Interview: Peacock International CEO Ghassan Jaber
We discover how the hotel management company creates hotels
Peacock International CEO Ghassan Jaber outlines his company’s distinctive speciality in turning an empty shell into a fully fledged hotel management company
Having been in Dubai for the last seven years, Peacock International Hotel Management has learnt to do things slightly differently. As well as offering hotels in the Middle East a fairly standard hotel management service, it also takes on projects which have allowed it to corner a specific market essential for independent hotel owners.
Speaking to Hotelier Middle East, Peacock International CEO and founder Ghassan Jaber outlines how the company has progressed from its Canadian origins to establish itself as one of the leading specialists in providing hotel branding services in the Middle East.
This rapid rise has seen the company establish or rebrand 23 independent hotels across the region, while also taking on a management portfolio consisting of 15 hotels totalling approximately 900 rooms. When asked the secret of his success, Jaber insists it lies in knowing when it is best to walk away.
“Say you are the owner of a building,” explains Jaber, “and you are planning on turning that building into a hotel. We come in and offer the usual consultancy services to you, but we will also give you the option to either give the property to us to manage, under the name Peacock, or we can create a whole new hospitality brand for you, which is a direction a lot of owners follow”.
What Peacock International claims to offer is the ability to create a fully-fledged hotel division, under a brand of the owner’s choosing, and by managing all of the necessary pre-opening procedures, handing the owners the keys to their own brand new hotel company.
After opening, Peacock then gives the owner the option to manage the operations of the hotel for a period of one, two or five years.
“Basically, when we begin we have simply the owner of a building, and by the time we’re done they have their own hotel management company. This gives the owner the option to turn to us when they are ready and say ‘thank you very much, you’ve done a good job, but I will take it from here’, and they can carry on the work we have done, without us,” says Jaber.
“Hotel owners are beginning to question why they should get engaged with the traditional large hotel chains, which impose all their rules and regulations in a contract that could last for 10 to 20 years.
With our package, owners have the freedom to handle their own investment and over the past two to three years, we’ve created more than five hotel management companies across the UAE and the GCC,” he says.
Loving and Leaving
One example that Jaber gives is Samaya Hotels and Resorts, which Peacock first worked with in 2007. With an investor in Sharjah, Peacock created the Samaya brand and opened two properties in Dubai and Sharjah, and provided the owner with an internationally recognised set of brand guidelines and a hotel administrative division.
Once the work had been completed Peacock then signed a hotel management agreement with Samaya to manage its properties for the next four years, after which they parted ways.
“With Samaya we established everything for them from A to Z, we managed the properties for four years, but after that we left and both properties are now doing perfectly fine,” says Jaber.
He acknowledges that short-term contracts pose risks to his company, with some revenue streams also being short-term, but says the benefits outweigh the challenges.
“It can be a problem sometimes where after four years that client is gone, that stream of revenue, but it’s great to feel the gratitude we receive and the ongoing relationship we have with our clients, even after the contract has finished,” explains Jaber.
“Take a market such as Dubai, and are there are hundreds of international properties, but at the same time, there is the same number of hotels that are being managed by individuals.
If you look at some areas, there are just as many hotels being managed by an owner, or a representative of the owner, as there are big hotel chains, and all of those are potential clients of ours,” he says.
One such independent owner is the Lords Group of Hotels, a UAE-based brand that Peacock is working with to establish a new series of standard operation procedures. In addition he is overseeing the refurbishment of two hotels, in order to raise the group’s three hotels from their current three-star classification to four-star.
“We will be working based on the DTCM rules and regulations, and we will make sure that all of the facilities required of a four-star hotel will be located in the property. We’ll also be restructuring the hotel’s management set up, by providing them with new operating manuals and best practice, to ensure that they are operating to the standards of a four-star hotel,” explains Jaber.
“The other part of the process is working on the financial structure of the group, where we provide our clients with the latest projections on the market while also ensuring that they are providing the right level of service at the correct cost,’ he adds.
Peacock International will also be involved in the pre-opening of the group’s new 263-room Grand Lords, Dubai hotel apartments, due to open in June 2014, while seeking more projects outside of the UAE.
“The success of this system is why we are expanding into the rest of the Middle East. We were the first hotel company to open a five-star hotel in Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan, Iraq, with the Highcrest Hotel, while we have also managed properties in Qatar and are now expanding into Saudi Arabia,” concludes Jaber.
- Date established: 2001 in Canada and 2007 in Dubai, UAE.
- No. of operating hotels: 15
- No. of current rooms: Approx. 900 (renovations occurring)
- No. of upcoming hotels: 7
- No. of upcoming rooms: 1,100
- No. of consulting hotels: 6