Interview with: Kevin Wallace, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jebel Ali International Hotels
Building the Right Hotel for Your Market
Istanbul, Turkey, August 22, 2012
With hospitality developments, the choice of location remains fundamental to success, according to Kevin Wallace, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jebel Ali International Hotels. Picking the right location is about knowing one’s customer and analysing the market with feasibility studies, he adds.
Why is the choice of location fundamental to the long-term success of a hotel?
When it comes to any real estate development, it is always about location, location and location. It does not matter what you build or how much you spend, if you get the location wrong, you significantly decrease the chance of success.
What about the new developments that have put entire towns on the tourist map?
If you analyse those cases closely, they were pretty high risk. In the majority of them, only the second or third person in actually made money.
In fast-developing and evolving markets, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, how can the choice of location be made? What should hoteliers look for?
The lessons have been learnt about the dangers of rushing into things, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and all over the world. Taking the time to analyse the market and doing feasibility and market studies helps hoteliers avoid picking the wrong location.
Once the location has been decided, it is then about understanding the client market, and including the amenities, experience, rooms, cuisine and activities that they look for. You can get the location right and build a beautiful resort, but if you do not have the right amenities, the project can fail.
What is driving the growth of this sector in the region?
In spite of the global financial crisis, we have had pretty buoyant international travel markets, driven primarily by Asian travellers, from China, Korea and the BRIC countries, who tend to travel in large groups.
As the Gulf countries continue to build quality airports, ease visa requirements and so on, we will see the region becoming a more globally competitive tourist destination. However, the higher up one goes in the luxury sector, the higher customers’ expectations are in terms of perfection.
How can luxury hotels differentiate themselves from each other?
At the end of the day, it is about value. Five-star luxury hotels might look similar on paper, but a lot of the times they are not. They might have different types of client, more guests from particular countries, be more or less family-oriented, and different price packages. What the customer gets for his money will differ. To succeed in this industry, hoteliers have to know their customers and deliver on their promises.
About the EMEA Hospitality Summit 2012
This unique forum will take place at the Ceylan InterContinental, Istanbul, Turkey, 29 - 31 October 2012. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on capturing a hotel’s target market, upgrading properties, and integrating green systems and solutions.
For more information please click here.