‘MENA Awards work as rating tool’

TTN caught up with Dr Sam Saker, President CHA International, to find out more about the MENA awards, set for May 4
Dr Saker with the CHA family

What can we expect from the MENA awards this year?
We’ve already had 25 per cent more enrolment this year as compared to last year.

There has been more participation for the voting process and I am sure we will see more participation at the event itself. This year we are giving away 64 awards, 10 more than last year. The list of categories are the same, but we have more winners in each category.

What’s the objective behind the MENA awards?
The vision behind the MENA awards is: ‘Through team spirit we will attain the total commitment and synergy of our industry to reach the ultimate in performance; we will corroborate professionalism in the Middle East and North African travel industry, and together we will make a true difference.” Our mission is to achieve excellence and eminent endurance in the industry global aspiration.

Does the consumer really benefit from  awards?
The judges behind the MENA awards are consumers who use the product and services offered by the hotels. So it is necessary for hotels to ensure they offer the best service and product quality to get that vote. This become a challenge for the hotels and ensures quality service.

With so many awards being given away, what value does the MENA award hold?
Only our awards are judged by end users,  i.e. guests, customers and trade professionals and not by a panel or committee. It is not possible to expect a panel to get a clear idea of the quality and service levels of every single nominated hotel and vote without bias. Last year the awards received 30,000 votes, this year we have already got 60,000 votes. We believe our awards are of great significance and demand proper measurement.

Has the value of such awards diminished?
Not at all. As a consumer if I walk into a hotel and the awards it has won are displayed in the lobby, I am immediately assured of its level of service. Hotels abroad also follow a certain rating system every year, but since we do not have that in the Middle East, the MENA awards have become a tool for the hotels.

How fool-proof is the voting procedure?
Very, very professional. And it would not be possible without Pricewaterhouse Coopers, our co-partners.  The counting is carried out through specially designed electronic program systems, which is audited, inspected, and evaluated by a team of 12 that looks out for duplicates. These are removed by sorting through name, e-mail and IP address. We also make 15 random phone calls for each category in each hotel to ensure authenticity.