TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The recent drop in oil prices has led to a decline in corporate business demand. How much has this trend affected Abu Dhabi and the hotel? Are you now focussing more on the leisure segment?
SANJAY KUMAR: Both factors have impacted the business flow significantly and to improve the hotel’s position in the market, we have come up with special packages and promotions to attract local and international leisure markets alike.
We now focus on establishing Tilal Liwa Hotel as an ideal affordable desert destination for frequent individual travellers and leisure groups by introducing packages complete with romantic arrangements, desert activities like quad biking, dune bashing and [similar options] that all will enjoy, as well as all-inclusive packages for meetings and conferences with team building activities, meeting facilities boasting the latest technology, and enticing coffee breaks and banquets.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Would you promote a 50/50 distribution of corporate and leisure guests at the property? What are the advantages of each segment?
SANJAY KUMAR: The distribution always depends on the market demand. Having corporate guests always has the most advantages as this is an effective way of building good business relationships locally and helps spread brand awareness in the country.
Leisure guests on the other hand are good for promoting the hotel abroad.
As the capital and the biggest emirate of the UAE, Abu Dhabi homes the most unforgettable variety of experiences.
Travellers can enjoy the serenity of the sunrise in the desert, be one with the nature, enjoy extravagant hotels and restaurants, up their adrenaline levels in theme parks, become familiar with the local Emirati culture, or simply take pleasure in walking by the bay watching the sunset.
In Abu Dhabi, there is always a lot more to do, making it a really good leisure destination. The UAE as a destination has [received Hotelnumerous distinctions] showing how brilliant the result can be when mind, passion and effort are put together.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Several attractions are coming up on Saadiyat Island and many more are already on offer on Yas Island. Could these projects signal a shift towards leisure tourism?
SANJAY KUMAR: These attractions are definitely to balance out the losses we are having from the corporate segment, however, [it does not mean a complete] shift towards leisure.
I believe it is just a phase and the country will eventually stand up from the current situation.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: With a number of luxury hotels coming up, is Abu Dhabi moving away from its business-oriented image towards a more high-end focussed offering?
SANJAY KUMAR: The emirate will always be a business destination but I am very positive that these luxury hotels and resorts will just add to the ever-growing luxury and leisure destinations of the UAE, giving us a good position in the market.