HOSPITALITY

Qatar 2019 | RETAIL & LIFESTYLE | INTERVIEW

With the diversification of activities and new sources of tourism opening up, Qatar's hospitality sector has much to look forward to in the medium term.

Mohamed Chebil Hany Ghanem

How has the hotel developed since its establishment in Qatar?

MOHAMED CHEBIL The Curve Hotel opened its doors in 4Q2016. And within the short period of our operation, in 2017, we were among the top-10 ranked hotels in Doha. We not only capitalized on being a new property and a fresh brand, but also made sure that the vast experience of our staff was reflected in the service provided to our guests. From the start of our operations we have aimed to live by our tag motto, which is “the place to embrace the city." We do that by being customer oriented and by making sure that guests have significant memorable experiences and feel like they have a home-away-from-home on a daily basis.

HANY GHANEM Best Western is one of the leading franchise businesses worldwide with over 4,200 hotels in operation. We are well known for affordable prices, which is what makes Best Western unique. Having an international chain attracts loyalty because most customers nowadays are looking for a hotel where they can have a loyalty program or get points and stay anywhere in the world. Our hotel has helped us gain a great position in the market, as we are located a five-minute walk away from Souq Waqif, a three-minute walk from the Corniche, and under 15 minutes from the airport by car. We are close to the business area, and thus enjoy a great base of corporate customers.

How would you assess the impact of the blockade on the tourism sector of Qatar?

MC The primary challenge that the blockade brought to the hospitality industry was that the increased supply became more evident, as more new hotels and hotel apartments commenced operations, while the market suddenly narrowed. Our primary target market consisted of corporate executive managers, which was also a minority in the market. We widened our reach to include sporting events, airlines, diplomats, and the state sector, as well as tourism mainly from Oman and Kuwait as well as residents of Qatar. Through our efforts to promote our brand, we have increased awareness and generated positive feedback from our guests. In return, we are able to manage our high occupancy without affecting our rates.

HG We have recovered well since the blockade. It had a major impact at the time, being a sudden decision, and we had to rethink our means of retaining revenue to keep our hotel operating. We were struggling in 2017 but were back on track again in 2018 as a result of the efforts of the government and the tourism sector. The focus today is not only on rooms, but also F&B. The government found ways to attract different markets beyond the GCC for the long term, such as providing visa on arrival for 80 nationalities, and is keen to attract the Chinese, Indian, and Russian markets. As a result, we have ensured that we have employees trained in many languages, including Chinese, Indian, and Russian.

What are your plans to maintain healthy visitor numbers?

MC The Curve Hotel sustains its principles of providing a consistent high level of service to ensure continued dynamism in terms of visitor numbers. It is more important to retain existing guests, which represent stable business. This luxurious and modern hotel transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary with its amenities and special offers as it allows guests plenty of opportunities to indulge and relax. It is an ideal place to settle in as a resident, or alternatively simply enjoy for a short stay, meeting a diversity of lifestyle needs. We are also taking the opportunity to promote individual facilities available at the property through separate promotions such as the rooftop pool, well-equipped gym, and the Skinsation Spa.

HG Best Western is keen to attract the expatriate business. We are keen to have a variety of options suitable for different nationalities; we have an Irish pub, a Chinese restaurant, and a newly opened Filipino restaurant. We sponsored the Pakistani main event for National Day and received an award from a well-known social media platform for Filipinos as the Best Filipino Preferred Hotel. This is a standard we must maintain in 2019. We will continue our efforts to tap diverse markets, such as China, Russia, and Iran. Locally, we will focus on corporate accounts, and as we approach the World Cup there will be an increasing number of events and visitors.