As chief executive of Jannah Hotels & Resorts, Richard Haddad has had a front-row seat for the temporary disruption of the hospitality market in the Middle East in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Here he tells Breaking Travel News how the region is overcoming the challenges and adjusting for a brighter future.
Breaking Travel News: How would you describe the mood in the hospitality sector in the United Arab Emirates currently? We heard from Raki Philips, chief executive of the Ras al Khaimah Tourism Authority, during Hospitality Tomorrow that the market is beginning to recover – has this been your experience?
Richard Haddad: The hospitality industry has witnessed a drastic drop, not only in the United Arab Emirates market, but internationally due to travel restrictions and booking cancellations.
We need to show and reassure our guests that our hotels are religiously following new cleaning protocols and practices.
Currently our target is to focus on domestic travel, mainly for alternative accommodation and business, while there is also limited demand for a weekend getaway escape.
BTN: Jannah has been seeking to find opportunities amid the lockdown, offering hygienic space to travellers unable to reach their usual office. How has this been received?
RH: With the inevitable impact of the pandemic on most of our business sectors, we created an ideal package for the corporate segment following the health and safety protocols.
With all the benefits – including privacy and inclusivity - we sought to assure guests we would provide them with a productive yet comfortable, safe, and unique working environment.
The deal also includes meals and private workout machines.
BTN: What changes can we expect in the way hotels are run in the mid-term in response to the Covid-19 outbreak?
RH: We will continue the preventative measures for our restaurants and facilities, while also taking proactive initiatives that can help us to attract more guests during this time.
In addition, we will prioritise payment by card, to avoid cash transactions.
We already practice the social distancing applied to our table arrangements, and guests will be able to avail pre-check-in options by signing our registration cards electronically.
However, I personally believe that in the main the safe distancing rules will fade away back to the pre-corona times.
BTN: Hotels in the competitive Middle Eastern region are going to have to work harder to attract guests as the market recovers. How important will your new loyalty scheme be in that process?
RH: With our primary focus we will have opportunity to attract new guests with Jannah EliteClub Loyalty Program with our attractive benefits and exclusive privileges for our members.
Jannah Hotels & Resorts was founded in the spirit of noble Bedouin hospitality and is one of the pioneers among hotel groups that specialise in the luxury Halal segment.
For bookings and more information, visit the official website.