AHIC: Big brands must target locals in ME

International hotel chains need to look to their regional counterparts if they are to enjoy continued success in the Middle East, according to Amine Moukarzel, Senior Vice-President & Managing Director - MEA, Golden Tulip Inns & Resorts.Moukarzel and a number of his industry peers joined in a panel discussion on Hotel Ownership & Branding at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.
“I nternational hotel brands must improve their offering - especially to learn more from regional hotel companies and get closer to their community where they serve and operate,” Moukarzel said.
“Each hotel brand, whether national, regional or international, provides its offering to a local marketplace,” he stressed.
” Middle East hotel brands have earned great respect region-wide and globally as the regional hospitality industry has evolved rapidly. There was a need for local brands, and companies like Jumeirah, Rotana, Flamingo, Coral and Al Habtoor were developed at the right time and have served the region. The guest has appreciated their style, standards and delivery, and such brands have strengthened their positioning at the expense of experienced hotel brands, which have sometimes lacked presence and knowledge,” Moukarzel continued.
Moukarzel is responsible for 1 2 hotels throughout the Middle East & North Africa region under the Flamingo flag, as well as being Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns & Resorts - MEA, with 31 hotels in operation and plans to reach 50 hotels by 2010.
For Daniel Hajjar, Corporate Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Rotana Hotels, a good hotel brand should have a strong integrity, have respect for its partners and must be keen on developing its team.
“The company should be known for continuously searching to improve its standards and quality and should be known to deliver on its promises,” Hajjar maintained.
Talking of the recent influx of new regional brands, Hajjar said: “New brands must be realistic in their approach to business and must have realistic targets. In a buoyant environment like the UAE, new companies have a good chance to succeed if they are keen to grow gradually and are keen to start by developing strong and long lasting partnerships.”
Established in 1992, Rotana Hotels recently announced plans to double the size of its portfolio with 53 properties to open by 2010.
This came as a result of 11 new management agreements signed by Rotana Hotels for new properties in Jordan, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to 17 properties which are currently under construction and 25 in operation.
For Hajjar, Rotana’s growth has been made possible because of the company’s strong owner/operator relationships.
“Owners must appreciate and must trust the operator they choose to manage their property. The relationship should be frank, honest and certainly professional. The owner should not try to continuously find loopholes or suspect that the operator is trying to hide issues from him.
“When there is trust, the relationship is usually very smooth as both parties are comfortably focusing on their business and trying to maximise revenues. Therefore objectives and targets must be agreed upon from the beginning and then the operator has to deliver accordingly without interferences.
“At Rotana, we have been blessed to have first class business mind owners. From our end, we are keen on exceeding their expectations,” Hajjar said.