Luxury hotel group pushing into Africa

Ulrich Eckhardt, Kempinski president Middle East and Africa, speaks to SHALU CHANDRAN about Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group’s properties and expansion plans
An artist’s impression of the poolside at Kempinski Accra

How successful has ATM been for you over the years?
ATM is the most important travel trade event in the region and goes a long way towards establishing new contacts and strengthening existing ties with industry operators.

Every year we sign a multitude of deals during ATM in addition to increasing awareness of upcoming resorts both within the region and internationally.

What are your plans / announcements at ATM 2008?
As the Middle East and Africa is one of the groups most actively progressive regions in terms of expansion, rest assured there will be some exciting new projects and announcements made during ATM, largely revolving around our continued push into Africa and ongoing projects of innovation.

Who are you targeting at the show?
As is usually the case we are looking to attract new source markets for our properties across MEA through direct negotiations with tour operators, agents and airlines in addition to our rapidly growing network via the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA).

What is your main objective at ATM 2008, and how will you achieve this?
As always ATM is a prime opportunity to meet the key players, partners and new operators from in and around the region, this is particularly important for the international properties looking to attract business from the Middle East. As there are myriad of participants from across all sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality markets, it is also a great chance to discover the latest trends and developments that are emerging. We will accomplish this with a strong presence at our ATM stand with over 16 hotels, our exclusive inaugural ATM party and our press conference. We also have representation at destination stands such at Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Jordan Tourism Board and with this, each year our exposure widens.

What are the major industry issues that events like ATM must focus on?
The building spotlight is on the significance of ‘green’ hotels, and changing currencies from USD to EURO. The increasing market demand for four star hotels, implementing CSR programmes, and issues related to carbon footprint, energy consumption and global warming.