One to One Hotels & Resorts targets growth from the Saudi Arabian market.
Since reversing the ailing fortunes of One to One Hotels & Resorts shortly after his arrival, Philippe Harb, chief operating officer and partner, has embarked on an aggressive growth strategy. In four years One to One has grown from two just properties, to having 17 in the pipeline spread across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
One to One Hotels & Resorts makes its Saudi Arabian debut later this year, opening four properties in Makkah and Jeddah in the second half of 2015.
Harb is plotting further expansion in the Kingdom, with MOUs signed and management agreements in negotiation for another four properties. To support its expansion, the firm has also opened a dedicated sales and marketing office in Jeddah.
“With the continued growth in business and religious tourism, we entered [Saudi Arabia] to strengthen our leadership position with [four] properties in Makkah and Jeddah, with the first due to open early this year, prior to Ramadan. Religious tourism is extremely important for our growth and presence in the market,” Harb explains.
Aside from One to One’s plans for Saudi Arabia, the brand is expanding its footprint in Qatar and Kuwait. Harb has signed MOUs for properties in both markets and management agreements are being negotiated.
The hotel operator, which is targeting a chain of 25 hotels through a mixture of hotel management contracts, development and acquisitions in the near future, has also extended its reach into North Africa and Asia. Before the end of this year, One to One Hotels & Resorts will have four properties in Thailand, mainly based in Koh Samui and Ko Phangan.
One to One is also adding to its collection of resorts in Morocco. A second Wellness Resort is due to open in Tetouan in the second quarter of 2016.
“It is easy to have ideas, but it’s hard to turn ideas into profit,” says Harb. “Instead of focusing on new construction that could take two to three years, the emphasis has been on converting existing properties and expanding,” he adds. For the properties that One to One Hotels & Resorts has taken over, the firm developed a re-positioning plan for each property.
“We brought in One to One Hotels & Resorts and branched out through the introduction of various brands, whereby each brand has the guest in mind,” comments Harb.
The turnaround story at One to One isn’t just about rapid growth. Harb has also improved the financial performance of the company; increasing RevPar by 10% and gross operating profit by 31%.
The improved financial performance and growth has been achieved with an acute focus on the customer base. “It is important to analyse our customers and understand their needs to be able to cater to them and gain their loyalty,” says Harb.
“Customer and staff engagement have also been crucial in sustaining the company’s image and ensuring healthy growth of the company,” he adds.
“I look to Starwood Hotel & Resorts’ Frits Van Paascchen for inspiration. He was responsible for introducing the W brand”