Rotana to double in size by 2010

Rotana has one of the most exciting expansion plans in the Middle East today.The Abu Dhabi-based regional hotel chain has rolled out 21 properties in less than a decade and 21 more are on the table to open in the next two years.It is set to have a hotel in every major Middle Eastern city.

Rotana is already projecting an increase of 36 percent in sales this year at the hotels it manages. Growth will come from new properties and higher sales at existing hotels.

Breaking Travel News spoke to Daniel Hajjar, VP Marketing, Rotana Hotels on the challenges the hotel group faces:

BTN: Which countries are you moving into?

Hajjar: We are looking at Doha in Qatar and Bahrain. We are expanding in the UAE, our home base. We have ten new properties coming up in Abu Dhabi. In Beirut we are going to double up with four properties within a couple of years. We want to increase our portfolio in Egypt. Saudi Arabia is the key market where we hope to be very soon.


BTN: What are the challenges going forward?

Hajjar: Like any company that is doubling its size—the challenge is to be able to continue to provide the consistency of service and the standard that our customers have been used to. It is going to be challenging and the ways to maintain that are certainly going to be different. 

BTN: How will you manage human resources as you expand?

Hajjar: We will be needing 15,000 staff in the next five years. This is going to be a prime concern for us because the source markets where we used to find our staff are running dry. They are emerging markets themselves so they have no more need for people to leave their countries. This will be our prime concern but we have our plans, we have our reputation, we hope it will work out.

BTN: What new brands are you rolling out?

Hajjar: Centro is our mid-tier brand that we launched a couple of months back. We will have our first opening late 2008. We call it three-star, but we are going to have five-star delivery. We are not going to go after cheap hotels, we are not going to go after cheap furniture, cheap fabric or cheap products. They are going to be first class, three star properties.

For instance, if a customer wants to have a hamburger at night—they will no longer have it on a silver tray with expensive china. They will have a hamburger delivered to their room in a brown bag—but it will be a delicious hamburger, the same way that we have it in our five-star properties. They will not be taxed for frills they do not need. They will simply get what they want to pay for and that is the strategy we are going for.

BTN: Can you tell us more about the loyalty programme you are rolling out?

Hajjar: We launched our own loyalty programme about two years ago. This was mainly a food and beverage based programme. In May this year at ATM we will be launching the second part of our loyalty programme which is going to be the Rotana Awards Select Programme. This is going to mainly target our sleepers in the room. We have been a bit late in launching it because it took us a while to find the right product but I’m hoping it will hit the market in the right way.

Photo credit: From left to right…Nasser Al Nowais is CEO of Rotana and HE Sheikh Faisal Al Qassemi, Chairman of Orient Tours.

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