Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai's Victoria Kashakashvili talks about trends and challenges. Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai's Victoria Kashakashvili talks about trends and challenges.

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

I graduated in 1998, having majored in international economics. My first job was at a local bank in Georgia, and this was followed by a role at an auditing company. My career in the hospitality industry began after I worked as a waitress for a one-day event at the Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel. I got a call the following day from the hotel for an interview, after which they hired me. That was in 2002, and that was how I began this wonderful journey.

What are your responsibilities at the hotel?

As the assistant food and beverage manager at Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, in addition to my day-to-day responsibilities, I supervise the hotel’s F&B operations. This includes a lot of admin tasks, as this is a crucial period for us, as we plan the hotel budgets for 2018.

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What brings you back to Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai?

I have a strong emotional connection to Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai. It was the hotel where I first worked after arriving in Dubai, and it’s where I developed my career. I am thankful for the opportunity and guidance that the general manager and the hotel’s team have given me during the course of all these years. I didn’t think twice when they called me with an opportunity to return and once again be a part of the energetic team at this wonderful hotel.

Bur Dubai has no shortage of F&B outlets. How do you attract guests to the hotel’s restaurants?

I have worked in Bur Dubai for many years and I know the clientele in this neighbourhood, the regulars, and their demands, tastes, and preferences. Using this knowledge, we tailor our menus to suit the customers, to make sure they keep coming back for more. Our promotions are supported by communication to our target audience via various channels — calls, e-mails, social media, and so on.

What F&B trends have you seen emerging recently?

One trend I’ve noticed is the change in customer preferences when it comes to eating habits. Most have become health-conscious, so we have incorporated healthy options into our menus. The second trend is ease of access — most customers love the idea of home delivery, which they can order with just a few clicks on their mobile phone or laptop. This not only allows customers to choose from a wide variety of options, but also lets them customise their orders, for instance by picking their pizza toppings or choosing their own side dishes. As a result of this trend, a few of our restaurants are now on Uber Eats.

Finally, I think most of the customers nowadays are very hands-on and usually like to get in touch with restaurants directly via social media channels, whether they have a query, want to make a booking, or need to notify them of a complaint. This enables them to get an immediate response.

What are some of the challenges you face?

Price difference is the key challenge we face, as most restaurants are offering certain promotions with very low price-points, and this increases the competition. Even a few five-star properties are now competing on price.

Another challenge is the emerging third-party channels that heavily promote restaurant offers in exchange for a commission fee. While they are effective in bringing in covers, it becomes a challenge for us when considering the food and beverage cost and finalising our selling price.

Finally there is the challenge of the crowded marketplace. So many hotels have opened, with more opening all the time, and they all have their own restaurants to promote. The number of standalone restaurants, and of those in shopping malls, has also risen. This all increases the level of competition in the sector.