The recently appointed cluster general manager of Saudi-based Millennium Al Aqeeq and Millennium Taiba, Jamal Abdulla fills Aleksandra Wood in on his mission for the hotels and the very latest hospitality developments in Saudi Arabia
TTG: What do you look forward to the most in your new capacity as the cluster general manager of Millennium Al Aqeeq and Millennium Taiba?
There are multiple objectives will be focused on in my assignment with the Millennium Hotels in Madinah, especially with the key areas related to driving the overall financial performance and the strategic priorities of both hotels.
Moreover, it is very important to increase the overall guest satisfaction ratios, increase the brand awareness of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels in both Madinah and the KSA, and ensure the hotels’ reputations are at their best within the market place.
TTG: How has the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia changed over the past year? The hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia has extensively changed over the past years and it will continue to change and evolve very dynamically, especially with the 2030 Vision that is driving all the initiatives currently being implemented across the country.
Having said that, it was very important for me and my team to be as flexible and dynamic as possible, to cope with these continuous and rapid changes.
One of the most common challenges we are facing now in Madinah is the regular changes in market trends, which directly impact the pricing, as well as the agreements that we honour with our partners at the beginning of every season.
TTG: How will Millennium Al Aqeeq and Millennium Taiba contribute to the growth of Saudi Arabia’s industry?
I believe that every hotel operating in the Kingdom has a great opportunity to contribute to the growth of the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia, and, talking about our hotels, we are driving multiple initiatives both internally with our teams and externally within the market place, aiming to impact the industry positively, such as, but not limited to, growing talents of our existing team members from the Saudi nationals, in addition to the rest of our team members; applying measures that impact environmental sustainability i.e. water and power consumption, waste management, etc.; and social responsibility towards the local community through some partnerships and activities with the concerned associations.
TTG: What are your aims and expectations for 2018?
I am generally optimistic about the new year, especially with the ambitious plans that have started to roll out across Saudi Arabia, from investing in future mega-developments and resort destinations, to issuing tourist visas later in 2018, which is expected to attract more visitors to the Kingdom.
Speaking of Madinah, and as per the latest market reviews issued recently by key global benchmarking firms, the city was the only market to experience an increase in occupancy levels in 2017, partly due to lack of hotel openings and the increase in visa quotes, which resulted in a 26 per cent increase in numbers of pilgrims overall.
Moving forward in 2018, we are confident we will see a similar performance impacted by the increase in visa quotes as well as growth in the supply of Makkah hotels – including the Jabal Omar project that accommodates a higher number of guests – thus, directly impacting traffic to Madinah.
Q1 of 2018 looks steady with the return of Umrah season, followed by new supply in the market, and we are confident in a good RevPAR performance driven by occupancy increase, which will compensate for the expected decline in ADR YoY.
TTG: Are there any additional projects for Millennium Hotels & Resorts further down the pipeline?
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels have signed several management agreements for new hotels in Madinah, Makkah, Jeddah and Riyadh, which will contribute to the success of the company during 2018 and throughout 2019.