The renowned brand Ishraq Hospitality has appointed hospitality doyen Alexander Suski as Group Director of Commercial and Business Development – a dual role to commercially develop hospitality plus the travel and tourism portfolio. Suski shares more insights on his role and the plans for 2021.
Q What responsibilities does your current role entail?
In December 2020, I was appointed Group Director of Commercial and Business Development for Ishraq Hospitality Dubai – part of Mohamed and Obaid Al Mulla Group of companies. In my current role, I oversee the short and long-term commercial strategies for the portfolio of seven owned properties under IHG and Wyndham franchises. In the dual role I am appointed to develop the further expansion of the Holiday Inn Express brand in the UAE and Oman, while continuing to establish Ishraq Hospitality as a well-recognised Hospitality Advisory Services company for investors and hotel owners. Under the Ishraq Hospitality portfolio we also oversee the Al Mulla Travels and Tourism travel agency
Q A brief of the property/properties that come under your purview?
Currently, Ishraq’s portfolio includes seven owned properties – Holiday Inn Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport, Staybridge Suites Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport, Holiday Inn Express Dubai Internet City, Holiday Inn Express Dubai Safa Park, Holiday Inn Express Dubai Jumeirah, Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport and Ramada By Wyndham Jumeirah.
Q What are your marketing initiatives for the properties?
Since 2021 is a transition year for the hospitality industry, our marketing initiatives are dedicated to maintaining a strong digital presence. We are currently enabling the growth of domestic travel and developing Food & Beverage revenues, the upcoming exciting developments at Muchachas Mexican restaurant or cantina is an example of that. Since we are anticipating that GCC and international tourism will start picking up slowly during Q2 and Q3, our mid-term efforts are targeted towards the development of both of GCC and selected international source markets.
Q Could you share their USP?
At Ishraq Hospitality we operate a diverse portfolio of properties, from 2 stars to 5 stars, which caters to a wide variety and diverse range of travellers in both leisure and business. One of our portfolio brands, Holiday Inn Express, is the perfect fit for simple, smart travel. We deliver more where it matters the most with the control given to the guest. You get greater value than expected with every stay. Our guests can expect unwavering consistency, including such essentials like complimentary breakfast. In addition, Holiday Inn Express is one of the largest hotel brands in the world that includes 2,920 hotels worldwide with 734 hotels in the pipeline, which shows the potential for its expansion in the region.
Q Do you think the industry can benefit this year as compared to last year due to the introduction of vaccinations etc.?
This year, guests are more confident to travel in comparison to the previous year, especially, compared to Q2 and Q3 2020. Impressive vaccination initiatives by the UAE Government give us confidence and hope that tourism will pick up and fully come back in the future. In contrast to last year, this year we expect relatively slow pick up of source markets depending on the precautionary regulations set and agreed upon. At Ishraq we closely monitor these trends to be able to reach out to these markets through our marketing initiatives once the time is right.
Q Have the hotel industry’s objectives changed over the past year?
As the world is adjusting to new travel norms, we are also enhancing guest experience by redefining cleanliness. In line with our commitment to cleanliness, we introduced new science-led protocols and service measures. All of our hotels are deep cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectants. We also strictly follow governmental guidelines when it comes to our F&B outlets, restaurants and bars.
As an organisation and hotel management company we are very adaptable and flexible and adjust our strategy according to any emerging trends or event, making sure that our properties and revenue generating units remain profitable during these challenging times.
Q What are the new trends that you see in the industry? When it comes to the travellers, have their requirements changed?
As I have mentioned, there is a huge focus on domestic tourism all over the world from Australia to Europe and from the Americas to Middle East. There is a continuously stronger demand for staycations and weekend getaways as human beings are not made to stay put but rather explore and travel. There is also a big jump in the use of technology. The digital acceleration is more important than ever before. Guests are interested more in contactless experiences.