News Analysis: The Dubai Way is the right way for hotels

A look at the project that aims to improve service offered to tourists visiting Dubai

Dubai may well become the worlds most-visited city by 2020.
Dubai may well become the worlds most-visited city by 2020.

Dubai is gearing up to welcome 20 million visitors to the emirate by 2020 and is putting in a series of programmes in place to ensure that the service the emirate will offer to incoming tourists is top notch.

The Dubai Way initiative is designed to provide knowledge and improve resourcefulness of hotel employees who work directly with tourists. It is a multi-platform educational training course, which includes videos, interactive activities and online assessments. It is the first of many courses that the Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) plans to provide across the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.

Currently, the programme includes 30 courses which covers topics such as history, culture, key attractions, safety and security, adventure tourism, transportation, F&B and customer service. The self-paced programme is available online in multiple languages including English, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Mandarin.

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According to Dubai College of Tourism general manager Essa Bin Hadher, one of the reasons why this programme was implemented was that by delivering exceptional visitor experiences, Dubai will be better placed to become the most visited city in the world and welcome 20 million visitors by 2020.

“It’s been an outcome of strategies defined a couple of years ago. As Dubai is different from its competitors, with a higher number of annual visits, one of the solutions that can contribute directly to the number of visits is education at a vocational level for people in the tourism industry,” noted
Bin Hadher.

He added that it is the responsibility of people working in the hospitality and tourism industry to stay informed and knowledgeable about Dubai, and everything that a visitor to Dubai can experience.

“The more each of us know our city, the better our interaction with tourists will be,” he said to Hotelier on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market 2018.

According to Bin Hadher, this is both a long-term and a short-term solution to the problem Dubai faces, in terms of front-facing hotel staff who may not be resourceful or know enough about the city.

As 2020 approaches, the goal is to educate 500,000 people through the Dubai Way programme. So far, the Dubai Way programme has been well received by hoteliers in the city.

Commenting on the new programme, Emaar Hospitality Group chief operating officer Olivier Harnisch said that he, along with his leadership team, took part in completing the online training. Harnisch also added that all associates at Emaar will also complete the course by the end of June 2018.

Fairmont Dubai learning and development manager Anuja Ghosh said: “DTCM and Dubai College of Tourism have come up with this fantastic online training and engagement platform, which is mandatory for everyone interacting with tourists. Not only for those in hospitality industry, but also for employees in retail, public transportation, and on many other fields.”

According to Ghosh, Dubai Way gives her colleagues the right know-how to promote Dubai as a great destination; it helps boost Dubai’s economy and consequently supports the hotel to reach its targets. “And most importantly, colleagues are able to give better answers and be more confident in front of guests,” she added.

Bin Hadher added that the Dubai Way is a perfect training and engagement platform for anyone in Dubai who interacts with tourists as part of their job.

“Having the correct knowledge and information about Dubai is a critical part of being able to provide outstanding customer service. With outstanding customer service, you will be better informed to improve the tourism visitor experience.”

The Dubai Way training is completely online. Throughout the Dubai Way programme, there are periodic checkpoints along the way to ensure that hoteliers are learning from the videos and have information that will provide better service to visitors to Dubai.

The online programme, which can also be accessed on all smart mobile devices, is delivered through practical video lessons that offer students the opportunity to learn basic but important information that they can rely on during their regular interaction with tourists. The video toolkit features online activities and assessments and provides interactive knowledge of Dubai’s history and heritage, its future developments, attractions, infrastructure, and as well as lessons in customer service.

It’s a seamless sign-up process, whereby to conduct the training, each colleague will have to log on to the platform with their establishment code and Emirates ID number, which gives DTCM a thorough understanding of each hotel’s progress.

Ghosh elaborated on the programme, saying: “Dubai Way training platform has two levels and eventually all our colleagues have to undergo the training with a 100% completion score. Level two is for front of the house colleagues, who are in direct contact with guests and therefore it's mandatory that they have an in-depth knowledge about the city. Level one is for the back of the house colleagues — a simplified version for those employees, who don’t directly interact with guests.”

Level two of the programme includes 31 training videos, 15 activities and nine mini-assessments, followed by a final assessment. The topics covered during the programme include the following:  ‘Introducing Dubai’,  ‘Life in Dubai’,  ‘Getting Around and Basic Services’,  ‘A Tour of Dubai’s districts’,  ‘Dubai Way of Customer Service’, and ‘Communicating with Travellers’.

The programme will also have constant updates. Ghosh told Hotelier Middle East that “Dubai is rapidly changing and there is a number of projects coming up on a daily basis, therefore the programme will also get renewed every year to ensure that employees will always have the most recent information in hand.”

The cost is US$102 (AED375) per person and the certificate, which each colleague obtains after a successful completion of the training, is valid for two years. For a hotel that has 100 front facing employees, for example, it would amount to $10,211 (AED37,500) to complete the programme.

IHG executives, who were some of the first people to complete the Dubai Way initiative last year, have also praised it as a platform for their employees to contribute towards the success of Dubai’s tourism industry, and in the process, further enhance their individual careers.

“We are focused on developing our people on the job and developing them in terms of their knowledge so they are able to advance in their careers. Dubai Way helps promote Dubai as a great tourism destination, and the more our employees know about Dubai, they will be more informed about their role in helping tourists enjoy their stay in the emirate,” Crowne Plaza Dubai – Deira area general manager George Koumendakos said. “The success of our employees in the Dubai Way programme will certainly be an inspiration to other staff in tourist-facing roles in the emirate.”

Dubai is projected to overtake London for tourist arrivals by 2025 after seeing the highest growth rate in the top 10 of this year’s Euromonitor Top 100 City Destinations Ranking, and according to Bin Hadher: “The Dubai Way programme comes at a key time for Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors, with 15.8 million tourists visiting in 20187. By 2020, that figure will rise to 20 million.”

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