Philip Jones, General Manager of Movenpick JBR in Dubai, discusses the hotel’s performance, the state of the hospitality industry in 2018 and expectations for 2019.
How has the hotel performed over the last few years given the economic climate?
Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach has continued to perform very well, nearly 10 years into operation, we continue to run a stable 85% occupancy throughout the year. We are fortunate with our location, as there are two areas that run very good occupancy within Dubai, The Palm and Jumeirah Beach Residence.
We all understand however that average rates are aligning to more normalized level. If we look back at average rates achieved by hotels in 2007 or 2008, before the first economic crash, we see an average rate of a beach-front 5 star hotel over high season at nearly US$ 1000, which in the long run is unattainable, if Dubai is going to position itself as a leading destination and reach the number of tourist arrivals that it hopes to do. Part of achieving that number of tourist arrivals is making the destination more accessible, and in order to do so, prices have to come down so that the average middle-income to high middle-income person can afford Dubai throughout the year.
Despite this shift in dynamic, the property remains very successful and profitable.
How has 2018 been in the hospitality sector in the UAE? What have been the primary challenges?
2018 has continued to see a significant supply growth within the market and this has had an impact in the rates, which can be seen negatively on a property level, but positively on the destination level as it attracts a greater number of guests. In the long run, however, we remain very optimistic, with the development of projects such as the new Dubai Cruise Ship Terminal which is scheduled to handle 1.2 million tourists a year when finished, the launch of Ain Dubai, and other tourist attractions that will create more demand drivers especially in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area.
Philip Jones, GM, Movenpick JBR
What trends are you seeing in the sector? Is the customer base changing?
As already mentioned, we are seeing changes with the rates coming down, making the city more accessible to other markets. The customer base has definitely shifted in terms of nationality as well. There has been significant growth in many markets due to the easing of visa regulations. And of course, China and India play a big role in the growing number of tourists arriving into Dubai.
How is technology changing the industry and how are you adapting?
New technologies develop and evolve on a daily basis, and certainly technology like cloud based data storage has changed the way we do business. Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts has been the first major chain to deploy a property management system and point of sale system that is cloud based.. This is very important as it allows for better data storage and security, and we continue to look at new technological innovations. A good example of this is we just included casting within our newly installed televisions which allows guests who travel with their tablet or mobile devices to cast their own personalized content onto the TV screens.
What exciting plans do you have for 2019?
We continue to approach our business in the spirit of continuous quality improvement and therefore always look at ways that we can offer new and exciting experiences. As we move into 2019, we are looking at our recreational and leisure facilities and deciding on some additions and enhancements to the current offering, particularly related to the pool lounge and children facilities.
Product elements aside, one of the most exciting change for us is the integration into the Accor family. As of September 3rd 2018, Mövenpick became part of Accor, and we are thrilled to be now part of their 4,500 hotel portfolio. We are looking forward to the benefits that this will bring in terms of strength in distribution, as well as the ability to benchmark best practices amongst some of their great brands.
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