Top 10 insights by Jumeirah CEO Gerald Lawless
Hotelier Middle East shares sneak peak insights in to the exiting CEO's last interview as head of the Jumeirah Group
After 18 years with the Jumeirah Group, Gerald Lawless will move on from his role as president and CEO at the end of this month.
As Lawless takes on a new role within the corporate office of Dubai Holding, Stefan Leser will replace Lawless as the new CEO of Dubai-born hospitality company Jumeirah.
Hotelier Middle East caught up with Lawless in his last month as Jumeirah CEO (Leser’s appointment will be effective from February 1 2016).
Gerald Lawless’ last interview as Jumeirah CEO will be out in full in the February print edition of Hotelier Middle East magazine.
Until then, you can read early extracts of Lawless' exit interview with us, through these top ten quotations from the CEO.
In honour of Lawless' legacy over the last 18 years, Hotelier Middle East has cherry picked some of the exiting CEO’s wisdom and statements, covering Jumeirah strategy and future projects, as well as trends in the Middle East's hospitality industry as a whole.
Gerald Lawless on company strategy
“What’s more important to us than, say the number of hotels for the ‘Jumeirah – Stay Different’ [brand] is actually quality locations, and right locations with really good investors and owners.”
On international expansion
“It’s important for us that we have what we call our key letterhead locations so it could be cities, it could be locations for resorts, places like the Maldives where we are already, or Seychelles, Mauritius.
"We have about eight properties coming up in China, and even by Chinese standards we are in important cities. We’d be very interested as well to get into Hong Kong.”
Gerald Lawless on the MOU with Saudi
“It’s very much opportunistic but we’re looking to set up the financing so that hotels can be developed. They have locations already which is very, very encouraging so the actual sites are already there.
"We hope 2016 to be extremely active for Shua coming to fruition on a number of potential projects.”
On Jumeirah Al Naseem
“Actually coming into the lobby, it’s a three-storey window that will frame the Burj Al Arab. You can imagine the sense of arrival that we would have there.”
On Jumeirah Inside
“I strongly believe that rather than discouraging people from travel, it will encourage them to travel. The more you see something, that doesn’t in any way detract them to see it physically – it encourages them to do so and that’s the same theory we’re employing with the virtual reality.”
Gerald Lawless on new hotels entering the market
“Dubai is always about quality. I don’t think Dubai will ever lose that dedication to top quality in whatever it does. So if you do three star, it should be the best three-star.”
“We always have competition, and the hotel business is a very competitive business. In Dubai, with all the new hotel rooms coming on here over the next five years, that’s going to be competition. But if we can’t stand up to competition, then we shouldn’t be doing the job.”
On supply entering the market
“The market balances itself ultimately. If you don’t have the hotels, you can’t attract the people to come here. You need to have the hotel rooms to make sure that you continue to bring people in.”
Gerald Lawless on F&B in hotels
“Restaurants are a dynamic part of the hospitality business at the moment, you see it in Dubai… there’s a new restaurant opening every day. F&B is such an important and integral part of what a hotel has to offer.”
On hospitality training in local communities
“We have this concept that [if] we build a hotel in a remote place, we should try to make sure that we make the local community employable in the hotel.
"Very often you may have to set up an educational institute like a school, to teach the youngsters English, give them training during the period of time it takes to open the hotel so that ultimately the hotel actually does a lot of good in the community. To me, that’s very important.”