From being a part of Hyatt’s Global Inclusion & Diversity Council to being a recipient for Hyatt’s 2017 Purpose Award, Fathi Khogaly, general manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai believes in putting people first. Here he tells Mahak Mannan about his priorities as a general manager and the secrets to a happy team.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Back when I was a child in Egypt, I remember how my parents would have this open-door concept, where we open our hearts and our home to family, friends, relatives, and even strangers. Welcoming and entertaining people brought me so much joy that my mother suggested I take up hospitality as a profession. Since then, I have been part of the Hyatt family for over 31 years now, and it has been a privilege to work for this company. I started my career in hospitality in 1987 with Hyatt Regency Cairo in the F&B department and was shortly transferred to Hyatt Regency Dubai. My time at Hyatt Regency Dubai was a vital part in my career as it opened doors for me. It led to my progression as director of events at Grand Hyatt Dubai for the pre-opening team, followed by resident manager at the Galleria at Hyatt Regency Dubai.
How has that influenced your management philosophy?
My experience has made me believe in people, in the power of being positive, and having a vision. All my decisions are centred on motivating my team to achieve our business goals and mentoring individuals to succeed in their careers. People can do so much when you allow them to take ownership of their roles. In my team, we are all general managers. It is my inherent belief that people from all walks of life can do wonders and even surpass themselves once you provide them with a good work environment. This philosophy is a part of me, and also in the DNA of Hyatt
What would you say are the main factors that make a great GM?
A great general manager is so much more than just making the bottom line. It is about embracing change and being innovative, shaping people and teams, and the environment they work in. This can only be achieved if the general manager is willing to listen, share knowledge, collaborate, be well informed about the industry, motivating, and humble.
How do you feel the hotel is performing this year?
The hotel has been performing positively so far, and the future is looking good too.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the region’s hospitality market?
There is tough competition in this region when it comes to the hospitality sector, as each country within the GCC is continuously investing in tourism and taking on initiatives such as easing visa norms, making it more convenient for tourists to travel here. Having said that, this is driving the development of more mid-market hotels and reaching a larger demographic of consumers. There is a steady growth, but it has slowed down.
What are the operational priorities for you as a GM?
Everything is a priority. From ensuring there is cool running water around the hotel, especially during the summer, to making sure we are achieving our budgets.
What are your main target markets, segmentation, etc?
With a property such as Grand Hyatt Dubai and our facilities we cater to a broad range of target market and segmentation, whether it be leisure guests, corporate individuals, social events or large international conventions.
What are the hotel’s sales and marketing strategies?
We keep it very simple and effective at Grand Hyatt Dubai by making sure we keep up with the trends and stay active on social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Google. With this generation, and the way that the world evolving technology is everything. Social media has its pros and cons like anything else, and we use it as a platform to communicate with our guests or potential customers.