Mohamed Bakr, director of front office, Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi. Mohamed Bakr, director of front office, Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi.

What is your career background and how did you get into hospitality?

I studied in a technical institute two years, and then four years in college for hotel management before taking on my first role as a front desk agent at Hilton, Taba Egypt. Eventually moving up into a supervisor role as a night manager, I then moved to the Conrad Cairo in sales and marketing, then to the Hilton Abu Dhabi as assistant front office manager. After a stint at Rome’s Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria I moved to a Hilton hotel in the GCC to be involved in the pre-opening in the capacity of a front office manager, following which I returned to Abu Dhabi at Shangri-La as guest services manager. During my current tenure at the hotel, I moved up to front office manager, and now hold the position of director of front office.

What are your responsibilities at the hotel?

As a director of front office, my role is to ensure that we deliver a high quality of service to all our guests. I make sure that this goal is a top priority of every team member involved in front office operations in both Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri and its residences. I believe the key to achieving this is to do our best to exceed our guests’ expectations. My job also involves ensuring the team’s adherence to the hotel’s standards, policies, and procedures. I am required to provide maximum personalised guest service and make suggestions for improvements in overall operations. The emphasis is always on increasing guest satisfaction.

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What has made you stick with Shangri-La for the last five years?

Shangri-La is all about being a family. We care for guests and for our colleagues just as we would care for members of our family. It is the Asian hospitality that is the core of our service; here we care for you from the bottom of our hearts.

From Egypt to Abu Dhabi to Italy, and back to Abu Dhabi... What attracts you to the hospitality industry in Abu Dhabi?

The Abu Dhabi market is very interesting and there has been great change over the past five years. One of the most noticeable changes is the launch of several new hotels. This is creating healthy competition in the market, making it an exciting time to be working in the hospitality sector.

What similarities and differences do you see in the Abu Dhabi market as compared to other markets in the world?

Abu Dhabi has a unique offering for tourists, be it through its attractions and entertainment options or through its culture and people. This is what guarantees a memorable time for guests in the capital. At the same time, Abu Dhabi is also a city that tends to follow global trends, especially in recent years. However, this is something most cities do, particularly when their population is as multicultural as it is in the UAE.

What are some of the challenges you face in the front office?

One of the main challenges for all hotels is to get overall guest satisfaction at excellent rating. This is what we strive to achieve as a team at Shangri-La.

What would you say are your most significant achievements in your role?

I’ve managed to get an international front office team, which is an interesting mix of personalities and not very easy to attain. I have a team that includes members from China, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Russia, Mongolia, and Bhutan.