Hotel News Middle East catches up with Rogier M. Hurkmans, cluster general manager Wyndham Dubai Marina/ TRYP by Wyndham Dubai, about how guests expect a different experience these days…
It’s a new frontier for hoteliers who are having to adapt to the digital age by reaching out to bloggers and influencers.
Gone are the days when hotels would appeal to new customers by paying for print advertising, says Rogier M. Hurkmans, cluster general manager Wyndham Dubai Marina/ TRYP by Wyndham Dubai.
Hurkmans was speaking to Hotel News Middle East ahead of the opening of the 650-room TRYP by Wyndham Dubai, which is expected to take place imminently in the Al Barsha region of the city – which is aimed at “the urban traveller” and is putting the emphasis on the digital market.
“Everyone is trying to find their niche in the market but for TRYP by Wyndham it’s about providing a lifestyle product for the urban traveller,” he says.
“We are trying to do things a little different and appeal to the young at heart.”
One tangible way in which the hotel is appealing to younger, more tech-savvy, customers is by offering guests the chance to stream their devices to their in-room televisions.
“We’re giving guests the choice to stream their devices to our entertainment device, it’s similar to Apple TV but also works for Android devices as well,” he says.
“You can add your personal pictures and video or even just watch your Netflix account.”
It’s clear that Hurkmans sees the future of hotels as being digital and that’s reflected in how he views his hotels’ social media strategy.
“We are very active with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, a lot is happening there and, in fact, it’s our main focus,” he says.
“We don’t use print advertising anymore, it’s all about the modern channels of connecting with potential clients via influencers and bloggers.”
Hurkmans insists that the advent of social media and online reviews means that hoteliers have to be constantly at the top of their game.
“You have to deliver a first-rate quality service and give the guests what they expect,” he says.
“You cannot try and pull the wool over their eyes, guests will quickly notice and before you know it there will be negative reviews up on social media and TripAdvisor.”
Hurkmans says he has noticed a particular resurgence in visitors from the Russian language-speaking market to Dubai.
“So far 2017 has been going well in terms of occupancy figures, one definite area that has increased is the number of Russian language speaking visitors to Dubai,” he says.
“We are seeing an increase from a year and a half ago when the Russian market was down, that gives us the chance to look at targeting that specific sector and creating strategic partnerships.”
The new TRYP property will offer something different, according to Hurkmans, to the traditional hotel experience in Dubai.
“We have found our USP by being tech savvy and the good thing is that, with 650 rooms, it means you can have larger groups,” he says.
“If the property is a little bit smaller then you have to divide between various properties but we have the inventory to cater for different groups.”
Despite a global tightening on the finances, Dubai hasn’t suffered nearly as much as other parts of the world and with good reason, according to Hurkmans.
“What has been created is really awesome and special,” he says. “To capitalise on that, there’s a lot of new supply coming in, there’s Expo2020, there are the parks, it will all help to bring in even more visitors to Dubai.
“You have to look at it optimistically. Dubai and DTCM are really putting the focus on the right markets and it proves there is very much still a demand for Dubai.”
To prove his point he tells a tale that is literally close to home.
“My family is still living in Germany and I have an eight-year-old boy and in his class all the children know about Dubai,” he says.
“To me that just makes me go ‘wow’ and it shows you the pull of the place. Imagine that it’s so far away and all these little guys there know about Dubai and are saying ‘I want to go there’.”
It’s one thing to wax lyrical about Dubai itself, but to be a success in such a crowded market you really need to stand out and that’s one area where Hurkmans has no concerns.
“You just have to look at the views here on one side you have the Dubai Eye wheel and on the other you have the Dubai Marina,” he says, gesturing to the window of the Wyndham Dubai Marina.
“That’s one of the things that makes this place special. It’s not like so many other areas of Dubai in that there’s nothing but views of high-rise buildings and that’s what makes this place unique.”
The ease of access is an area to where Hurkmans points as being another string to the hotel’s bow.
“People always say the Sheikh Zayed Road hotels are the easiest to reach but with us all you have to do is take Exit 29 and drive into the hotel, it’s easy to get out too, you don’t have the JBR traffic, the accessibility is brilliant,” he says.
Having a great location is all well and good but you have to be able to deliver results, something that Hurkmans is all too aware of.
“We are in business to make profit. In order to make profit you have to make sure guests are happy, make sure you have the right talent around you, empowering people and giving them responsibility so they can grow,” he says.
Occupancy levels in Dubai are practically the envy of the rest of the world but the one area of concern, for the entire region, is that the rates aren’t increasing.
“There is an issue with the rates not growing anymore, there is more and more supply coming in on top of that,” he says.
“You are under pressure and need to make sure profit margins are on the same level, you have to be more clever, it’s not about taking away services but making sure your organisation is a little more lean.”