Let’s Do, Dare and Dream… Together
In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with HN, veteran hotelier Amine Moukarzel talks exciting expansion plans, areas of focus and the key differentiators related to services across the regional hospitality industry
|How is the regional industry currently faring compared to other markets?
The hospitality industry in the MENA region is pretty versatile, in part because the major players in tourism have, for years, demonstrated great ingenuity on all fronts. Hospitality establishments operating throughout the region have circumnavigated all regional pressures. The development of hotels has remained a focal point in the real estate sector, with the tourism industry a top employer and provider of gross domestic product across respective local economies. However, we will see a change going forward, as we need to strengthen the offering, delivery and performance of hotels to fully benefit from the partnerships between the private and public sectors.What can you tell us about some of the most promising ideas and projects you are currently working on?
As the hospitality sector continues to evolve, any steps or activities undertaken should aim to maintain that momentum. Human resources are still the key focus. However, product improvement, novel technologies and fulfilling customers’ expectations remain the most challenging facets of the industry. One key factor we have worked on is evolving the Golden Tulip brand to cater to the millennial audience, while adopting the new travel trends to maintain operational leadership for the next 20-30 years. With Louvre Hotels Group, our brand’s main entity and the ownership of Jin Jiang International, the budget hotel sector, is set to grow stronger throughout our region, as it is playing a more important role than ever before, especially at key and secondary destinations.
Tech support coming from our research and development (R&D) departments in China and Paris provides unparalleled insight into our electronic distribution channels, with e-commerce and e-marketing reflecting a positive outlook for return on investment (ROI).
Which markets are you most interested in breaking into right now and why?
|The MENA region remains the most important inbound and outbound marketplace. Saudi Arabia, in its entirety, represents the largest and most important market for the hotel sector. In Lebanon, the diaspora has played a major role in our economy and the country remains a target for future developments, offering plenty of expansion opportunities. Another country we are looking at is Syria, where we already have three developments underway. Iraq and Egypt are two equally important destinations that could benefit greatly from our versatile brand of Louvre Hotels, which range from two to five-star establishments.
In addition, our aim is to develop 10 Campanile hotels in Algeria, with an equal number in Georgia. We will also have a second hotel in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and are soon to become the largest operator in the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai will benefit from the development of the new Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn, in preparation for Expo 2020. Additionally, we plan to develop three Kyriad hotels and five Campanile hotels. Based on our aggressive expansion plans, we intend to be present in every capital in the Arab world by 2020, thereby ensuring that our customers, employees, investors, developers and owners are in good standing.
What role does interaction and passion play in your work and how do you incorporate them into the establishments you manage?
Mergers and acquisitions are the order of the day. What are the advantages and disadvantages for both the establishments themselves and guests?
The advantages are numerous, ranging from synergy management and loyalty programs to the enhancement of continued productivity. Whether it will help the establishment become better is a matter that remains open to question. I do not want this statement to be misunderstood, since there are far too many moving parts, especially when considering political unrest, looming security issues, taxation and reductions in oil and gas prices.
What is the main driver in hospitality?
What are some of the key differentiators that are instrumental in adding value to the guest experience?