TBY talks to Tolga Akkash, General Manager of the Grand Hotel Europe, on expanding MICE facilities and Baku’s five star hotel market.
TBY What is the Grand Hotel Europe’s position in the market?
TOLGA AKKASH Our property was Baku’s leading hotel when Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991, and even today when hotel industry is going up the Grand Hotel Europe remains one of Baku’s leading hotels, especially for business travellers. We’ve just finished basic refurbishment of the hotel, aimed at improving service standards and giving our guests a true five-star experience.
What occupancy rates does the Grand Hotel Europe experience in seasonality?
It can vary to 40% at a minimum, though averages around 60% or 70% year round. When major conferences or trade fairs are held, we usually reach full occupancy levels, as most other five-star hotels do in Baku.
What is your evaluation of the booming luxury hotel market in Azerbaijan?
The more competitors you have, the more improvements you must make to stay at the cutting edge. For me, more competition is better for business. This growth we are seeing is positive, and was one of the reasons we initiated a major refurbishment of the hotel to keep it at the cutting edge of the market.
What portion of the market are you targeting?
We are primarily targeting the business market, as it is the mainstay of the five-star market in Baku at present. However, with Eurovision just around the corner, we are likely going to see increased leisure tourism coming in to Baku.
The hotel is located in the middle of a sports and concert complex, and is close to a number of major corporate centers. What advantages does the location bring?
As all city hotels of Baku, we have the advantage of year-round business here. However, our extensive parking facilities in front of the hotel and main roads at all sides of the property make us more suitable for business travellers.
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