Comment: The lights are not off

Palazzo Versace Dubai managing director Monther Darwish explains why his property is striving for business, not survival

Monther Darwish
Monther Darwish

While most of the industries are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a primordial necessity for any business to look after the safety of its people. We can, as leaders and business people, assess and fix the damage later.

There’s a massive impact COVID-19 has on the hospitality sector, with many losses not yet predicted and many things we cannot answer yet. Is it a permanent loss? Is it a delayed cash flow issue? Can we expect people to have an increased appetite for travelling after so much time in lockdown? Will they still fear and opt for inbound holidays? As hoteliers, owners or shareholders we all need these answers.

There’s one thing we know for sure, a crisis like this one brings in new opportunities also and opens ways for new business models. Think of the new delivery concepts, where many luxury F&B businesses in the UAE have opted in, think of working on all those activities that were always pushed forward because you always had to prioritise business. This time is also an opportunity to think of new ways to retain and develop talent, rethink your standard operating procedures or assess the demand and the pricing strategy. Most importantly, keep communicating and engaging with your audience and make them aware of the importance of going through this together.

The global travel ecosystem is suffering, and we all must be ready to recover from a financial standpoint. At Palazzo Versace Dubai, we will take this downtime to analyse and asses the leads for next season and find new ways to maximise revenue. We don’t know when the world will open for business again, yet it’s not a waiting game for us. We have already started navigating the road to recovery by seeking out domestic market opportunities by reassuring our guests that staying at Palazzo Versace Dubai is safe. It is still a memorable experience, even in a pandemic.

We all predict that the travel sector will have an inevitable return of demand, that’s why we continue to communicate to our guests all the changes in our business, reassuring them that we go above and beyond to ensure their safety, now or whenever they choose to stay with us.

We have responded to this crisis by choosing to remain open as a hotel and though many experts say the industry is “down on its knees”, I have never seen its spirits higher. There’s a strong desire for us all to overcome this situation and this keeps us competitive like always. We strive for business, not for survival. The lights are not off.

About the author
An Emirati entrepreneur, Monther Darwish, started his career early in 2000s. His portfolio of businesses spans over several sectors and industries, from hospitality to real estate, tourism, general trading and interior design. He has been associated with Palazzo Versace Dubai since 2013 and the managing director of the property since 2017. As vice-chairman of ENSHAA PSC, Darwish is responsible for expanding the company’s portfolio of businesses in the United Arab Emirates.

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