Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah, an exhibitor at ITB since 2009, says its focus at the show has always been on discovering market niches, judging and analysing the market situation, distinguishing new trends and strategising on how to benefit from it.
'This platform endows us with an opportunity to meet new people and strengthen relationship with the existing ones, hence, expanding the sales network,' says Kamal Rijhwani, executive assistant manager in charge of sales and marketing.Rijhwani says 2015 was definitely not good for the hospitality industry due to the challenges within traditional source markets and macroeconomic factors. The fall in oil prices and the euro, the ruble’s devaluation and an unstable Chinese economy towards the end of the year, impacted overall occupancy and spend. All these factors led to UAE being seen as an expensive destination and resulted in tourists choosing other countries, he says.
Rijhwani ... Mice place major role
However, Sharjah resort did well throughout the year with Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) business playing a major role in maximising returns (from its 10 meeting rooms and two ballrooms), he says.The hotel also benefited from an influx of CIS and Eastern Europe travellers towards the end of the year, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Egypt.Rijhwani warns that 2016 will be 'full of challenges' with pressure from oversupply of hotels in addition macroeconomic, geopolitical and currency fluctuation factors.'However, we have seen demand from new source markets from countries in East Europe and Asia, especially from China and India which is a positive development,' he says, adding that the Sharjah-based Air Arabia plans to extend its network in these regions.'Also, family tourism has been on the rise in Sharjah and our hotel has a reputation for being family friendly. The main challenge in these tough conditions is to see how we can grow our business from untapped markets,' Rijhwani says.The hotel will now focus on winning more Mice business from the GCC and Asia, especially India. 'We expect the growth of the sector to be driven by initiatives taken by the government such as the expansion Air Arabia’s routes,' he says.In addition, efforts will be made to woo leisure travellers from across the Middle Eastern, eastern and northern Europe, India and China.'At ITB, we will focus on our core competencies,' Rijhwani says, adding that the property will 'strive to deliver the best to counter increasing competition'.