EXCLUSIVE: Jumeirah Group's Nicholas Clayton Q&A

Nicholas Clayton talks to Hotelier about his plans for 2014

Nicholas Clayton, chief operating officer, Jumeirah Group.
Nicholas Clayton, chief operating officer, Jumeirah Group.

Jumeirah Group chief operating officer Nicholas Clayton discusses upcoming challenges in the industry, targeting Generation Y and the importance of leadership.

1. How can the hotel industry best entice new, young talent?

Inspiring Leadership will entice and retain bright young talent within the industry. Leaders with passion and integrity who are willing to share their organisation’s successes. Compensation and benefits will need to maintain pace in a competitive global work environment by adding profit sharing and equity based solutions.

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2. What do you think are the main challenges hotel GMs will face in 2014?

As in all businesses the key to success is top line sales, managing to produce profit is so much easier when the revenue targets have been realised. General managers must literally become the leaders of revenue generation for their businesses. Therefore direct sales, revenue management/distribution and e-commerce become vital skills for general managers in today’s economy.

3. The rejuvenation of hotel F&B has been a hot topic in 2013, with some hotels restructuring F&B management, hiring at the corporate level, etc. What is your approach to reinvigorating F&B in 2014?

Jumeirah’s approach to maximising the value of food & beverage operations involves a two prong approach. We operate a completely separate business called RnB (Restaurants & Bars) which positions our dining outlets as free standing businesses. Top leadership talent on the management and culinary sides of the business as well as distinctive approaches to entertainment, promotions and marketing. In addition we have a capital investment plan to re- conceptualise as many as 30 restaurants over the next two years…look out for Jumeirah RnB!

4. What are the key travel trends you are seeing emerge?

It’s all about digital as the world’s most wealthy become younger and the need for “instant gratification” increases. People want what they want…now! Of course the booking trends of our leisure customers reflect a greater number of holiday experiences executed with a more spontaneous mindset. Business and Leisure travelers are making booking decisions based on the hotel’s programming, in other words “what are the exciting things I can do during this travel experience”.

5. What are you doing to target new markets such as the BRIC market and Generation Y travellers?

Focusing on design and functionality in developing our new products and services. Guest Rooms have to facilitate business and leisure use, therefore careful planning has to be carried out around entertainment components, bathroom fixtures and the all-important sleeping experience. Public Spaces should offer elements of theatre and guest participation. We will leverage our strengths in Wellness, Retail and RNB to capture these important markets.

6. With smartphones and tablets becoming key customer service tools, what mobile services are you providing for guests?

Our mobile site, launched in late 2011, was recently enhanced to offer content in five languages: English, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian and German. Jumeirah is the first brand in the luxury hotel segment to provide a mobile website in such a diverse choice of languages, placing it ahead of other luxury hotel brands. Since January 2013, more than 1,400 room nights have been booked globally via the mobile site. The most popular hotels for mobile bookings were Burj al Arab and Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. The site was also enhanced to offer the room upgrade functionality. It is available at m.jumeirah.com

7. Where in the GCC do you see scope for diversification of the market and how are you targeting price-conscious customers?

Over the past 24 months Jumeirah has intensified efforts to capture the support of our GCC guests. More consistent presence in the region coupled with senior level support have communicated our commitment to the Region. Because of our successful operations flexibility on price is a matter of day-to-day management; however our city properties are uniquely positioned to provide excellent value for this important market.

8. What is your vision for 2014?

Our vision for 2014 includes three key priorities which represent the foundation of Jumeirah’s strategy. Deliver Results; we realize our owner’s expect exceptional returns and it is our responsibility to achieve agreed upon financial and quality targets. Engage with primary constituents; we are in a business which is interdependent in relation to guests, colleagues, owners, travel partners, suppliers, press and the communities in which we operate.

Jumeirah has developed strategies to engage and serve each one of these important stakeholders. Grow the company; our success in Dubai has allowed us the opportunity to grow the brand on an international basis. Going forward Jumeirah expects to expand the number of hotels and resorts in the world’s most exciting destinations in order to better serve our most loyal following.

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