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Interview: Alexander Lee, Chief Commercial Officer, Jumeirah Group

Posted : 20 September 2022 04:58:35 | By TWO Bureau | GNN Bureau

Interview: Alexander Lee, Chief Commercial Officer, Jumeirah Group

Q: How different will your B2B outreach activities be vis-à-vis B2C?

Ans: We have strategies to engage with both B2B and B2C. Customers have familiarity with Dubai, and we believe that all our customers have the freedom to choose, so they prefer to look directly at our website. On the other hand, there are some who don’t know much about our hotels, so they choose to take advice from some expert or travel agents. We work closely with the travel agents in the Indian market to sell our services and make them reach the maximum number of customers possible.

Q: What is your strategy to target the market?

A: That broadly depends on the type of property we are selling. We have seen mainly three types of consumers: one of them is the global luxury traveler who is particular about choices like suite and villa. So we make sure our travel partners show them our most premium products. After a long period of two years, travellers are looking for long holidays and big spaces for safety purposes and we are very dedicated to our services.

Q: What is your take on expansion?

A: Oh yes, it has been a great time. It all started just before the pandemic. We chose to close one of our iconic hotels in London - a property well known as a luxury property for a long time. It was a time to re-imagine and re-develop ourselves as one of the best hotels in central London. That was the start of our expansion and growth.

We also, post that, made the choice to acquire a legendary iconic hotel on the beautiful island of Capri and then the expansion continued with Jumeirah Maldives in October last year. From there, Bali and then coming back to our home, the Middle East, with Jumeirah Muscat in Oman. We have another opening 6-7 weeks away, Jumeirah Bahrain, and following that, we have some expansion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most preferably Mecca, let’s see.

Q:  What is your strategy for attracting customers of different age groups?

Ans: We have different strategies to cater to the needs of customers coming from all walks of life and age groups. Even through the pandemic, we were continuously working towards improvements. We have different platforms to address the needs of different customers. Some customers prefer more traditional ways of luxury and prefer more personal contact from colleagues and hotels, so we make sure we create a great service experience for them. There are customers who are more tech-savvy and prefer different styles of interactions, so over the years we have developed different technical platforms, where they can chat with our staff to avail any service. Staying in a hotel is just the beginning point of the service; they want to have amazing dining experience, make use of spa facility, some want to see the attractions of the destination. So, these e-platforms allow customers to send their preferences to the staff and hotel and, in return, get their wish-lists prepared accordingly. We have the option of e-menu as well, which is mostly used in pool and beach areas, and the customer gets the service at the spot no matter how far they are.

Q: On what basis do you choose a destination for your hotel projects?

Ans: We always go by the trends, what is happening in the market and what customers want. We have many co-markets and India, of course, being one. So, we observe what customers are wanting to see and after two long years, we also noticed that Dubai was one of the most favourite destinations of tourists.

Q: What is your take on destination weddings?

Ans: Weddings especially in terms of India are mass gatherings and gathering is a big part of our business. A number of hotels have extensive facilities like conference facilities and other places of gathering which as well are for multi-day gathering which is perfect for the Indian customer. As we acquire property, we see many locations which are perfect for this experience. One such example is Jumeirah Muscat in Oman which is a beautiful property on a private beach and that place has confirmed more than three destination weddings in the month ahead. The property of Bahrain is also similar in nature which is coming up in the next few weeks. Life celebrations are a big part of the business and also, as we navigate through the pandemic, we have seen corporate travel restarting and an increasing demand mostly for boutique hotels which have a conference facility as well.

Q: What size of conferences can you hold?

Ans: Jumeirah can hold a large sized gathering of 2,000 attendees to small intimate ones in boutique setting comprising 25-50. Even outside Dubai, Jumeirah properties are capable of holding mass gatherings, be it Abu Dhabi or China or any other Jumeirah property.

Q: When we talk of family, we cannot skip kids. What do you offer to your young customers? Also, India comprises a large number of vegetarians, what all you have to offer them?

Ans: Yes, with a large number of resorts under Jumeirah property in Dubai and also around the world, we make sure that kids are taken care of. We have dedicated kids’ club facility and other activities that they can be a part of. The idea is not just to keep them busy but also well-fed, so we have a dedicated programme called foodie kids where a number of experts show them what is nutritious as well as tasty for them.

Dining facility is one of the most important parts of travel, so we see to it that we provide the most dedicated facility to customers through that. Apart from the facilities within the resort and kids’ club, we have a water park as well and all of our guests have direct access to the water park.

Q: When it comes to sustainability, how responsible is Jumeirah?

Ans: Yes, definitely it is becoming a great topic of discussion between industries and customers. Jumeirah has commendable employees, some of whom we have appointed recently, and some are from a long time. One of the projects we are working on recently is of sea turtles. Sometimes we can have a negative impact on the wildlife around us… in Dubai we have a turtle rehabilitation programme where we have worked with a number of agencies to rescue, rehabilitate and release turtles back in the ocean. Since 2004, we have successfully released more than 2,000 turtles. Along with this, we have an education programme for our customers on taking care of wildlife, and we have a number of other programmes like reducing use of single-use plastic.

Q: How has social media impacted you?

Ans: No one can take away the fact that social media has importance in today’s world. We wanted to make sure that we are on the front of all platforms. We also make sure we have the right content and channel to showcase our true self. We want to engage customers and make sure that we are accessible and put correct information with good management because customers use that information for travel.

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