An authentic, thorough Emirati experience

Located a few minutes away from Dubai Airport, within business and leisure precinct on one side the famous Deira City Center mall and on the other side the business hub, Grand Mercure Hotel and Residences Dubai Airport has the best of both worlds in terms of accessibility.

Shehara Rizly

Tyrone Lodder, Cluster General Manager, Grand Mercure hotel and Residences shared with TRAVTALK on how the past year was for the hotel. “While the markets still grappled with two COVID-19 waves, we managed to see through completion of our wonderful product at the Grand Mercure hotel with a few final touches pending to be finished in the next three months. We managed to position the property in the premium 4 star segment with our commercial objectives aligned with promoting visibility of the brand and creating a base of loyal strategic partners as we moved into 2022.”

As the world started opening its borders slowly over the past few weeks, easing travel curbs, it is time once again to gear up to partner in various activities that attract more visitors. Lodder said, “We will focus our activities directly with the key partners on and off the event through a host of activities organized by our regional teams. We will be showcasing our brand USPs, modern accommodation and traditional culinary offerings and an array of indoor and outdoor spaces. We might also consider participating in WTM towards the end of the year and some Accor roadshows managed by our regional teams.”

Travel is in the DNA of the Middle East market, when the borders closed and then restrictions started to ease, staycations, daycations or domestic tourism became a quick fix to quench their thirst for travel. There is nothing to replace humans when it comes to travel, tourism and especially hospitality and most importantly binding all these sectors together and ensuring all stakeholders and clients are given the same support, same attention to detail falls on the travel agent, the silent partner who helps right along the way. During the pandemic more than ever, travel agents performed a task which was by far the toughest in the century. Lodder shares his thoughts on the role and importance of the travel agent and how they work together. “Our Travel partners have been an integral part of our ramp-up over the last 18 months and we constantly strive to reward them for all their support. In line with our long-term strategy and focus on the key source markets, we will
continue to hand-pick selected partners and incentivize them with performance based rewards which will further solidify our relationship.”

Branding with an authentic UAE heritage, local touch  and positioning it as a place to experience local culture and tradition throughout the hotel. In order to attract more visitors to the property many activities need to be planned out, Lodder explains, “Increase brand awareness and UAE market visibility via PR strong messaging campaign. Deploy social media targeted ad campaigns and UGC content collection with a strong digital marketing hotel positioning/storytelling. Multiply strategic partnerships and media relations for city happenings/
events and form brand alliances. Use emotive marketing via launching dedicated and customized offers/discount and delivering a unique experience to our guests.”

Pre-pandemic, there was a set of source markets expected year on year, come pandemic there was a rapid change as new source markets emerged from destinations which never set foot in this region. In terms of Grand Mercure, Lodder said, “Currently we have a fair mix of key Asian markets such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia. We have also had movement from CIS markets which are currently stalled and a key part of our business has also been from African destinations. We intend to further grow our share from Israel and Latin American markets as key focus for this year.”

There was a vast difference in traveller requirements and their behavioral patterns after the pandemic. At first, they were cautious with how they travelled, whom they travelled with and where they travelled to. As the hotel is more family oriented, their clientele were confident to stay there, mainly due to the vast areas around which feel safe right throughout. Lodder reiterated, “In line with our property positioning, we do attract a majority of family leisure travel across our key source markets. We have seen a growth in our corporate travel over the past few months and a strong come back of the MICE segment where the hotel has attracted incentive groups, tour series as well as stop-over business.” Dubai with its strategic campaign to combat the pandemic and ensure that all businesses flourish started campaigns to boost confidence of the travelers attracting large events and exhibitions, most importantly setting an example with Expo the greatest show, which closed on as the biggest number of visitors after the pandemic.

The year 2022 seems more fruitful although the start of the year had a few stumbling blocks along the way. It seems to be improving by the day.

Sharing his thoughts on what will happen during the year, he said, “With a strong first quarter behind our back fuelled by Expo 2020 and surge in the regular seasonal travel, the summer does look promising with further opening of key markets such as India and Africa. We will continue with a qualitative approach to filter our business and focus on strengthening our market and rate positioning as a premium 4 star property as we enter a potentially very busy Quarter 4 supported by FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar.”

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