UAE - Tourism
Cluster General Manager, dusitD2 Kenz Hotel, Dusit Princess Residences - Dubai Marina
Bassam Zakaria is an award-winning proactive hospitality management professional with over 20 years of international experience in Europe and the Middle East. He is currently the Cluster General Manager for dusitD2 Kenz Hotel and Dusit Princess Residences – Dubai Marina.
What is your assessment of the hospitality sector’s ability to navigate COVID-19?
Hospitality was one of the industries that were hit straight away by COVID-19, just like many industries. It wasn’t an easy time, though it helped us learn the value of our business, our customers, and our associates and colleagues. At the onset of the pandemic, one of our top priorities within the management team is the welfare and livelihood of our employees. They are our invaluable assets that must be looked after at the same level as we were taking charge of the business. We made sure that we are one step ahead in providing them with their necessities and avoiding any chances of redundancy. We are proud to claim that we managed to make it through the pandemic without letting anyone go. In addition to that, the volatile situation of the pandemic has called for a different approach in operations, which required us to be flexible and agile. As the world was slowly discovering the virus, combined with the swift changes in the policies, this enabled us to embrace technology in many ways. From our services, up to adapting a hybrid-work-model, it made our operations seamless until now. Almost everything is digital, which has been successful in the long run.
You have implemented many technological solutions. How have these improved your daily operations?
Technology impacts and assists the growth of practically every industry in the present age. The hotel industry too isn’t insulated from its effects. The importance of technology in the hospitality industry today is irrefutable. From a small B&B to a global hotel chain, we at Dusit are constantly adapting to this upgrade. This will definitely open more opportunities and efficiently provide ways to help flourish the business, and most importantly, enhance guest satisfaction. We have digitalized our menus, utilizing QR codes in every way possible, and consistently personalizing and improving our guest room management system. Additionally, we are working on implementing online check-in, and incorporating a new technological solution that provides the ability for our guests to settle their bills in the comfort of their rooms. Apart from these, adapting to technology is also our chance to expand our corporate sustainability initiatives. Within the property, we use motion sensors in key strategic areas such as staircases and hallways. Our lights are LED, in line with energy-efficient saving practices. We also have more items in the pipeline as we are constantly finding ways to improve our services in a modern and technological way.
What environmental initiatives have you implemented, and what is the strategy to become more sustainable?
At Dusit, we take our role as community stewards seriously and focus on reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and promoting eco-friendly practices across our entire operations. Within dusitD2 Kenz Dubai and Dusit Princess Residences Dubai Marina, we have two electric car chargers that can be accessed by anyone, guest or non-guest. Apart from that, we have a partnership with Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), which is devoted to protecting the environment through education, action programs, and community involvement. Additionally, we have started switching all disposable materials to recyclable ones. Corporate sustainability has been a significant discussion across the globe, and we are continually finding ways to expand our initiatives in helping the environment.
What are your expansion plans for Dubai and the UAE?
Dusit Princess Residences, located in the prestigious Dubai Marina, is our second property. It operates as€¯holiday home apartments, which is one of the more successful modules in response to the ever-changing guest’s needs and wants. Dusit Princess Residences has been fully operational with numerous commercial tenants, and we plan to expand it beyond that. An important aspect of its success is incorporating the hospitality experience, services, and tech solutions of our hotels into holiday home apartments. We are a hospitality company, and we believe that such a module has provided great value for money to our clients. When we went into the holiday homes segment, we put our experience and knowledge, and even systems into the holiday homes, and it has worked extremely well. This is how we will manage the rest of the expansions.
What are your goals and expectations for the next 12 months?
Modernizing and digitalizing our payment modes and services are part of our main priorities in the coming months. We believe that this will not only bring leverage and sophistication to our brand, but will definitely raise the bar even further in providing distinguished services to our guests. For Dusit Princess Residences, we will be converting more commercial spaces, and partnering with tenants that will bring more convenience and comfort to our clients during their stay. As we are now heading toward normality, we are expecting a new breed of travellers, with a different set of needs, wants, and expectations. With the agility and resiliency that were tested by the pandemic, we are ready for whatever changes will be required of us as hoteliers.
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