Hotel group has been successful because of its localised focus, market strategy and presence in the UAE, said group CEO
Rotana currently operates 68 hotels in 24 cities across 14 countries, including 10,012 keys spanning 36 hotels in the UAE.
At a time when the global hospitality industry almost came to a standstill over the past eighteen months with coronavirus, many of UAE’s hotel group Rotana’s properties broke even or saw profits last year, said its president and CEO Guy Hutchinson.
“At the end of this year, 100 percent of our hotels will see pre-pandemic performances. We are rebuilding our business quicker than many. For developers, seeing that recovery will mean they’re satisfied with us,” said Hutchinson.
“Having gone through the last eighteen months, and seeing where we are now, I have nothing to lose sleep over,” he continued.
“That extreme focus has helped us. In Abu Dhabi, our hotels ran at 80 percent [occupancy] because we can move quickly and pivot our properties. Many of them have been profitable over the last eighteen months,” continued Hutchinson.
Rotana currently operates 68 hotels in 24 cities across 14 countries, including 10,012 keys spanning 36 hotels in the UAE. As a UAE group, the emirates, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have remained Rotana’s focus.
A strong regional understanding
Having a smaller, more focused team is one thing, but you need the knowledge, too, as the CEO explained. As with every hotel group, Rotana looks to expand, though it will only do so in places it knows it can bring expertise.
Hutchinson continued: “For Rotana, there are two levels where we decide to grow. One is our measured nature. For us as a smaller company, we have an advantage with focus. The fundamentals and the minutia of a property can really be understood and focused on by Rotana as opposed to a more global group. We don’t want a random hotel somewhere we can’t service the way we like.”
Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO of Rotana.
“Additionally, we won’t enter a market we know we can’t service. The UAE is our focus, and we have others in the Middle East. When you focus on these regional hubs, your service is much more detailed. Our development is measured and upholds the integrity of the brand.”
Rotana’s portfolio, however, reveals a few outliers such as properties in Bosnia & Herzegovina or DR of Congo but Hutchinson explained that these markets are interesting because of the tourists they bring in.
“That knowledge extends to source markets too. We’re in Sarajevo. Why? Because the markets don’t matter, inbound tourism is 95 percent Saudi, UAE and Qatar. While people in Sarajevo may not know the Rotana brand, the people travelling in will be super-familiar,” he said.
The third reason for Rotana’s relative success over the last year and a half has been its presence in the UAE. As a nation, the leadership have done a phenomenal job to support its major industries – hospitality included, Hutchinson said.
That sense of support has trickled down to the hoteliers themselves, explained Hutchinson: “For us, we’re here [at AHIC] to re-establish some relationships with people we haven’t seen in a while, while also re-strengthening this destination. I think in places like Dubai, especially in hospitality, there’s a lot of talk about collaboration and support. In reality, pre-pandemic, that potentially wasn’t there.”
The UAE, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have remained in Rotana’s focus.
“Everybody had their own agendas and their own expansion plans. We didn’t spend enough time together talking about strengthening the industry. The pandemic gave us a wakeup call,” he continued.
“The growth of Dubai has really been accelerated by that closeness. But the bigger Dubai has become, the harder it is to be cohesive like that. The pandemic has been a strong lesson in returning to that,” said Hutchinson.
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