Hatem Gasmi is proud to Lead auris’s portfolio of alcohol-free hotels with both regional presence and international standards of hospitality.
Auris is “getting ready for the digital natives” — the next generation of hotel customers who whose travel decisions are defined by the internet, and who rely on online reputations, real-time access to information, online shopping and safe payments across multiple digital platforms.
Gasmi tells Hotelier: “The vision of our company is to transform a guest’s experience into a digital journey, expressly refined and individually tailored to reflect their choices and offer them a voice in defining the level of service they receive. The travel market is much more than a business, it is a community, and the Auris Group is determined to refine the touchpoints that will transform guests into ambassadors in the digital space.”
The company’s website is a collection of individual webpages for every property. It is regularly updated to post promotions, announcements and other events. To reach a wider audience, Auris Hotels is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, where it aims to introduce the brand to prospective customers and increase awareness.
The Auris story began in 2008 when Gasmi set out to develop a group of multi-brand ‘dry’ hotels and hotel apartments ranging from two-star to five-star. That he did so at the height of the financial crisis and with limited financial resources, makes the company’s success all the more impressive.
“I founded Auris because I believed in the brilliant future of tourism and hospitality in Dubai, the UAE and the region. I did not found a company to last a few years, but to remain forever,” Gasmi says. “My trust and confidence in the regional economic, financial, social and cultural environment were my main motives to establish Auris Hotels.”
As well as the four hotels currently in operation (employing 615 staff), a further 11 are in the pipeline — four in the UAE, four in Saudi Arabia, two in Oman and one in the Sudan. Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia and France are also under consideration in line with the company’s vision to be present in 15 countries by 2020.
With occupancy rates ranging from 75% to 90% and gross operating profit ranging from 40% to 60%, shareholders have enjoyed a seven-times return on capital.
Gasmi reveals that Auris’s growth has necessitated an ongoing improvement process to reinforce the market perception of the group’s ‘Freedom of Choice’ concept — developed to offer guests the opportunity to determine the comfort and luxury they want based on their perception of ‘value for money’.
Thus, while the brand strives to offer a similar setting in all its properties, it provides different facilities, locations and price points to give guests a wide variety of options to choose from. “Our vison is to offer an alternative to traditional look-alike hotels,” Gasmi says.
Auris is the Latin word for ‘ear’ and shares the same roots as the word aurum, which means ‘gold’ — suggesting a propensity to listen to customers and deliver hospitality standards of the highest quality. For Gasmi the management challenge is “leading the company, while building unity in a time of change with direct and open communication”.
“We have stakeholders who contribute to the wheel with every turn — our guests, partners, investors, associates — they all need open, timely and valuable information always,” he says.
“I am inspired by one of the major voices of moderation and gradualism — Habib Bourguiba. Hence I am a devoted disciple of step-by-step evolution; changing people’s mentality; education and training; and direct communication”