How the chained performed in the Middle East: We performed extremely well and had an outstanding year even though it didn’t start as well as we might ave hoped, says Steve Davino, vice-president of international sales and marketing for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
Due to the political situation that arose in the region, our hotel business was heavily affected. Doha was the exception surpassing all expectations as the headquarters for most of the international press. Dubai, Bahrain and Sharm El Sheikh felt the impact a lot more as the leisure market ceased to travel to the Middle East.
Strategy adopted to face up to the downturn in global economy: A very swift response into contingency was the most effective practice at such a time. We did not cut expenses but improved upon our efficiencies. We took the opportunity to give employees some time off, though strictly nobody lost their jobs. As business came back we adjusted our hotels once again to cater to full hotels.
Did things go according to plan? I believe that because we acted quickly and anticipated changes before they came, things went as hoped. Our strategies were excellent. We maintained regular lines of communication with our corporate office and with our owning companies throughout the region who were tremendously supportive.
Expansion plans: Due to our strength and success in the current locations we occupy, we do receive a lot of requests to manage hotels. We are eager to grow in the Middle East and would be very happy to have a hotel in Cairo and perhaps a city location in Dubai amongst other destinations. The second quarter of this year will see the opening of yet another superior product, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Villas.
Strategy in the face of competition: The one element of service that always sets The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company aside from all others are our Gold Standards. The philosophy that is adopted by all our ladies and gentlemen, our continuous commitment to quality and achievements in performance excellence are the foundation of our success.
Is The Ritz-Carlton bullish about 2004 and, if yes, why? A look at the current performance of each of our hotels dictates that we are most positive about 2004. We are blessed to be operating in destinations of such tremendous growth and development, though as a company we are alert to the volatile nature of the region. Our customers are sensitive to current affairs, so we continue to exercise stringent precautions.
What guests can look forward to: We will continue the momentum of innovation and success that The Ritz-Carlton hotels have demonstrated until now.