The Business Year

Panos Panagis

OMAN - Tourism

Panos Panagis

General Manager, Hormuz Grand Muscat

Bio

Panos Panagis is the General Manager of Hormuz Grand Muscat, a Radisson Collection Hotel, and the District Director of Radisson Hotel Group in Oman. He previously managed the group’s Radisson Blu Hotel in Bahrain for six years. He has over 30 years’ experience from previous assignments in Switzerland, UK, Germany, and Nigeria, where he managed one of Africa’s largest hotels and convention center and opened several new hotels. Since his arrival in Oman, Panos led his team to secure several awards for the Radisson Hotel Group’s hotels, including the awards for the Luxury Hotel in Oman by World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2017. He began his career at the Savoy Group of Hotels in London, after graduating from the Swiss Hospitality School Les Roches. He also completed a master’s degree in international hotel management at the University of Surrey.

With a heavy focus on quality and creating the best experiences for guests, Hormuz Grand Muscat seeks to build loyalty and remain the first choice for guests.

What role does the hotel play in the Radisson Hotel Group portfolio and in Oman’s hospitality sector?

Radisson Collection as the name would imply is the luxury brand of the group. In Oman, we have currently only Hormuz Grand Muscat part of the Radisson Collection. We also have four additional hotels located in Muscat, Sohar, and Duqm. The hospitality sector supply in Oman has more than doubled in the last few years, with many hotels opening across the country. This growth is driven by the government’s approach to reaching the tourism industry objectives for Vision 2040 of the Sultanate. Radisson Collection remains an attractive proposition for both the business and leisure market. The group is growing in Oman, with additional hotels in the pipeline in different locations in the country assisting in reaching the goals of Vision 2040.

You want to be seen as a haven for foodies. Is the foodie culture growing in popularity in the country and what can Oman offer to foodies?

Guests in Oman are very knowledgeable and discerning when it comes to food and beverage experiences. In order to be able to attract guests, the offering has to be based on the needs and localization of dishes that have a contemporary feel. Nowadays, menu design has to be based on a guest’s needs and localization of dishes that have a contemporary feel. This goes hand in hand with the Omani specialties that are hundreds of years in the making. Doing Omani dishes that satisfy guests is a focus of our kitchen team that always strives for excellence.

What are some key characteristics of the Omani hospitality industry that a GM should be aware of in order for their hotel to be successful here?

When you look at hotel management, the fundamentals are the same all over the world, with only fractional variations of what is important in a country. In Oman, you need to have a passionate relentless approach to quality as this is the only way to build loyalty with the guests. Only by creating an experience through any interaction with the guests will your hotel be successful. Going the extra mile to create a memorable experience is the key.

What key elements should the government and the private sector work on to give the tourism industry an extra push?

The government of Oman and the private sector have always worked hand in hand to improve tourism in the country. We, at Radisson Hotel Group, have a corporate responsibility to develop the skills of the people in the country to create a local trained and dynamic workforce. The pandemic has changed the nature of this cooperation. However, this is only temporary until all source countries wishing to visit Oman open their borders including travel agencies for outbound tourism. The focus then should remain on charismatic Omani hospitality and the combination of tradition and modernity to attract the luxury segment back into the country.

What are your main objectives for 2021/2022 and how do you plan to achieve them?

We want to prepare for the end of the lockdown and capture the demand that will follow. We expect demand to be substantially increased whenever the lockdown ends as people are now ready to carry on with their lives and do business forgetting the past two years. For the industry to grow, we need to evaluate our business model and ensure that experiences remain the main attraction. We are in the process of enhancing the technology functionality in our hotels that will enable us to focus only on the guests through our team who will be fully equipped to meet their expectations. Domestically, for the next year, we just need to get much better at what we do to stay in the game. We have to be spot on and provide exceptional service.

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