&#x20AC;? In terms of how many of those guests can be expected in the first few weeks before Ramadan begins, no targets exist. The current staff of 400 ambassadors will increase to no


Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re only successful   

more than 450 by Q3, when business is expected to pick up significant pace. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have our goals, but I think mainly we understand that in being connected to Dubai Mall our key market will clearly be GCC residents, then traditional markets, such as British, European and Chinese and Australian. Also, being close to the heart of Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s corporate environment will be key,â&#x20AC;? Assmann shares. That pace will again be driven by the opening of Dubai Opera House

MAY 2014

and Emaarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s continued development of the Downtown district. In essence, more demand drivers are good news, but what Assmann and his team must ensure is the preservation of their flagshipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s positioning in an ever crowded environment. As Dubai makes more noise, so too must Sofitel. He adds: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think Dubai is in such a sweet spot right now. The economic crisis is over, airlift is strong and there is a guarantee of strong future trading in Expo. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see anything missing.â&#x20AC;?

Gerald Lawless CEO, Jumeirah Group

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MĂśvenpicks existing Dubai portfolio t Ibn Battuta Gate, Jebel Ali t MĂśvenpick JLT t MĂśvenpick JBR t The Square t MĂśvenpick Deira

Open for business

            Hayden Edgtton            !      


little over a year ago, Swiss operator MĂśvenpick announced plans to invest 10% of its total global inventory in Dubai, meaning an increase of its existing stock by four properties, divided between hotels and extended stay apartments. It was part of a global drive to hit a 100 hotel target by 2015, spurred by the prediction that the Middle East will soon

overtake operations in Europe in both pace and revenue. Since the 10% by 2015 plan was revealed, further details have been released for openings in Karachi, Tangier, Marrakech, Casablanca and Istanbul, with a further announcement made for Banyanzurh District, Mongolia. However, the first such hotel to open in Dubai marks both a seminal point in this expansion plan and also that of its

MAY 2014

surrounding community, Jumeirah Lakes Towers. While opening was delayed a year, during which Hayden Edgtton was promoted from EAM to GM following his predecessorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s departure, marketing of the property had been strong and backed by appearances at ATM 2013 and ITB 2013 and 2014. The message now is clear: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are openâ&#x20AC;?. Commenting on the diversity JLTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s boutique positioning adds to the sixstrong Dubai portfolio, Edgtton notes that side by side with a JBR beach property, a traditional arabesque Jebel Ali property and further hotels in Deira, Bur Dubai, and The Square, MĂśvenpick is an attractive option for owners. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great addition for the company to be able to show potential owners another type of product. We have an exciting mixed-used product, with individually owned hotel rooms and a residential component, and that will be a common business model moving forward,â&#x20AC;? remarks Edgtton. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It shows potential owners our flexibility to manage different types of products and different styles of products,â&#x20AC;? he adds. Developed by DMCC, Movenpick JLT is the first internationally branded hotel in the 66 tower community and the 168 apartment property â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with an additional 320 unit residential component and a total staff of 191 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; bases its main revenue drivers on the needs of its surrounding community. Enjoying an average occupancy of more than 90% since its opening in October 2013 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 92% at the time of interview â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Edgtton continues: â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have hotels established for years who wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t achieve that.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are a lot of hotels in Dubai which donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see change and I have been here six years. We have already made significant changes because we listen


to our customers and we listen to our staff,â&#x20AC;? he adds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not prepared to change then it becomes a very stale environment. Dubai is so competitive, you wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t survive.â&#x20AC;? First steps While filling rooms doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pose an issue, the success wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let Edgtton and his team sit back. Striving to â&#x20AC;&#x153;build on our foundationsâ&#x20AC;? they are now focused on developing the product and F&B offering that will drastically change local business dynamics. JLTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s staple attractions have enjoyed unrivalled success for a number of years, but 2014 is the year British-themed UBK and international dining and brunch destination Nosh, change all that. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a route to success which in itself, due to Dubaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expatriate dine-out culture, isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t isolated. However, it will be fully capitalised upon. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you open a hotel you have the intelligence to know what the customer wants and you put in place your best strategies. UBK is our unique selling point and we will benefit from the local market a lot,â&#x20AC;? he shares. Following breakfast service, second

concept Nosh, will transform into an international dining destination, complete with theme night menus and a weekend brunch for a clientele focused on good food and good views. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our hotel has the advantage of an international name over the door and as a result we have two fantastic brands that are getting a lot of exposure,â&#x20AC;? Edgtton says. The chances of a further shake up to the hyperlocal social scene are slim; while Accor is rumoured to fly its Pullman flag on one of JLTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s empty towers and plans exist for a hotel not even in the construction stages, no further immediate plans are being publicised by DMCC â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a surprise considering the business and residential footfall created by the 75,000 people the developer claims frequent the area.

      applied to a hotel when it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t     focus was to            day one

Personal culture Moving forward, Edgttonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next focus will be the development of a staff culture. Counting 191 associates, from more than five different countries, training has focused on the fostering of an inhouse culture, rather than re-creating the culture of the associatesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; respective nations. Relaying that the right mix of nationalities brings out personalities,

MAY 2014


Edgtton shares: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want a hotel with personality because it reflects the boutique element of the room stock. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mixing all the different personalities delivers the genuine service. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want it to be robotic and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also important to have a mix of people who know Dubai and who have worked here for a few years.â&#x20AC;? With so much on the cards and a self-motivation for Edgtton and his remarkably young team to create even more successes at the hotel, complacency isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t an option. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of different pressures are applied to a hotel when it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t perform, so our focus was to create a strong performance from day one so we could focus on the more important issues of day to day operation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are constantly gauging guest feedback and speaking to the local community. We believe that if we support them they support us and, being in an urban environment and community environment, you have to become a positive addition to that,â&#x20AC;? he surmises.



Expecting the unexpected After 15 years in the industry,      operations, Gopi Joghee


work tirelessly to predict and satisfy the wide range of cultures and background Dubai welcomes on a daily basis. Everyone views service different, and our responsibility as a 5-star brand is to cater to their every need. That, in itself, brings me a lot of joy.

Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the greatest challenge you face day to day in your role? As part of this role, I have to deal with unexpected challenges particularly relating to guest experience. In such situations, my focus is to address any concerns and ensure that our guests are satisfied. Another challenge is having to

What are the unique obstacles you face working in your current role at this property? As with any growing city like Dubai, we face challenges of increased competition in the city. We are fortunate to have a philosophy in place that allows us to remain versatile and flexible, enabling us to stay ahead. We have a wonderful

hatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the most enjoyable part of your current role? The most enjoyable part of my current role is conversing with guests, and to see guests leave the hotel with fond memories created by the team.

 Gopi Joghee JOB TITLE: Director, front office operations TIME ON PROPERTY: Five and a half years in The Address Hotels + Resorts TIME IN INDUSTRY: 15 years CAREER PATH: t Hotel Management graduate     

         housekeeper at The Address Downtown      

  The Address Dubai Marina  !  "" ""  operations

loyalty base of guests who continue to keep us busy, and we work hard to keep their experience more memorable   # $ % has the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s busiest airport means that we have to be ready to adapt to    &''     hours a day. We want to ensure that our guests can take away both the Dubai Experience and The Address Experience. Looking at the role of DoFO in the wider industry, how can this role be developed further to enhance a hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bottom line? As director of front office, I have a better understanding of housekeeping as well as front office operations, allowing us to think creatively about our â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;one size fits oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; approach for our guests. It also enables us to plan effectively and coordinate between departments, in turn increasing guest satisfaction and loyalty thus contributing to the bottom line. The rooms department is one of the largest departments in the hotel. Without a doubt, teamwork and effective communication is the key.

MAY 2014

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