We speak to James Berry, the recently appointed general Manager at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, on his new role.
Tell us about yourself.
I started as a waiter 23 years back and fell in love with hospitality. I have been a general manager for ten years now at five different properties and have been fortunate enough to manage new openings, renovations, managed, franchised and owned businesses with luxury 5-star and 4-star properties across multiple brands including some of the most iconic hotels in central London.
How has that influenced your management philosophy?
I think the front line experience and the progression path has lead me to become an experienced leader of people, simply because I know what it feels like and have been in those front line shoes. I treat people as I expect to be treated and firmly believe you are only as good as your weakest link. Be humble, be personable and remember, the manager is never as important as the newest front line team member.
What would you say are the main factors that make a great general manager?
I believe it is taking responsibility for the people, guests, owners, and company stakeholders very seriously. A good general manager should demonstrate integrity, consistency, and fairness while also taking decisions that need to be taken. If you sit behind a desk and take a salary you will fail. Another important factor is to love what you do, I enjoy leading and looking after people.
How do you feel the hotel is performing this year?
I am very excited to have joined a hotel with such history in a place where everything is new for ten seconds and has little history. Everyone knows Radisson Blu, Media City and everyone loves it. They tell me about the good times they have had here and also how it should be run!
So far, occupancy is good, we have a well-established business and the bars are doing particularly well again because we have a loyal local following. Our guest satisfaction continues to grow which is the main positive for me.
What are your targets and expectations for the near future?
Given the core of our hotel is the great team, being in a great location and a well-known brand, we have to aim high and stretch ourselves. We need to hit new heights in guest performance and I need to engage my team to do that.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the region’s hospitality market?
I think it is great that so much development and growth is going on, everyone wants to be here and be a part of this growth. I also enjoy competition, it keeps me motivated. Also, it has emerged. Hoteliers need to stop talking about an emerging market, Dubai is now established. This means stable levels of demand which should be reflected in price positioning with clear divisions of brand category, if managed properly.
What are the operational priorities for you as a general manager?
Loving what I do every day and making sure people see that. I ensure I look after my team as they look after me, the guest, and the business.
What are your main target markets?
Our core business is the local corporate market, this doesn’t change. We target growth in the leisure periods to better support our core business.
What is the hotels sales and marketing strategy?
We are the heart of Dubai Media City, we serve it and it serves us and have done this for 12 years. We have to engage our clients and look after our guests, both residential and transient all our strategies are geared around this.
Your thoughts on digital strategies in today’s market?
It’s important and has to be done right, you can become white noise with too much, and less credible if you are posting something just for the sake of doing so.
How does your property fit into the hotel group’s portfolio?
Very well, an established stylish business hotel in a prime urban location with high levels of service and a long lasting owner partner, has created many memorable moments for our guests.
Current Hotel Performance Figures
Average Daily Rate: 580
Average length of stay: 1.6
Turnover as room revenue: 55%
Turnover as F&B revenue : 40%