Dan Benzaquen Dan Benzaquen

Q & A with Dan Benzaquen, General Manager, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE POSITIVE MOMENTUM IN JORDAN’S TOURISM INDUSTRY, HOTELIERS ARE PAYING HIGHER ATTENTION TO MICE TRAVELLERS.

DAN BENZAQUEN, GENERAL MANAGER, MÖVENPICK RESORT & SPA TALA BAY AQABA, EXPLAINS HOW A LEISURE RESORT IS ABLE TO CATER FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: With the rising importance of the business travel segment for Jordan tourism, how is your property positioned to cater for the niche?

DAN BENZAQUEN: Business travellers are an important market source for Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba.

Whilst we are known to be a leisure resort, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba is also a preferred choice within the corporate sector – whether as a temporary home-base or for holding corporate events.

Both leisure and business facilities are available in the resort.

For business travellers seeking venues to hold meetings and conferences, we can accommodate up to 300 people in our ballroom.

We also offer alternative options outdoors, which feature lush gardens, an amphitheatre and the beach.

The most number of guests we accommodated in our garden was 900 people on banquet-style seating for an incentive dinner hosted by a corporate client.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How would you summarise the first quarter (Q1) of this year in relation to the business segment and what are the projections for upcoming months?

DAN BENZAQUEN: Q1 was a little challenging but April’s performance was fantastic, which closes the gap with our rolling budget.

[...] We had several corporate meetings during the previous months and most of the corporate guests came back with their families for a leisure stay.

It is good to know that these clients thought of Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba even beyond their work.

The coming months look healthy, except [...] the winter season. Historically, [this period is] challenging for properties based in Aqaba.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Given the resort’s reputation as a leisure destination, what facilities and features of the property would you highlight to business travellers?

DAN BENZAQUEN: What makes the resort unique and ideal [for the segment] is that MICE travellers can choose to have their functions either indoor or outdoor depending on the number of attendees and purpose of event.

For instance, our ballroom, which can accommodate 300 people, can be your venue in the morning with our Salam meeting room and several restaurant outlets serving as breakout rooms.

At night, our pool, garden or beach areas can be your venue for your corporate dinner.

We have a beautiful resort area and we are offering that to MICE travellers, too.

Onsite, a dedicated meetings and events team will make sure that you are attended well. State-of-the-art information technology equipment cluding Wi-Fi connection in the entire resort and WhatsApp services are available for all the guests. [...]

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the most common expectations of the MICE guests when staying at the resort? Do your guests mix business with leisure activities?

DAN BENZAQUEN: Connectivity is very important for MICE travellers.

Not only do they require good Internet connection during their functions, most corporate travellers also work in their rooms after the meeting.

Catering and service should be efficient, as well. It is good to have some surprises but the very basic clients’ requirements should be met.

Currently, corporate clients are mixing business with leisure.

Most corporate function requests include the weekends as their preferred period of stay. In that manner, they engage in leisure activities after conducting their business agenda.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the latest common efforts in the public and private sectors to promote Jordan and Aqaba as an ideal MICE destination?

DAN BENZAQUEN: The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) and Aqaba Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) work closely with airlines and resorts to come up with reasonable prices to attract guests. This makes Aqaba competitive not only for leisure guests, but also for corporate clients coming from abroad.

As part of Aqaba, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba highly supports such initiatives. Likewise, we always make sure that the resort is represented well in travel trades. [...].

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How do you foresee the development of the business tourism in Jordan and the position of Aqaba in the months to come?

DAN BENZAQUEN: We see growth of business tourism in Jordan in general and Aqaba in particular.

With more international hotel brands opening soon, more international direct flights available and more frequent flights from Amman, Aqaba is becoming a more established tourism hub. Being the only open seaport, Aqaba not only houses some big companies in Jordan, but also provides better accessibility, hence more opportunities for business tourism to boom. [...].