More than 100 general managers and industry executives gathered yesterday to discuss Qatar's hotel landscape, network and share anecdotes at the second annual Hotelier Middle East Qatar GM Debate at the Grand Hyatt Doha.
Qatar Tourism Authority director of tourism Abdulla Malalla Al-Bader opened the event, highlighting the "huge" potential of Qatar’s tourism industry.
“Like in other parts of our booming economy, there has been growth in the hotel and hospitality sector over the years. You only have to look at high-profile openings in March and April," said Al-Bader.
“Qatar is a leader in business travel and MICE, and as a tourist destination. The new Doha airport will open this year, as well as the expansion of the roads and other infrastructure developments,” he continued.
Following panel sessions and workshops explored strategies for dealing with increased competition in the GCC state as STR data revealed a record 20% increase in supply coming online in 2012, totalling around 2100 rooms.
Speakers included Simon Casson, regional vice president and general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Doha; Bani Haddad, regional vice president, Wyndham Hotel Group; Safak Guvenc, general manager, W Doha Hotel & Residences; Hafidh Al Busaidy, general manager, InterContinental Doha; and Tarek Derbas, general manager, St Regis Doha.
ITP Business group editor hospitality Louise Oakley commented: “The Qatar GM Debate is the only industry conference to bring together general managers operating hotels in Qatar. While eyes elsewhere may be on the 2022 World Cup, these savvy hoteliers understand the short- and medium challenges facing the hotel business today. The forum enabled them to discuss these issues in the open, with the goal of furthering business opportunities for everyone, thus setting the industry on the right path for the next decade”.
Further panel sessions and keynote presentations covered how to create a unique guest experience — essential in the face of competition — and how to meet the needs of the corporate traveller.
There were also a series of workshops offering practical management advice on topics such as staffing and recruitment, digital and social media and revenue management.