The Business Year

Hany Ghanem

QATAR - Tourism

4,200 Hotels Worldwide

General Manager, The Best Western Plus Doha

Bio

Originating from Egypt, Hany has a wealth of experience spanning over 14 years in the hospitality industry. He started his career with Sheraton El Gouna in 2005 then he moved to Sheraton Doha and St Regis Doha,Hany held different  posts in FO, Revenue, Human Resources and Sales in luxury five-star properties across the GCC.  in addition he was an organizing committee member for The World championship for cycling 2016, being the head of Accommodation. He Joined Best Western on Feb 2017 as Director of Operations them promoted to General Manager.

“Locally we will focus on corporate accounts, and as we approach the World Cup there will be an increasing number of events and visitors.“

How has the Best Western brand developed in the Qatari market?

Best Western is one of the leading franchise businesses worldwide with over 4,200 hotels in operation. We have around eleven hotels in the GCC, with one in Doha. We are well known for affordable prices, which is what makes Best Western unique. Our hotel is owned by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Abdul Aziz Bin Mohamed Bin Jabr Al Thani. Owning a hotel is part of his contribution to investment in the hospitality industry, which he believes merits support as a highly promising sector. Having an international chain attracts loyalty because most customers nowadays are looking for a hotel where they can have a loyalty program, or get points and stay anywhere in the world. Our hotel has helped us gain a good positioning in the market, as we are located very close to Souq Waqif at less than a 5 minute walking, as well as a 3 minute walk from the Corniche and under 15 minutes from the airport by car. This was an added value for the hotel, and we were able to cooperate with Qatar Airways and host layover customers at the premises. We are close to the business area, and so enjoy a good base of corporate customers.

How would you assess the impact of the blockade on the tourism sector of Qatar, and the country’s recent initiatives to attract more visitors?

I would say that now we have recovered notably since the blockade of June 2017. It had a major impact at the time, being a sudden decision, and we had to rethink our means of retaining revenue to keep our hotel operating. We were struggling in 2017, but during 2018 after the recovery made through the efforts of the government and hotel management of the sector we are back on the right track. The focus today is not only on rooms, as people have started to think of the Food and Beverage (F&B) business. The government started to find ways to attract different markets beyond the GCC and is seeking to compensate it in the long term. It opened the visa on arrival for 80 countries, and is keen to attract the Chinese, Indian and Russian markets. The rethink has also seen the transition of the Qatar Tourism Authority into the National Tourism Council. We support all initiative of the Council, and when talk moved to the Chinese market for example, we were among the first hotels to address that market, becoming certified to accommodate Chinese visitors. In the hiring process, we have ensured that we have employees trained in many languages including Chinese, Indian, and Russian.

What plans do you have for the 2022 World Cup?

We are in regular contact with the Supreme Council for Delivery and Legacy, and we have no doubt that we will be fully booked during the world cup time however for sure . For sure we are expecting advance teams and events for preparation of the World Cup and are ready for this. Whatever is required of our side will be provided. Those in charge of the hospitality sector are doing very well with the preparations. Last year they opened the Qatar National Library and in 2019 the Qatar National Museum will be opened, as will new malls. They are trying to provide attractions that impact guests and travelers on their first to visit Qatar. It is all about sustainability of tourism and its substantial new facilities beyond just one month of World Cup 2022. What happens afterwards is the big question. I would say that the strategy for Qatar is encouraging as it has already encompassed many sporting events such as the gymnastics in 2018, cycling in 2016 (which I was honored to be one of the organized committee members) and handball championships in 2015. Meanwhile, the conference tourism sector is also being developed.

For 2019 what are the priorities for the hotel?

Best Western is keen to attract the expatriate business. In 2018, for example, We were the official hotel for Nepal Idol 2017 and The Voice Nepal 2018, where we hosted the entire crew, celebrities and contestants for those two mega events that happen for the first time outside Nepal, In addition we are keen to have a variety of service offered which is suitable for different nationalities, for example we have an Irish pub, a Chinese restaurant, and a newly opened Filipino Restaurant, we sponsored as well, the Pakistani main event for National Day, additionally We are very close to the Philippine community and received an award from a well-known social media platform for Filipinos as the Best Filipino Preferred Hotel. This is a standard we must maintain in 2019. We will continue our efforts to tap diverse markets, such as the Chinese and Russians, and are in contact with certain agencies in China. I hope that the Iranian market becomes open, too, as it is a huge market of well-traveled people. Locally we will focus on corporate accounts, and as we approach the World Cup there will be an increasing number of events and visitors.

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