Five Minutes With: Hotel manager, Aloft City Centre Deira

Gurnoor Bindra chats to us about her journey through hospitality and the current state of the industry

Gurnoor Bindra
Gurnoor Bindra

Gurnoor Bindra has been in hospitality for more than 11 years, starting out in finance before shifting gears to hotel operation. In 2020 she is the hotel manager at Aloft City Centre Deira. She recently chatted with Hotelier Middle East about her management philosophy, her motivations and her predictions for the industry.

Describe your path into hospitality
I started my career in the hospitality industry with a finance role as a senior accountant from where I transitioned into corporate operations role as an operations analyst given my financial and analytical background. From there on, my journey in hotel operations began, where in my last corporate role as a regional operations manager for South Asia I was responsible for opening and converting different brands for Starwood across India, Bhutan & Bangladesh.

Did you always want to be a hotelier?
My entry into hotels was pure destiny as I did my specialisation in finance with an intention to pursue a career in corporate finance. I did pursue a career in accounting and finance for three years before I joined the hospitality industry. But now if I am given a choice to choose my career path all over again, I would still definitely choose hotels as I love working within the industry and the dynamic environment we operate in.

How would you describe your management philosophy?
Management style has to differ depending on the type of people and number of people you manage. Everyone has their own strengths & weaknesses, identifying and nurturing these in each individual will not only help them grow further in their careers but will also help the entire team function better as a whole. I truly believe that listening to your voice of business and voice of associates helps to manage the team with relevance and keeps your management style agile where you change your strategies as per the needs of the business and team.

How do you feel the hotel has performed over the past year?
2019 was the first year the Aloft City Center Deira was fully operational. It was the year the hotel ramped up very well and saw a gradual increase in both financial and non-financial KPIs.

There have been a number of changes within the leadership team in the hotel from myself taking over in August 2019 to sales followed by operations which has led to a variety of new strategies and direction for the 2nd half last year and defining goals for 2020.

What are your targets and expectations for next year?
We as a team are very excited to continue the journey of constant improvement and enhancing our KPIs even further in 2020. We have set higher targets in 2020 vs 2019 since the hotel is stabilising and we continue to focus on our unique features like the VOX Outdoor Cinema, direct connectivity to the Deira City Centre Mall, cinematic theme suites, as well as great views of the creek and the Dubai skyline.

Have you noticed any trends in the hospitality industry over the past year?
Trends within the hospitality seem to be evolving on a regular basis and that is due to the ever-changing demands and supply within the industry.

F&B continues to be very driven by discounts and value for money promotions. One evident trend is converting fixed expenses into variable expenses in order to be able to match up to the variable revenues to protect profitability margins of the outlets.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Dubai hospitality market?
Dubai hospitality market has a lot to offer to consumers In terms of choice of brands, price points and experiences. It is a very favorable market for our guests who can be spoilt for choice. The market will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our guests. This should encourage the hoteliers to think out of the box to run hotels to find innovative and smart solutions to meet our guest expectations and to protect our profit margins.

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