Breaking Travel News interview: Kevork Deldelian, chief executive, Millennium Hotels & Resorts – MEA | Focus
Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa has partnered with Ecolab to deliver guests the highest level of hygiene and cleanliness across all its properties in the region.
With strict measures and world-class health and safety standards already in place, the company is seeking to go beyond conventional cleanliness by providing comprehensive training programs to every staff member.
Here Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole speaks to Kevork Deldelian, chief executive of Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa, about the plans and what the future might hold as the Middle East emerges from the Covid-19 slowdown.
Breaking Travel News: How would you describe the mood in the Middle Eastern hospitality sector at present – most nations are beginning to emerge into the post-Covid 19 world?
Kevork Deldelian: The Middle Eastern hospitality sector has evolved throughout the years to emerge immune against any regional and international crisis.
The United Arab Emirates, in particular, is one of the safest destinations in the world, thus, we are expecting quick recovery for the hospitality sector relying on its diversified services and world-class quality.
We are optimistic and full of trust in the wise leadership of the region.
The preventative measures that were taken have proven to be effective in mitigating the spread of the virus and with the positive response and compliance from the public, we are now able to welcome our guests again to experience their favourite recreational activities.
Breaking Travel News: You have been outlining a plan to reassure guests about the rigorous hygiene standards at Millennium-operated hotels in the region. What can you tell us about that?
KD: We have been always perceived by our guests to operate at the highest level of cleanliness.
Under the large umbrella of our initiative, ‘We clean. We Care. We Welcome.’ we employed a wide range of preventative measures including regular sanitisation of guest rooms.
In addition to a paperless process for check-in and check-out, front-desk screening, touchless transactions, sanitiser stations, social distancing guidelines, reduction of contact points and strict hygiene rules for food and beverage outlets, protective equipment is available to staff and guests at all times.
Guests may also ask for certified safety standards scores achieved at any time upon request.
We also introduced new venues, equipment, tools and technology that help us more to live up to embrace the new norms and bring it on board.
We all revised all our Standard Operating Procedures bringing in new methods and process in our day to day operation.
Uplifting its commitment towards guests, Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa has partnered with Ecolab, one of the most renowned companies in water, hygiene and infection prevention internationally, to deliver the highest level of cleanliness across all its properties in the region.
Through this collaboration, we have launched new venues, used new innovative tools, and adopted new technologies that will help us embrace the new norms and bring it on board.
As we speak all our standard operating procedures have been reviewed bringing in new methods and process in our day to day operation.
With strict measures and world-class health and safety standards already in place, we went beyond conventional cleanliness by providing comprehensive training programs to every staff member.
BTN: How do you think guest expectations will change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?
KD: Our services will run better than usual in compliance with the prevailing guidelines issued by concerned authorities.
Our guests deserve the best and should expect no less from us.
We will continue to provide the finest guest experience while ensuring the highest safety and cleanliness standards.
The changes we have delicately adopted come to offer an unprecedented safety and hygiene standards without compromising on our valuable guests’ experience.
BTN: What methods are you using to encourage guests to travel – for example, loosening booking restrictions or extending loyalty benefits?
KD: From the first day of the pandemic, we have introduced several measures to help our guests including waiving cancelation fees, flexibility in check-in and check-out, hosting stranded passengers, and supporting concerned authorities in each country throughout the region in fighting against the pandemic.
Staycations and domestic tourism need to top the priorities’ list of any leading hospitality provider.
It’s no secret that tourism is a seasonal industry by nature, so Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa will continue to focus on domestic guests by introducing specialised packages.
Our properties under various brands echo a deep understanding of what domestic tourists seek.
With a diversified portfolio, Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa covers a wide range of tourists’ segments through its creative brands such as Grand Millennium, Millennium Place, Studio M and Millennium Central.
Each brand provides its guests with unique experience starting from in-house recreational activities to nearby attractions.
We have introduced an offer which runs until December 31st.
Offering up to 20 per cent discount on Flexible Rate, members of My Millennium loyalty programme availed additional discount on their stays up to 15 per cent off and 2,000 bonus points.
Moreover, guests are eligible to up to 20 per cent off on dining, early check-in and late check-out until 18:00.
Subject to availability, the offer was valid for bookings via the official online portals of Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa.
BTN: A consensus is emerging that business travel will be slower to return than leisure trips – has this been bourne out by your experience to date?
KD: The indications reflect quick recapture for domestic leisure markets.
We are expecting a healthy and swift recovery for international travel to come in synchronise with the easing of preventative measures in every region.
Mega events are to be held next year and key business players will rush to book their seats in the frontline to secure their market share and business recovery.
BTN: How is Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa able to support hotel owners during this period?
KD: Millennium Hotels – Middle East & Africa is the operator with the least hotels being closed and the main reason is our tight ship style of operation, which has always been based on driving our Hotels with efficiency to, which in this situation caused a much lower impact on the cash flow and allowed our hotels to persevere.
We introduced a relief plan to our respective owners filled with measures and initiatives to ensure sustaining the business and protect the bottom-line
Millennium Hotels & Resorts – Middle East & Africa currently operates 45 hotels with almost 15,000 keys in addition to 32 hotels in the pipeline across the region.
From a single property in Abu Dhabi, the company has expanded into various neighbouring destinations and is now recognised as one of the fastest-growing regional hotel management companies in the region.