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Charlie Taylor Charlie Taylor

Q & A with Charlie Taylor, Group Director, Brand Communications, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts

WITH DUBAI DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND COMMERCE MARKETING (DTCM) HAVING IDENTIFIED INCREASING THE NUMBER OF REPEAT VISITS AS ONE OF THE THREE CORNERSTONES IN ITS VISION 2020, CHARLIE TAYLOR, GROUP DIRECTOR, JUMEIRAH HOTELS & RESORTS, EXPLAINS HOW THE GROUP IS CONTRIBUTING TO ACHIEVING THIS MILESTONE.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How successful has the first half (H1) of the year been and where does the success derive from?

CHARLIE TAYLOR: Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts in Dubai experienced a 19 percent increase in room nights year-on-year from January-June. Visa rules have been relaxed for a number of countries so this year we have been working hard to deliver the ease of access message. Russian travellers can now obtain a visa on arrival and Indian visa rules were also relaxed, enabling Indian passport holders, with an American visa or Green Card, to obtain a visa on arrival into the UAE. India is now Dubai’s biggest source market and we believe there is potential for growth for more guests from the country in our hotels in the city. [...]. We are expecting 15-25 percent growth over the next year from the Indian market.

China saw visa on arrival changes in 2016 and the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has always been popular for Chinese guests [...]. In light of the visa changes, we have increased awareness of our other hotels to the Chinese market as we see potential growth for most of our Dubai hotels from China, especially with enhanced brand awareness of Jumeirah with the upcoming opening of our second hotel in China – Jumeirah Nanjing.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: DTCM identified increasing the number of repeat visits as one of three key objectives in its Tourism Vision 2020. What is the group doing to support Dubai Tourism’s objective of attracting repeat visitors?

CHARLIE TAYLOR: We work closely with DTCM on joint initiatives, tactical activations and destination marketing, and as a home-grown brand, our position within the destination is key. Our strong partnerships with travel trade partners is proving highly beneficial and we continually look at ways we can further enhance our relationships with both high-end luxury travel agents and retail partners. The work DTCM has done to deliver strong messages regarding the breadth of destination offering that Dubai now has, is commendable and this is key to both ensuring that once visitors come once, they come again, and to extending length of stay. We have a similar aim and are continually looking at our own offerings.

One example is that over the past two years, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has seen a significant transformation in its guest experiences, including the creation of Burj Al Arab Terrace, the opening of Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara and the opening of Gold on 27, and these additions ensure that it retains its appeal to the GCC and key markets and its status as one of the world’s most luxurious hotel. Another example is the current renovation work taking place at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. In terms of specific examples of supporting DTCM, we have recently collaborated with Russian and Chinese campaigns [...] to drive guests into Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah. We will also be supporting DTCM’s new Winter Sun campaign with Jumeirah Al Naseem and we supported the Stay Sunny campaign which targeted Europe [...].

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the demographics of travellers who have previously visited Dubai and what are their expectations?

CHARLIE TAYLOR: The home markets of the UAE and the Gulf region are critical along with our key source markets such as the UK which continues to be one of our top source markets. Our UK guests do not necessarily look for cheap holidays but they do look for value for money so we ensure the experience they receive is superior and seen as money well spent. Our Jumeirah Flavours and Suite Sensations both offer great value. Due to the impact of Brexit and the impact on the sterling, we were expecting a decline from the UK market, but to date this has not been as sizable as expected. We are focusing on protecting this market via strong partnerships and cooperative marketing with travel trade partners.

Russia and Germany have traditionally been strong markets for our Dubai hotels. Thanks in part to the work we put in to delivering the message that the changes to visa regulation really did make a visit to Dubai logistically very simple, from May-July we saw a 31 percent increase in room nights from Russia. Business from Germany has also been good – the H1 of the year saw a 19 percent increase in room nights.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are the group’s priorities going forward?

CHARLIE TAYLOR: [...] Dubai needs to continue to develop to accommodate the demand. In line with this, Jumeirah Group has a strong and robust pipeline of hotels planned, with an existing portfolio of more than 5,500 rooms across 20 properties in nine destinations. Future openings will include luxury hotels in the UAE, Indonesia, China, Oman, Jordan, Malaysia and the Saudi Arabia.

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