Winning guests back

It has a new look, a fresh and stylish interior, and a new general manager. Now the recently refurbished Hyatt Regency just has to entice back the guests who ventured elsewhere in Dubai during the last three years of renovations. Andrew Hendrian, the man who took charge at the beginning of September, talks to Hotelier about the challenges lying ahead

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By  Sarah Gain Published  December 4, 2006

HME: What have your first few weeks as general manager at the Hyatt Regency involved?|~|Hendrian,-Andrew-B.jpg|~|Andrew Hendrian, general manager, Hyatt Regency Dubai.|~|The first four weeks involved consultation and getting to know the staff and seeing where the business was at. We have just gone through an extensive refurbishment so it’s practically a brand new hotel. I wouldn’t call it a renovation, it was taking the whole thing out from the inside and putting a whole new hotel in. I am very impressed. Now for the last couple of weeks I have been working on a few projects with regards to how to drive the business forward and how to get the word out that it’s a brand new hotel. It’s not good enough to have a brand new hotel. You need people talking about it and coming to see it so that’s where I am up to.||**||HME: Do you think getting the word out about the newly refurbished hotel is the biggest challenge you are faced with at present?|~||~||~|Yes. Of course we come up with very creative ideas and work with PR and ad agencies, but I think it’s difficult to reach the consumer who in the end, comes and stays with us. Obviously we can put it in an English magazine that is circulated in Dubai, but people live here; they already have a home here. The challenge is to get it into the guests’ heads who live in Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, because the Hyatt Regency used to be a home for these people and during the refurbishment at the hotel, they looked for other alternatives. Around 60% of our business comes from GCC countries and these are the people I want to target and get the word to them that this brand new hotel is waiting and they should come back.||**||HME: Are you mainly focusing on business customers or looking at the tourist market as well?|~||~||~|I think the major chunk of our business at the Hyatt Regency is business because we are located in a place that is in the middle of Deira, in the heart of the old city of Dubai and it’s always been a business hotel. But having said that, every business hotel in every city has seasonality. There are certain times of the year, like the summer months or Ramadan when business is slower here in the Middle East. So these are the months where we also attract tourists. Again, we are in the heart of the old city of Dubai and have stunning views of the ocean, great entertainment and an ice rink. So we do also depend on leisure business.||**||HME: Is it a concern that you are out of the main hotel area and a bit out of the way?|~||~||~|No, I think it’s not very pleasant to stay in the main beach areas these days. If you just take a drive down to Jumeirah and see the construction going on there at the moment, there is so much dust and noise and so many cranes. You just don’t have a good view or peace of mind. The good thing about being in the city is obviously if you want to go to the beach, we have a very nice beach down here. You don’t have the dust, the noise and the crowds and you’re still in the middle of the city. We are in the city, but have access to the beach, whereas if you are in Jumeirah, you may be at the beach, but it could take you over an hour to get to the city.||**||HME: What changes are you planning to make at the hotel?|~||~||~|Thankfully I don’t have to do any physical changes because it’s just been done. The last few years have been difficult years for us and for our guests because we didn’t close the hotel down. We refurbished the hotel while it was operational. This was an inconvenience so a lot of guests left and have gone to other hotels. What we didn’t do in the last three years is focus on conventions or large groups because obviously we could not accommodate them during that time, so that’s one area I am starting to concentrate on now. Dubai is becoming more attractive by the day for a lot of congresses and a lot of Europeans and Asians come for corporate meetings here. This is a part of business that I am looking at.||**||HME: What do you think sets the Hyatt Regency apart from other hotels?|~||~||~|I believe that our staff is the principle asset we have. And we have been lucky that we have managed to create a culture here where we have staff who have stayed with us for over 20 years. As a result, we have a whole lot of experience in our people and this is what we can capitalise on. For guests who come to the hotel, what they need more than anything else is they want to feel at home; they want to be recognised. In today’s competitive market, everyone has air-conditioning, otherwise people wouldn’t come. Everyone has a television and internet access. These things aren’t luxuries anymore, they are basic necessities. That’s what everyone has to have to start with. But what makes the difference is the staff, the people, the attention to detail and the recognition. And I think to maintain that and to enhance it, it’s very important that you take care of your staff and recognise their efforts because if you have staff who are happy, you have customers who are happy. I firmly believe in that and so I am very close to the staff, listen to their concerns, recognise their efforts and make them feel that there’s someone there who cares for them.||**||

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