Wind beneath ibis Styles Jumeira’s wings

With a career spanning over 18 years, Muhammad Haider has spent 15 years in the hospitality industry and the rest of it in the telecom sector, enterprise solution, and direct sales and facilities management. Haider has been instrumental in ensuring the overall growth of ibis Styles Jumeira, keeping it under his wings consistently.

Muhammad Haider has been an integral part of ibis Styles Jumeira’s success story from its inception two years ago in 2015, as the Pre-opening Manager, and thereafter as Hotel Manager. Haider has built a very strong bond with his team besides revelling in the success of the property by securing a good profit margin. Among his many tasks includes to ensure that all members of the staff do everything they can to make guests’ stay pleasant and comfortable, whilst making sure that the hotel is profitable and efficient. Haider conducts day-to-day meetings with Head of Departments to maintain brand standards, ensure staff welfare, KPIs and make sure that hotel is achieving its monthly budget for rooms and F&B. He is also involved in hiring, staff training processes and ensures that guest satisfaction and reputation performance scores are achieved.

Riding in the service lane

Haider has spent 15 years of his career in the hospitality industry and only three years in the telecom sector having worked with Telenor Pakistan, and Mobilink. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1998 from School of Business & Commerce affiliated by Preston University, based in Wyoming USA. As part of the hospitality industry, Haider previously worked with Hashoo Group, Serena Hotels, Movenpick Hotel & Resort in Sanaa, Yemen in various departments, from front office to reservations, banquet sales to sales and marketing, managing different teams at senior levels. He has played a pivotal role in the opening of both three- and four-star properties under the R Hotels Group as its pre-opening Project Manager and achieved remarkable results. Haider’s authoritative and warm attitude and eye for detail have made him a loved and respected figure in the industry today.

Family matters

Essentially a family man, Haider makes sure he brings his values of bonding and devotion to his workplace. Not only is he successfully running a family hotel ensuring profitability, he makes sure that he spends quality time with his family and believes that their happiness is crucial in achieving his life’s career goals. “My achievements start from my siblings at home. If they are satisfied with the life they have, I count that as an achievement. Professionally, if my colleagues and our guests are happy and satisfied with our service, I count that too as an achievement. I believe that small things make a big difference,” Haider says.

Embracing technology

Haider is an ardent technology buff and believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next big thing. “AI is a fast-moving technology that enables machines to perform tasks that could previously be done only by humans. It can prove to be an ultimate saving on labour costs, while it also poses a threat to workers whose jobs are ‘routine’.”

He says that messengers and instant chat applications like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc., are here to stay and have a huge impact on the hospitality industry. “Texting guests in response to ‘in the moment’ needs, safety and security issues that would require immediate and subtle communication or eliminating language barriers are all technologically feasible and available. Sharing Economy or Alternative Lodging, call it what you want, but Airbnb and Uber have created a firestorm in our industry. Uber has virtually put taxis out of business and Airbnb threatens to become a primary lodging force.”

Millennials are the future

Haider says today’s traveller is heavily dependent on App-based technology because of swift response. Starting from mobile check in, in-room entertainment experience with customised technology like custom lighting, smart mirrors and in-room tablets, etc. expansion of culinary options beyond standard hotel restaurant because they want an experience at every level when visiting a hotel so food and beverage is no more an afterthought. Future guests will be very much dependent on technology but touch of personalised service will stand out despite of technological advancement in hospitality industry.

Dynamic booking trends

According to Haider, online travel agencies (OTAs) charge high commissions, hence it is imperative to manage the cost of acquisition of each guests and find more ways to educate them to book directly with the hotel. “OTAs have spent hundreds of millions of marketing dollars to condition consumers to think they have the best deals available. In short ‘Loyalty Pricing’ is vanishing,” he warns. Brand loyalty, Haider shares, can be a useful tool to drive more revenue. Educating guests on the benefits of booking directly with the hotel is crucial now more than ever, he says. “Creativity through social media can help the brand get a lot of likes and followers but quantitative success does not always convert to tangible ROI and data and analytics must be mined to measure success. Search engine marketing, optimisation and advertising initiatives are crucial to our hotels’ success in this digital age and remember that mobile is king!” he adds.

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