Hozpitality Exclusive:- Hospitality leaders welcome the latest initiative for the holy month of Ramadan.
Restaurant companies in the Emirates no longer need a curtain or partitions to serve non-muslims during Ramadan. In discussion with Naim Maadad, CEO and Founder of Gates Hospitality & Ravi Chandran, CEO of Liwa Minor and The Coffee Club.
The Holy month of Ramadan upon us, a month-long festivities, brings harmony and tranquility for the Middle Eastern countries. The UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, has announced that Restaurant companies in the Emirates no longer need a curtain or partitions to serve non-muslims during Ramadan. Abu Dhabi Department of Tourism issued an updated circular to catering, restaurants, tourist, and hotel establishments to continue providing catering during the day. The decision is not new for Abu Dhabi as catering meals to non-muslims during Ramadan was first introduced in 2019. Ramadan is typically a slow month for FB substances, the most recent declaration has thrilled the business workers and pioneers. A large portion of the hospitality companies in the UAE has effectively immunized their staff. This motion will boost confidence in organizations and workers in the hospitality industry.
The Emirates of Sharjah has also taken a step further and allowed establishments to sell food during the fasting hours. The hospitality industry has suffered a lot in the pandemic. The Govt initiative will undoubtedly help organizations generate more revenues and entertain guests even during Ramadan.
Hozpitality reached out to the industry leaders to acknowledge their viewpoint after the announcement. The discussion includes Naim Maadad, CEO and Founder of Gates Hospitality Ravi Chandran, CEO of Liwa Minor and The Coffee Club.
Hozpitality: - Do you believe this new Govt initiative will help the hospitality industry?
Naim Maadad: Absolutely 100%, it does go a long way in helping the hospitality industry. It is more in line with the UAE's efforts to open and access the international circuit for tourism and trade and support its vital hospitality sector. It does not necessarily mean that the Holy Month is any less critical. Still, more to in line with the country's honouring and respecting the culture and religious practices as well as promoting the vibrancy of the region in all its glory.
Ravi Chandran: Yes. For many decades, this period has been the lowest sale month, and if this is initiative is introduced in every Emirate, hospitality businesses can generate traffic and revenue and avoid losses and cash flow issues, especially during this pandemic period that has affected the hospitality business to a great extent.
Hozpitality: - How did you pivot during the closures during the pandemic?
Naim Maadad: We did exactly the opposite of our industry peers. When most of the businesses shut shop and hoped that the harsh times would pass by we aggressively engaged with our supporters and well-wishers over social media interactions that were creative and hugely appreciated widely. The brand ethos and pillars were strongly reinforced in our messaging, all efforts, be it pick-up deliveries, online App, self-home-cooking recipe boxes, quizzes, murder mystery sessions, homeschooling. This is not a pipe podcast interviews with celebrities were all a huge hit and trendsetting initiatives followed by others in the industry.
Ravi Chandran: It gave us time to rethink how to take a different strategic direction, and we worked on a Rebound Strategy that worked well to recover closer to Pre-COVID levels of sales. We had to work on our expenses which were mainly on staff salaries and rent waivers and reductions. While on the sales, we focused on a healthy menu, affordable pricing, and delivery.
Hozpitality: - What measures is your restaurant group taking in terms of containing the spread?
Naim Maadad: Every directive from the authorities was stringently followed 100%, and the teams briefed in multiple daily briefings to ensure total compliance. We made sure that the team gets the most updated information, and all rules regulations are well understood and effectively implemented across the board and in all of our venues in Dubai.
Ravi Chandran: Our colleagues have an obligation to help stop the virus from spreading. We have been educating our colleagues systemwide with continuous coaching and monitoring of the standards of health and safety measures for our staff and customers. Our colleagues' temperature must be monitored before and during work, practice all safety measures while at home wear gloves, masks, tables are distanced, social distancing screens are installed between tables, bags for take away and delivery are sealed, frequency of deep cleaning and sanitation are implemented to the highest standards, customers have extra options of sanitation and given the choice of contactless payment. Customers can dine in comfort or have food delivered safely without any fear of health concerns.
Hozpitality: - Which new technology did you adapt to during the pandemic?
Naim Maadad: We built our own GatesWay App to handle online bookings as well as payback credit loyalty points and value-added experiences for our clients. Social Media channels were kept busy and getting the maximum traction online. QR codes were implemented across brands.
Ravi Chandran: We already used contactless payment. The company has used tapping credit cards, debit cards, or Apple pay/Samsung pay for a very long time.
Hozpitality: - How do you predict the upcoming months of 2021? Will this new mandate create more jobs in the industry?
Naim Maadad: As per my estimates, the next month would remain status quo with the same volume of transactions. An upward trend would be felt more towards Q4 when the international travel circuit opens up, and tourists start arriving. Another game-changer would be the grand opening of Expo 2020 beginning October 2021 which would bring in the volume business and be a remarkable change factor to look forward to in the business arena.
Ravi Chandran: UAE has been proactive in controlling the virus and taking all safety measures for the well-being of its residents, and have already vaccinated 80% of the population that may lead to easing the restrictions and drive more traffic into malls and restaurants, most probably by the fourth quarter of 2021, and with that, rehiring will start for most of the hospitality businesses as they return closer to pre-covid staffing levels. As many of the world's most popular travel destinations are yet to open for tourists due to travel restrictions and quarantine measures, we expect to see a gradual influx of tourists into the UAE over the coming months of 2021, a positive impact on the businesses.
Hozpitality: - Have you inoculated your staff with Covid-19 vaccines?
Naim Maadad: Yes. We are strongly encouraging each team member to take the COVID-19 jab and be protected. Our duty and responsibility in the frontline industry are to take care of our staff and guests' health and well-being. Ensure a safe work environment as well as making sure that the venues are totally hygienic and sanitized at all times as per the HACCP standards and authority directives. Absolutely no compromises are being made towards ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of all our stakeholders at all times.
Ravi Chandran: 90% of our staff are vaccinated.
The UAE is running on number one against the battle of Covid-19, with 9.1 Million dosages of its resident out of which 2.19 Million are fully immunized, making 22.4% of individuals vaccinated in the country, the most noteworthy on the planet, leaving the US, China, India, and the UK behind. In other news, the UAE-based tech organization has as of late joined a concurrence with Chinese organization Sino-Pharm to build up another co-branded vaccine for developing nations.
The nation is planning for the biggest in-person occasion in the Arab history, World Expo in the last quarter of 2021. All executives and delegates participants in Expo-2020 will get an opportunity to get a Covid-19 immunization in the country. UAE Hospitality industry is headed to recuperation and with the vision of the pioneers, the street ahead appears to be a lot of positive.