TBY talks to two general managers on the hotel markets in Astana and Almaty and evolving occupancy rates.
What’s the history of the hotel in the city?
CEM CIRITÇI We have been here for 13 years. However, we rebranded the hotel and on January 1, 2010 opened our doors as Ramada Plaza Astana. Currently, we are the only Ramada in Kazakhstan. We are a part of the Wyndham Hotel Group, which has more than 7,000 hotels around the world, 900 of which are Ramada hotels. Most of them are in the US and Europe. The group has more than 30 Ramada hotels across Turkey as well.
GAUKHAR MATKENOVA The Dostyk Hotel has been operating in the market for 29 years. Its history began in October 1983, when it was decided to open a hotel to accommodate government officials and delegates. While maintaining old traditions and the spirit of history, the Dostyk Hotel found new meaning after the renovation in 2008 through the creation of a model of technological excellence, the development of new facilities, and the implementation of a modern and comfortable interior under the old Dostyk roof.
How have the hotel’s occupancy rates been?
CC Astana’s hospitality industry depends largely on international events and business travellers. MICE tourism is very important in Astana. We see low occupancy levels if there are no international events. However, when there is an event, the capacity of the existing infrastructure sometimes falls short. Having said that, the market depends on international events less and less. In 2011 we did better than 2010. Despite not having big events, our occupancy rate is 36% higher. For food and beverages we are seeing a higher level of demand, including for banqueting and conferences. This shows that something is changing in the city. We also have 80 offices in our building, 95% of which are full now compared to 60% in 2009. In general we have a 40% occupancy rate. We enjoy higher rates than our competitors.
GM The occupancy rate is fluctuating nowadays. Of course, there is a clear seasonality factor, including cultural and political events in the city, business activities, and exhibitions. As an average, the occupancy rate of the hotel for recent years has reached 75%, which is a good result in the current market environment.
What is the importance of staff training?
CC For us, training is extremely important and only our hotel puts extensive emphasis on it. Not only do we comply with Ramada’s international “I am Ramada” training program, we also arrange training particular to our market such as providing our staff with English, Kazakh, and Turkish lessons. We have one training manager, one assistant training manager, and a HR manager who is in charge of staff training. We have training leaders in every department and every week we conduct training for up to seven hours. Our employees are in high demand in the industry, and many of them transfer to other hotels. We also receive hundreds of students as interns. In 2009 we sent 30 of them to our hotel in Antalya for a three-month internship.
GM One of the main assets of the hotel is the personnel who work here as a team and always strive for collaboration. This point of our strategy helps us to build a culture with high performance where everyone tends to the same goal: customer satisfaction. This leads not only to the success of the company, but to the success of the team as well. Another beneficial aspect for staff in the hotel industry is training. As time goes by and we face change, learning and acquiring new knowledge is essential. Training programs can help workers keep pace with new trends and changing needs. Mainly, the strength of any HR strategy is based on the creation of a positive working environment where people are motivated to be customer focused, function in a supportive team, and set the principles of integrity, community, and excellence.
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