New recruit interview: Address Dubai Marina's Riad Abi Haidar

Riad Abi Haidar believes that understanding and improving customer experience is key in staying ahead of the competition

Riad Abi Haidar, general manager, Address Dubai Marina
Riad Abi Haidar, general manager, Address Dubai Marina

What inspired you to join the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is constantly evolving and is one of the fastest growing sectors globally. It enables you to develop yourself  professionally and personally. The industry is also diverse and offers tremendous opportunities for growth. And connecting with guests helps me in understanding the latest trends and expectations, further tailoring our experiences based on their needs.

How does this job add to your career progression plans?
When I started out in the hospitality industry, I was keen to become a director of food and beverage. However, over time, my career goals changed, and I began to realise that my objective was in further evolving my skills and strengths in other roles too. It is at this point that I began to understand my true career goals.

Tell us a bit about the other markets you have worked in and how that compares to your current role?
I have been lucky to have been able to travel to many countries and have lived in Europe for eight years. My time in Europe was spent attempting to understand European culture and traditions, and how they do things. I have worked in France, Switzerland and the UK.

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In what ways are you planning to add to the success of the hotel?
Guest experience is at the forefront of everything. We strive to continue maintaining our position, building loyalty locally and internationally, as well as improving our service standards and ensuring seamless and memorable experiences are provided to our guests. A motivated team assists in creating happy experiences for our guests, so my focus is on working with the team, recognising good work, as well as keeping their morale high. I am mandated with strengthening the strategic positioning of the hotel, delivering creative initiatives to engage guests, and enhancing operational efficiency.

What are some of the challenges you foresee in your current role and how do you plan to address them?
When you work in a dynamic and rapidly growing city like Dubai, the greatest challenge is to keep an eye on the latest trends. Customer behaviour keeps on changing, guests have many choices, and it is essential for us to be present on all communications channels. In the current world, online bookings and room prices vary from one website to another. I have observed that hotels that offer fixed rates tend to miss out on opportunities that can deliver huge profits. As a general manager, I feel that we cannot rely only on revenue management to monitor and recommend pricing and to ensure and maintain a steady flow of guests all year-round. The other challenge is to understand the millennial generation, familiarise them with our business, and let them experience our unique proposition. My job is about people and ways to meet and exceed guest expectations. The challenge, then, comes to delegating and leveraging team strengths; and it’s also about finding, hiring, developing, and retaining great people.

Can you describe any new initiatives or programmes that you are planning to introduce as part of your new position?
As part of the Emaar Hospitality Group initiative, we have recently introduced Winnow at the hotel and are aiming to cut food waste by half this year using advanced data analytics. The initiative follows Emaar Hospitality Group’s public pledge to help save one million meals in the UAE in 2018.

In what ways do you feel the operation at your new hotel can be improved and how do you plan to go about that?
As a property that exemplifies the brand values of Address Hotels and Resorts, Address Dubai Marina stands out for its sophisticated architecture and design, elegant interiors, outstanding food and beverage concepts, and a wide range of amenities that appeal to both business and leisure travellers. The performance of the hotel has been great, and it is a leading hotel in Dubai Marina. We will continue to offer superior guest experiences for our customers underlining Address Dubai Marina’s premium position and creating long-term value.

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