Aldert van Zyl has over 20 years’ experience in hospitality across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He believes that consistency is the key to success and does not shy away from risks, especially in his role as GM of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Convention and Exhibition Center. Here, he tells us about his journey to the top, his plans for the hotel and how KSA’s hospitality scene is evolving.
How did your career in hospitality begin?
I began my career as a steward at an Italian restaurant in London. I went on to manage various restaurants and bars in international hotel groups in South Africa. In 2014, I joined the Radisson Hotel Group as the Director of F&B at the historic Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. I oversaw 16 F&B outlets and banqueting facilities capable of hosting up to 6,000 people. Since then, I have held multiple positions within the company. Before my most recent assignment, I served as general manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Silicon Oasis. In February 2021, I oversaw the preopening of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Convention and Exhibition Center. In March 2023, we welcomed our inaugural guests and are actively striving to establish our property as the top choice for local and international business travelers in Riyadh.
What are your main responsibilities and objectives?
As general manager of a hotel, I am responsible for all aspects of the hotel’s operations, overseeing the hotel’s budget and financial performance, leading the hotel team, ensuring that everyone is properly trained and motivated, that the hotel meets all applicable health, safety and security standards, developing and implementing marketing and sales strategies to attract new guests, increasing bookings and working with the hotel’s owners to develop and implement long-term strategic plans to guarantee that we remain at the top of the industry.
My main objectives are to maximize the hotel’s profitability, enhance the guest experience and improve employee satisfaction to maintain the hotel’s reputation as a leader in the hospitality industry.
How do you plan to position Radisson Blu as the hotel of choice for business guests in Riyadh?
Our hotel is located in the heart of Riyadh’s business district. It is also connected to the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, so guests can get to and from the venue and appointments easily. We offer a variety of amenities that are essential for business travelers, including a number of meeting rooms. Our guest rooms are 32 square meters and well appointed, with amenities such as work desks and ergonomic chairs. Furthermore, we have a large gym with lots of equipment and an indoor swimming pool for guests to stay active.
We know that excellent guest service is important to business travelers. Thus, we are offering personal touches that create truly memorable moments. We also offer a number of services that are tailored to the needs of business guests, such as the business lounge for higher room category guests.
What is your evaluation of the Saudi Arabia hotel market and how can the hotel contribute to its growth?
The Saudi Arabia hotel market is currently one of the fastest growing in the world. The market is driven by several factors, including the increasing number of business travelers. In addition, Vision 2030 aims to diversify the economy, and we are seeing Saudi Arabia grow as a tourist destination.
The hotel is devoted to playing a leading role in the growth and development of the country’s burgeoning hospitality sector. Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Convention and Exhibition Center contributes to the market’s growth and development by consistently delivering exceptional guest experiences, in addition to engaging with the local community as well as generating employment opportunities, hosting international events, championing innovation and sustainability. The Radisson Blu Hotel actively promote Saudi Arabia as a diverse and attractive travel destination.
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Convention and Exhibition Center’s team is constantly looking for ways to improve amenities and services in order to attract new guests from both the business and leisure segments. Furthermore, the hotel is partnering with a number of local businesses, such as Camel Step coffee roasters, to promote the rich local culture and heritage of the country. We collaborate closely with KSA’s Ministry of Tourism to promote localization and prioritize the training and development of local talent.