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Ideal affordable desert destination

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Sunaina Rana / Emirates Business

The Tilal Liwa Hotel is located in the heart of the rolling dunes of the UAE. Perched at the edge of the Rub Al Khali desert, conveniently located along the modern Sila highway, 175-kilometre leisurely drive from Abu Dhabi city and Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The unique affordable desert leisure resort is a perfect getaway for frequent travellers. KhaledSharabassy, General Manager, TilalLiwa Hotel, talks to Emirates Business about the hotel’s business strategy for 2016.

The tourism of GCC countries has been growing rapidly. But the
region has carried out diversification of the economy due to fluctuation in oil prices. How has it affected your industry ?
Several factors like currency fluctuations, global political instability, oil prices and the economic situation have impacted the performance levels of the industry in 2015 and I think we will continue facing these challenges this year.
However, our strategy is to improve our position as a unique and affordable desert and leisure destination to reach our target and maintain our luxurious service and facilities to cater to guests’ satisfaction.

What is the percentage of
contribution of the hotel industry in the economy of the nation?
According to data issued by the World Travel Council, total contribution of travel and tourism sector in the UAE’s domestic product amounted to about AED134 billion in 2015, which is 8.7 per cent of GDP and is expected to grow by 4.4 per cent this year. This contribution will rise at a rate of 5.4 per cent annually over the next ten years to reach to AED236.8 billion by 2026.

How do you chalk out the
strategies and future plans for your hotel? What is at the top of your priority list?
Foreseeing the surrounding circumstances and global instability, we have been working hard to create packages that appeal to all target audience including local and
international tourists.
Our focus is to establish 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 the like that all will enjoy, and all-inclusive packages for meeting and conferences with team building activities, meeting facilities with the latest technology, and enticing coffee breaks and banquets.
We came up with a wide range of room packages targeting families who are looking for thrilling desert activities, couples who can bask on a romantic getaway away from the hustle bustle of the city and an all-inclusive treat that covers everything in your mind. Aside from those, we also created packages targeting different sectors like medical professionals, teachers, hoteliers, airliners, oil and gas employees, embassy diplomats and many more.
The Russian market has long
accounted for a large number of visitors to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. To counter the impact of the drop from this market, we are looking to boost arrivals from alive and producing markets like Germans, French, Italians, Scandinavians, Chinese and Indian.

As a General Manager, what are the significant aspects you need to keep in mind at the time of
planning your strategy?
In consideration of the current situation, we have been proactive in analysing the market by working very hard on PNL, increasing revenue opportunities and utilising all available resources. Parallel to this, we are careful in controlling all variable expenses and revisiting fixed cost of the hotel. The major challenge was reaching the right formula of controlling the expenditures while keeping the hotel standards and quality as high as it is to exceed guests’ expectation.

In the coming future, do you have any plans of investing, in regard to new recruitments, perks to the
employees, etc. How do you keep your staff motivated?
We are always walking hand-in-hand with our stakeholders and owners in improving and upgrading our facilities and services.
We do not anticipate or consider freezing the recruitment to be able to provide ourguests with the expected level of standards.
Work with passion is the same song we sing while trying to keep up the momentum with the current situation.
The whole Tilal Liwa Hotel management team is working hard on the floor with the rest of the team to keep the high moral with instant recognition, training, enhancing work atmosphere and team spirit.

What are the additional elements that need to be added to the arrangements of your hotel that can be beneficial in future?
We are continuously improving our facilities and adding more activities our guests can enjoy during their stay. Aside from that, we always keep in mind the budget of the current travellers that is why we always come up with stay packages suitable and affordable for single travelers, couples and families.

What investments had your hotel made to diversify the services and generate revenue?
We are definitely looking forward to the Al Dhafra Festival every year. Being one of the biggest historical and environmental festivals in the country, we are giving much anticipation to this by doing our level best preparations and ensuring that the large number of attendees will get the maximum service quality we can provide.
A new range of activities have been introduced this 2016 dedicated for those desert adventure lovers like new models of quad bikes, camel riding, offshore horseback riding, desert safari, dune bashing, desert cycling, and sand boarding.
Our dining experience has also been improved as we bring in a new kebab restaurant in Al Liwan by the pool area, brand new set of themed nights to suit our guests’ taste in Al Badiya main restaurant and broad range of crazy themed nights in Layali lounge.
In parallel with the latest offerings of our restaurants are the improvement of our room service which includes family kebab feast and because our guests’ comfort is important to us, we also introduced our new pillow menu where they can choose the most suitable one for them.
Guests’ stay wouldn’t be complete without activities so this year we also enhanced the leisure and desert activities, acquired new models of quad bikes, horseback riding off-site, camel ranch visit, renovated our gym with the up-to-date equipment and improved our spa experience.

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Khaled Sharabassy, General Manager, Tilal Liwa Hotel copy

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