In Conversation with Hani Akkari, the General Manager Alwadi Doha – MGallery Hotel Collection
By Leslie Fernandez
While restaurants and hotels across the world have been struggling to survive in the business due to pandemic, Alwadi Doha has reported having the strongest sales this financial year.
Yes, you read that right! Since the hospitality industry in the Middle East has been hit hardest with the Pandemic, Alwadi Doha has been seeing almost full capacity, even in the apparent low season.
Located in the heart of Doha Msheireb downtown district facing Souq Waqif, Alwadi Doha is a 5-star boutique hotel equally rooted in tradition and progression Qatari and global cultures. Due to its accessible locations, the hotel caters to its business tourists and travel enthusiasts to the nearby attractions and has five restaurants and stunning interior art –thanks to the hotel’s outstanding management providing satisfaction on all corners.
Earlier in 2020, I visited the hotel before COVID-19 struck. Since then, I have found a huge shift, and many things have changed. The only thing that remained is the multitude of travelers and staycation enthusiasts.
Curious to know about the successful post-COVID operations and keeping the sales throughout, I sat down with the Alwadi Doha Hotel’s General Manager, Hani Akkari, and discussed his winning strategies, plans for the upcoming future, FIFA World CUP 2022, and what he has been doing to ensure the safety of his business and employees this year.
Bringing Strongest Sales Year Post Pandemic: Check Out the Winning Strategy of Hani Akkari, the General Manager Alwadi Doha
How Alwadi Doha battled COVID-19?
This unprecedented situation created many unknowns, especially regarding the re-opening and continuation of operations per usual. That being said, we needed to remain positive as we continued to learn and adjust to the current situation.
This experience has proved that our hotel and our Dream Makers can handle more than we ever thought possible. When our facilities began to re-open and return to their lively capacities, we ensure to bring along all of the insight, knowledge, and resilience you have gained throughout this experience as you move forward in your operations.
Being the General Manager, how has the rhythm or routine of your day changed post-Covid?
Like many under this crisis, I had to be alerted, concerned and at the same time, I felt motivated and optimistic about the opportunities and challenges we faced.
Covid-19 has upended all the usual routines in our lives and work. However, one important thing this pandemic has taught us not to take anything for granted – both personally and professionally. I find myself most curious about the long-term effects that Covid-19 will have on our lives.
Have strategies changed because of the Coronavirus? Have you noticed any change in consumer habits?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually all aspects of our lives. Some developments have been sudden and involuntary, such as social distancing, wearing masks, stopping public transport, and travel restrictions. We had taken serious steps to mitigate risks and maintain our hotel operation and business base.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you are facing to improve the guest experience today?
Guest experience is one of the most critical factors affecting positive customer behavior, such as loyalty and personal recommendation. In the hospitality industry, customer satisfaction can provide hotels with significant competitive advantages, directly leading to increase in profitability and growth.
You have always cultivated a kind of modesty –both personally and regarding the group – is this your strength and the strategy to build organic growth?
In these times, it is essential to motivate, step back, and trust others. It is less about the virtue of modesty but more about the ability to recognize that my team, “Heartists”, would follow through with their responsibilities. In my career so far, I can say with confidence we achieve and earn much more by getting others to work effectively rather than any level of individual ability.
Being an Eco-certified brand and an active member of Qatar Green Building Council, what initiatives have Alwadi Doha has taken to upgrade the environment-friendly practice, especially for the year 2022?
At Alwadi Doha, we are committed to following environment-friendly practices in everything. While being a chief supporter of Qatar’s sustainability goals and being a strong ally of the Qatar National Vision 2030 –we take it as our fundamental responsibility to bring and follow the latest environment-friendly hospitality practice.
That’s why we maintain the same values at Msheireb Downtown Doha and thus, have become the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project.
Earning the Green Key is a proof of our management’s efforts of developing an eco-friendly, sustainable, and reliable business. Such as, using local organic products, providing electrical vehicle charging stations, and other recyclable solutions.
You have always had a strong single-brand policy, are you still thinking to keep it that way or extending your brand’s name by bringing multiple businesses under your umbrella?
Being under Accor Group, we can see that the company is already bringing more brands to the market under the same umbrella, from Luxury, to premium, passing through midscale and economy brands. In the near future, an astonishing number of at least 12 hotels are forecasted to be in the pipeline of Doha market with a strong positioning among the other international hospitality group.
What labor reforms your hotel has implemented after COVID?
We implemented measures predominantly focused on hygiene to reassure that the well-being of our team and all our guests are our highest priority. Additional protocols, health and safety precautions have been implemented following our international hygiene/safety program ALLSAFE and the local measures through Qatar Clean certifications.
With the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar Tourism continues its mission to turn the country into a world-class destination. How Alwadi Doha is contributing to making Doha a mega Gulf metropolis and transit hub of the region?
Qatar has allocated a massive amount on infrastructure projects ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and expects to see a steady increase in tourist numbers in the run-up to the event.
At Alwadi Doha, we aligned our marketing plan with the country’s tourism strategy to make sure we maximize our fair market share and be a major and solid player in a booming market in 2022.
Regarding the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, what upcoming events are in pipeline for the hospitality industry?
Qatar Government is taking many initiatives to promote sport events, with the Arab World Cup scheduled in December 2021 and the recent announcement of Formula 1 by the end of November.
Qatar calendar 2021-22 is full of vibrant events with the upcoming tourism and festivals occasions. This would surely help in creating multiple opportunities in the country’s tourism sector. Ultimately, this will also be going to add more value to the Qatar’s hospitality industry in general and precisely to Alwadi Doha.
As the industry leader in private and commercial hospitality programs for major sports events, do Alwadi Doha is offering any exclusive packages for sports tourists?
Alwadi Doha always supports and goes in line with Qatar National Tourism Council’s vision by creating promotions that suit the country’s needs to be a sports tourism destination. From rooms, spa, and food and beverages promotions.
Becoming one of the best hotels in Doha, Alwadi Doha is surely making its mark on the Qatar’s hospitality industry. We’d like to know the winning strategies you’ve created as the General Manager that made par to this success?
The success of our hotel would have not been without a clear vision, a solid mission that was done with desire, hard work, commitment, and perseverance.
With the support of my team, we exceeded expectations by becoming one of the renowned hotels in Doha, and we believe that the best is yet to be written…
What can we look forward to for Alwadi Doha? What remains to be accomplished?
Each boutique hotel in the MGallery collection tells a unique story, inviting guests to immerse themselves in tales of adventure, romance, history, culture, nature, and more for the length of a memorable stay.
Our hotel goes beyond the furnishing and environment. Our valued guests get to have a unique experience fully inspired by authentic yet modern Qatari Hospitality.
About Alwadi Doha
Alwadi Doha is the first MGallery Hotel Collection boutique hotel in Qatar where the “art de recevoir” embraces authentic local experiences and enhances memorable moments in a charming yet luxurious setting. The new 5-star boutique hotel offers spacious luxurious rooms and suites, sumptuous restaurants and exceptional bars, a high-end equipped gym, refreshing pool and soothing spa. Immerse yourself in the essence of Qatari Hospitality and discover cultured blend of Qatari heritage and contemporary design creating endless Memorable Moments. A centuries-old market, iconic Souq Waqif, lies adjacent to the hotel and is easily accessible via a pedestrian underpass.
Accor is a world leading hospitality Group consisting of more than 5,100 properties and 10,000 food and beverage venues throughout 110 countries. The Group has one of the industry’s most diverse and fully integrated hospitality ecosystems encompassing luxury and premium brands, midscale and economy offerings, unique Lifestyle concepts, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor also boasts an unrivalled portfolio of distinctive brands and approximately 260,000 team members worldwide. Over 68 million members benefit from the company’s comprehensive loyalty program ALL – Accor Live Limitless – a daily Lifestyle companion that provides access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences. Through its Planet 21 – Acting Here, Accor Solidarity, RiiSE and ALL Heartist Fund initiatives, the group is focused on driving positive action through business ethics, responsible tourism, environmental sustainability, community engagement, diversity and inclusivity.
Photography: Shadira Photography