Barcelo Hotel Group opened its newest project Occidental IMPZ Dubai, Conference and Events Centre last month. The opening signifies the group’s plans to cement its brand presence in the Middle East and significantly increase its footprint across the next five years, and Mahak Mannan spoke to Ahmad Shaban Fernandez, vice president, sales and marketing, GCC, Barcelo Hotel & Resorts, on what the property brings to the market.
The new property is just one of eight new ventures the group has in the pipeline for the Emirates. Barcelo Hotel Group currently operates two other hotels in the region, Barcelo Residences Dubai Marina and Occidental Sharjah Grand, and is set to open a Dubai property, Barcelo Al Jadaf in June 2019.
Ahmad Shaban Fernandez, vice president, sales and marketing, GCC, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts said the latest opening, Occidental IMPZ Dubai is a result of listening to the market needs in order to offer a complete product that caters to the local and international market.
“The new property is our reaction to cater to market needs in a comprehensive way. With the great support of our owning company Al Safeer Group and extended backing from the corporate team in Spain, we have successfully brought a great product to the market that has helped us attract the right calibre of expertise,” Fernandez says.
“At the new property, we have ensured the recruitment of a diversified team that is experienced in dealing with the needs of the local and international clientele. Occidental IMPZ can cater to MICE organisers, International Corporate organisations, Leisure Travellers, and deliver a high standard of food and beverage concepts. For this we needed to gather a comprehensive team that has the right experience to deliver service matching the expectations of a dynamic market like Dubai.”
There were a few hurdles on the way to completion, however, none of those hindered aspects of the final products, according to the VP.
“Like in any other project, the passion behind it and the hunger to reach perfection can be challenged by daily unexpected obstacles, yet and with the expertise of the team on the floor, the faith of our owner in the project , and the full support of our senior teams in Spain, we have been able to overcome all challenges and managed to open the doors of the hotel on 10 September.
And the final product is exactly we aimed for. The project being equipped to meet the expectations of MICE organisers through its meeting spaces, along with the variety of F&B concepts will manage to create different type of traffic into the hotel in a way that will assist in positioning the property within the different source markets and sectors.”
Now that the property is open, there are a number of opportunities that the team has to face in order to keep the hotel running on track.
“ We need to ensure the market coverage of our sales team is creating the right awareness of the new hotel while also earning the trust of the client through spotless service delivery. It also goes without saying that we will need to adapt to the market changes and dynamics as and when required, after all we are part of this market and we need to adapt to its needs,” Fernandez explains.
“Our main target is to position the hotel within a market that has gained enough experience in the hospitality industry over the years, therefore the expectations are high. This is the first Occidental hotel that Barcelo Hotel Group has introduced to the GCC market, therefore it needs to set the known standards of the brand in order to reach the long-term expansion plan the company has. Consistent use of the hotel by the different categories of local and international clientele will give us the targeted index of guest satisfaction, and this will be a big indicator to measure our success.”
Located in International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), the new property is one of the few hotels currently operating in the area.
“IMPZ is an area of development within Dubai and I think the hotel has come into play at the right time, wherein it will have enough time to position itself before the arrival of EXPO 2020. This much anticipated event will leverage the hotel within the area as well as strengthen the positioning of Barcelo Hotel Group as an international hotel chain and operator.”
When guests enter the hotel, they can expect to be greeted by a warm team, positive hospitality vibe, fresh and stylish public areas and rooms, exceptionally high-tech meeting spaces and two roof top swimming pools.
Commenting on the food and beverage offering at the hotel Fernandez said: “The hotel is a fresh product that targets different markets due to its wide concept. It has been designed to mainly serve the MICE segment within Dubai, the region, and even international markets, yet with the different concepts of restaurants and facilities within the hotel, we expect the leisure market to try the hotel. Again we cant forget about the power of the local market within Dubai in driving the F&B concepts around the city.
“Let’s not forget about the fame of Spanish cuisine around the world right now, and the fact that we will be reflecting Spanish hospitality around the entire hotel and not only the restaurants.”
The perfect market coverage and penetration across all sub-segments to have a strong ramp up of the hotel’s opening, the VP says.
The main target market for the hotel includes local and international event organisers, corporate organisations, Eastern and Western European markets, as well as the GCC heavy leisure travels.
“Dubai is a very unique local market with a strong regional and international flavour. Bring a European operator that has been in the industry for a very long time, we will ease the penetration of the international markets and generate traffic into the hotel and city,” Fernandez adds.
“We are trying to maintain a perfect balance between the way we penetrate the offline and online channels. Both are extremely important as we need to take into consideration the different buying habits of different source markets we would want to target. With the difference in hotel management Dubai as a destination is bringing to the market, the entire market is competing today, not against each other but towards keeping and leveraging the current positioning of Dubai on the map of the world.”