Is your hotel ready for competition?

I recently lamented the blatant absence of cooperation between all parties involved in the Middle East's travel and hospitality community in the Arabian Travel News e-newsletter. Entitled 'Where's the camaraderie in the Middle East travel and tourism industry?' the article highlighted the unwillingness of hoteliers in particular to share examples of failures and successes and to identify methods of good practice that can benefit them all.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  December 11, 2006

|~|ggB.jpg|~||~|I recently lamented the blatant absence of cooperation between all parties involved in the Middle East's travel and hospitality community in the Arabian Travel News e-newsletter. Entitled 'Where's the camaraderie in the Middle East travel and tourism industry?' the article highlighted the unwillingness of hoteliers in particular to share examples of failures and successes and to identify methods of good practice that can benefit them all. It is widely known that the general managers of many Dubai hotels meet on a regular basis to discuss common problems and to compare occupancy and rack rates. But how many actually tell the truth, particularly if they are having a bad month? My comment generated feedback from several readers, which shed further light on the situation. Apparently, (and you the reader will no doubt be aware of this), it is common practice for hotel GMs to create two sets of performance statistics — one provides the actual occupancy, room rate and RevPAR figures, and the other is a tampered set of numbers that is shared with competitors. So what is the point in sharing inflated and inaccurate data? An exercise in big noting oneself to one's peers is surely a waste of time? Hoteliers in several GCC markets, but most notably, Dubai and Doha, are in the fortunate situation where they probably don't need to share accurate data at present. They are enjoying the boom time — demand is outstripping supply, room rates are sky-rocketing, and occupancies are set to hit the 100% at some beach properties during the peak winter season. Indeed, one Dubai GM told me that the meetings he attends with fellow GMs and Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) are often fruitless because the hotels in Dubai don't have too much to worry about at present. It leads to obsessions over minute details such as how closed circuit TV systems in hotels should be regulated. Macro issues such as boosting tourist arrivals are not a problem, because the DTCM has done a good job of marketing Dubai worldwide. However, there are micro issues, more important than CCTV rules, that need to be addressed. Dubai needs to maintain its wow factor. Construction work and heavy traffic are two niggles that are already impacting the popularity of city hotels in particular, and they are issues that the travel, tourism and hospitality industry needs to address in order to retain repeat business. It's not that relaxing staring at cranes and cringing to the sound of pneumatic drills while you sit on the beach, and its as equally as stressful when you have a business meeting to attend and you are stuck in traffic on Garhoud Bridge. It's not as if there are no leisure or business alternatives to Dubai, or the other GCC countries for that matter. Hoteliers also need to join forces and discuss how they are going to sustain current revenues and occupancy rates at their properties when the next generation of hotels flood the market, starting at the back end of next year. If supply starts to outstrip demand, they could be in trouble. But is anyone willing to discuss this situation with their competitors? I challenge you to do so. Let me know your comments.||**||

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