Carving Out Niche Markets To Attract New Visitors, Key To Sustained Development Of Middle East Tourism Sector
The wealth of family oriented exhibits at Arabian Travel Market this year demonstrated the appeal of the region for both adults and children, and the extension of dedicated accommodation facilities for family groups is a natural progression, claimed a leading hotelier at the show.
Mike Scully, Managing Director of First & Foremost Hotels & Resorts.
Michael Scully, Managing Director of Dubai-based First & Foremost Hotels & Resorts, was addressing delegates during an ATM seminar today which is examining how destinations can boost their appeal to the lucrative family tourism market.
He was explaining how hotel inventory is outpacing occupancy growth in key centres such as Dubai*, and developers seeking a sustainable business model need to target new market segments and a unique selling proposition that can deliver exceptional returns on investment (ROI) in a crowded market place.
Propositions such as the dedicated First & Foremost family resort, which Scully expects to launch with projects in Egypt, Qatar and the UAE, can add a new dimension to the region’s appeal:
“Family tourism is not all about cut-price packages, and by partnering on marketing and reservations with the Leading Family Hotels & Resorts – which already operates 56 family retreats in Europe running at more than 90 per cent occupancy year round – any new family resort here can tap in to that five-star audience of 350,000 established clients, 60 per cent of whom are repeat customers.”
While major hotel chains are keen to expand in the region in what is seen as one of the most vibrant hospitality markets worldwide, Scully said investors were savvy about their options, particularly since the downturn that started in 2008 and decimated revenues and returns for owners.
“By offering a product that has been caters specifically to families – with bedrooms, bathrooms, restaurants, clubs and products all designed for children, plus adults only spa, restaurant, pool and more – we can win year-round business, build loyalty and cut reservations costs while demanding a higher rate than competitor hotels,” he said.
“It’s a proven business case, but comes with an additional element that addresses the current drive to implement CSR and community issues in to the heart of the corporate world.”
First & Foremost has partnered with the Els Foundation and its soon to open Center of Excellence in Florida that provides sports, sensory and biomedical facilities for children with autism.
“While we offer a purely commercial proposition, and will be marketing a tailored family experience, the icing on the cake for investors is the opportunity to give back to the community through offering employment opportunities in the resorts for those on the autism spectrum – numbering around one per cent of the world’s population – as well as eventually providing dedicated rooms to cater to that segment,” said Scully.
“The advantage of the hospitability sector is that we can offer a wide range of employment opportunities from sports and maintenance through to accounts, housekeeping and administration, for instance, with specialised training and supervision for these employees,” he added.
“Investors appreciate the philanthropic element of our new venture, and the opportunity to partner with golf champion Ernie Els through his Els for Autism Center of Excellence is a win-win business venture combining a jobs initiative, CSR and the fostering of a new market segment”
- Figures for March 2015 from hospitality consultants HotStats highlight a drop in average room rates of 5.5 per cent, with a fall in food and beverage revenues contributing to a total decline in total revenues per available room (TRevPAR) of nearly nine per cent.
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