Mohamed Taher has recently been appointed as Director of Sales for Shangri-La, Dubai. Mr.Taher has 17 years of industry experience in the region, working with the top brands including Le Meridien and Sheraton. Breaking Travel News caught up with him to find out what the future holds for this prestigious Shangri-La property.
How are you settling in to your new role?
I am delighted to have joined the Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai team and I hope the hotel will benefit from my contribution in terms of developing new markets and identifying new potential business partners. In taking the job I was really impressed with Shangri-La’s vision to be the preferred choice for customers by providing quality & value through distinctive service and it’s innovative products.
What makes the Shangri-La Dubai so special?
Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai has a unique role as it is the first property outside of Asia Pacific for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and as such is spearheading the group’s expansion in the Middle East. The spectacular 200 meter high building is also the newest five star hotel on the Sheikh Zayed Road. The property enjoys stunning views of the city, desert and Gulf and is ideally located in Dubai’s growing commercial business district. One of our best selling points is the spaciousness of our guest rooms, ranging in size from 45 square meters to the new presidential suite’s 435 square meters.
What is the existing strategy for the development of sales and marketing at Shangri-La Dubai?
In its first year of operation, the main objective for Sales & Marketing was to create market awareness about Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai and the renowned Shangri-La hospitality to become the preferred business and social address. It’s my job to take it a step further.
What elements are you hoping to add to this?
While our prime objective is to maximize business share of MICE and leisure segments, we will continue to focus on traditional Dubai inbound markets from neighbouring Gulf countries, Europe and Asia. We now have broader plans and we will also implement a comprehensive cross selling strategy capitalizing on our upcoming network of hotels in the region i.e, Traders Hotel Dubai, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah in Muscat, Oman and Shangri-La Hotel in Doha, Qatar.
The hotel is 5 minutes from the Dubai World Trade Centre. Is the business traveller your main target market and if so, how does this impact on your marketing strategy?
While the target audience is predominantly business and convention segments, driven by the hotel’s location, leisure travel is also an important component of the hotel client base. The hotel is appealing to the sophisticated leisure sector, in part as a result of the familiarity for travellers who have visited the Asia Pacific region previously and are familiar with the brand promise of Shangri-La. The majority of Leisure Tour Operators in the UK & Germany are now featuring Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai in their brochures.
How significant is the internet as a marketing tool?
Internet plays a crucial role in broadening Hotel & Destination profiles. Overall, user-friendly websites, E-information centers and on-line reservation services are strategic marketing tools for the tourism industry and are a vital component of any plan.
How important are events like ATM to what you do?
Arabian Travel Market remains the finest travel trade event for the Middle East and the Gulf region. It provides an unparalleled business forum for inbound, outbound and intra-regional tourism professionals. Although ATM is entering its eleventh year, it is still an ideal venue to meet new partners and negotiate business deals. I have high hopes for this year’s event.
What direction do you see the Gulf region, and Dubai specifically taking in the future?
The Gulf region will soon play a significant role with the rapid infrastructure development, economic expansion and the strong performance of various sectors, especially tourism and property. The economic growth reaffirmed the success of the implementation of Dubai’s diversification policy, which has strengthened Dubai’s economy. Dubai continued its impressive growth in 2003 by posting 5% increase in the hotel establishment guests compared with previous year. Last year, it played host to 4,980,228 guests as against 4,756,280 guests in 2002. This significant growth had been achieved despite the SARS outbreak and Iraq war among other negative developments that plagued the global tourism industry in 2003. The phenomenal growth achieved by hotel establishments reflects DTCM’s effective marketing efforts positioning Dubai as a year-round safe destination, providing world-class facilities and attractions. This successful performance clearly indicates that Dubai’s future tourism growth is on the right track and to be honest Dubai has already proved that it is dynamic and vibrant destination so I can only see that continuing.