During the Arabian Travel Market 2004 our reporter Anna Gouldman took the chance to interview Toufic Tamin, Movenpick’s Area Sales and Marketing Director for the Middle East in order to find out a little more about the companies successes and their plans for the future.AG: Last year was a successful year for you - (turnover increased by 7.4 percent) - how does this year compare so far?
TT: First of all last year there was the war in Iraq. After this the whole of Jordan was suffering, and in June we started again to get some of our business. Many people say it is getting safer there is war and there is trouble. When I say we’ve had increase in business I mean, the new properties three areas. Dead Sea, Aquaba and pica? The commercial sector, the port and Dead Sea property. We have a lot of factors which help, for example our property in Aquaba there are a lot of shipments and therefore a lot of business men.
AG: How important is the Movenpick brand? Was your recent re-brand successful - what were you trying to achieve?
TT: The branding process is of course very important to us at Movenpick. It is not a huge management company, we are a middle management company, but it is important to us. It is very important to us to get a new elegant, eclectic look.
You see our new properties in Beirut, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Dubai, all these properties are featuring our new look which is our new logo. We plan a lot of investment - to change the colours - more elegant logo.
AG: Is there a theme that runs through all of the hotels?
TT: Yes there is. Every convenience to relax our main concern is to show everyone we are both a hotel of business and leisure travel. We do not specialize in just resorts; we also have hotels in the city center and airport. We cater for both the business and leisure traveler, popel can relax in any of our properties.
AG: How will you compete with the new developments in Dubai? The World, The Palm, Dubailand)
TT: We will definitely try to cope with the developments in Dubai. We have thought about this and this is why we have to be there, it is very important ot be in Dubai. Everyones knows Dubai is the hub off the Middle East. I don’t think there is any management company who is not present in Dubai. It is very important for us to be here.
AG: How many hotels do you have in the Middle East?
TT: 50 hotels.
AG: You have received several nominations for the World Travel Awards. How important are awards to you?
TT: I have to thank every single person, everyone from the World Travel Group. This award is very important to us - we have never been nominated before and this means we are dong a good job in the industry.
AG: What has been the impact of your recent agreement to join the Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme? And why Gulf Air of all the airlines?
TT: We are also in the process of making alliance with other airlines, and you will hear about it very soon. We are very proud to be in co-operation with Gulf Air, we have a very strong network all over the world, and we have a very good service, and we have a large number of destinations which is the most important and this is why we initially thought of joining Gulf /Arab Airlines, and we will join others in the future.
AG: When was the Movenpick and Gulf Air partnership?
TT: It was officially announced at the Press Conference yesterday.
AG: Are your hotels more business or leisure orientated?
TT: Before we were only in resort areas, 22 properties over Middle East and expanding to 32 over the next 4years. Previously we were only based in resort areas apart from a few areas in airports and city centers but now we have more mixed properties that cater for the business and leisure traveler.
AG: What is your main selling point?
AG: What is your online strategy? Do you offer virtual tours?
TT: I have to say we are now in the process of making virtual tours for many of our properties. I believe that online booking is getting very strong now and thus strengthening this segment is very important.
AG: Where are you in terms of emerging technologies? Do all your hotels offer wireless internet connection?
TT: We have some of our hotels in the Middle East. We also have a property in Aquaba. I am very proud of this property Dead Sea, meeting held last year. Myself and one of the team this is very important - it means we have a lot of connections - high speed, wireless.
AG: What are your short term and long-term goals?
TT: Our long-term goal is to keep our providing the same quality of service. Our aim is to move into key destinations and to give quality of service in all of our hotels.