W Doha general manager, Safak Guvenc. W Doha general manager, Safak Guvenc.

W Doha general manager Safak Guvenc explains how the hotel is focusing on food and beverage and emerging markets to stay on top as supply outstrips demand in the city

The last time we heard from W Hotel Doha & Residences general manager and area manager for Qatar Safak Guvenc was at the Hotelier Middle East Qatar GM Debate in April, when he warned hoteliers against a rate war.

Dropping rates amid increased competition should be a last resort for hotels, he said.
Five months on and he’s followed his own advice having managed to marginally increase occupancy and RevPAR by approximately 4% year-on-year in spite of a number of new competitors opening their doors, including the Hilton Doha.

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“We have not lowered our rates. Summer was better than I expected. There has been growth over the last six months; demand grew by 25% but supply grew by 32%, so supply is growing faster than demand but at some point I think demand will catch up,” says Guvenc hopefully.

A quick check online reveals minimum rates of US $277 for a Saturday night: “If you look at the weekend rates versus last year, this year’s weekend rate is higher,” asserts Guvenc.
As predicted by hoteliers at the Qatar GM Debate, many of the new hotels came into the market offering enticingly low rates, but this did not intimidate Guvenc.

“Of course they came in with introductory rates, which is healthy — it’s something we’ve done when entering a new market so guests can experience the new brand in town.

Did it affect us? No, because over the last three and half years we have built strong relationships with our guests so we have loyal customers who believe and trust in the W brand and they are continuously supporting us.

“We are very strong as a company with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), which helps create loyalty and returning customers to a property,” he adds. “In our portfolio St. Regis opened [earlier this year] so we’ve got Sheraton, W and St. Regis in town now – three operating brands – which is great for variety as a company.

“In total 1800 rooms entered the market but being the only lifestyle hotel in Doha I think we have a different niche, so we were able to maintain our occupancy and our market share,” he continues.

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