Keeping the shine on the Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace is rolling out a huge promotional campaign to open up new markets for this unique Kempinski-run propert, which has put Abu Dhabi on the global tourism map.The $3 billion iconic property is already looking for a 25 percent increase in business for 2006, even after an overwhelming response from tourists last year.

But keeping up the initial momentum is not just about dusting off the 114 domes and 1,000 Swarovski crystal chandeliers or sweeping the mile of private beach - think event tourism and an aggressive promotion strategy.

Breaking Travel News spoke to the general manager Noel Massoud on the hotel’s strategy for growth.

BTN: At what stage are we now in terms of the Emirates Palace being fully operational?

Massoud: We are trying to fine tune the product now it is working. A Lebanese restaurant and an Iranian restaurant recently opened. The other four will be finalised by the end of the year and the spa will be ready later this year.

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We are also trying to fine tune all the services to fit with the guests needs and to really give it a touch of class, to make it feel like a true palace with all the services you would expect around it.

BTN: Will the next stage be to market the product?

Massoud: Absolutely. We have an office in London doing some PR and pushing the sales for us, we are working with most of the German tour operators, in most of their brochures. We have plans in place for France, Spain, Italy and so on. We also are not forgetting the GCC countries.

BTN: There was a media frenzy around the Emirates Palace, when it opened but how do you sustain interest over time?

Massoud: The hotel is going to keep that momentum going with all the activities we are doing. The Emirates Palace is working hard to introduce more cultural elements to the offering. We just had the Moscow ballet in our auditorium. We had an important Italian orchestra here. We are looking at concerts on the beach. Our beach can take between upto 15,000 people and we are going to use these events to further promote the Emirate Palace.

BTN: Do you think event tourism is a big thing?

Massoud: Yes and if you look at the Elton John concert in Dubai last year, he attracted a lot of inter-gulf travellers. They came from Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi to attend this gig. We want to get this kind of event on our agenda.

BTN: Do the tourism authorities, Etihad Airlines and your property have a cohesive strategy to promote Abu Dhabi in tourism spheres?

Massoud: Yes. The three of us complement each other and we are working together as a team. They back us and we back them and between the three of us we can do really good business.
 
BTN: How did it feel to receive the World Travel Award for “World’s Leading Conference Hotel”?

Massoud: It is an honour to receive such a prestigious accolade and I think we deserve it. We have excellent conference and business facilities throughout the Emirates Palace. We have a state of the art auditorium and we have a banquet hall that can seat up to 2,000 people.

BTN: Has it helped you to leverage the business?

Massoud: Definitely, it gives us a good push and good media coverage. It is important that people know about the Emirates Palace and that it is a convention hotel and we can receive any kind of MICE related event including international conferences and incentive tourism.

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