Old property, new approach

Fluckiger: upbeat

AS of October 1, one of Dubai's iconic landmarks changed hands, trading in a 30-year old legacy for what is being billed a newer, fresher approach.

That anyone should wax sentimental about anything 30 years old might seem strange, but when it’s Dubai’s first hotel, the creekside InterContinental that is now being managed by the Radisson SAS, it can justifiably be considered the end of a legacy.
“It isn’t just the management and the logos that will change,” says Andreas Flückiger, general manager at the newly rebranded Radisson SAS Hotel, Deira Dubai Creek.
The property is owned by Dubai-based Galadari Group and is the brand's third hotel in the UAE and there are another three properties under development in the emirates including a hotel on the The Palm, Jumeirah. “We want to bring in a fresh new different approach to build on the existing level of service and further improve it with the fresh SAS ‘Yes, I Can’ approach,”he says.
He admits the process will take time, however, as 30 years under one company’s management has, inevitably, left its mark.
Happily, some things remain the same: the restaurants don’t change their names, nor are the majority of the staff going anywhere. “Basically, the regular guest can expect the same ex-perience initially, but we will eventually offer a better product.”
Rate structures remain the same, for the moment, as the hotel heads into prime season, and Flückiger says the room bookings status for the month ahead is ‘very positive’. The new hotel is being talked up across Rezidor marketing and sales channels, supported by a media campaign, and Flückiger and his team are visiting key agents, tour operators and wholesalers.
While a renovation plan hasn’t been announced, he says one is likely. “Currently the hotel is in very good shape. It’s a bit tired but it could be much worse.”
In terms of challenges ahead, each day is different. “People may not immediately know the hotel bears a new name, and as such may not be able to find it,” he says. “Sometimes, though, it’s purely psychological. A guest could eat the same pasta but feel it tastes totally different.”
Flückiger aims to lay to rest such perceptions by delivering the best possible quality and augmenting service standards, while a visible management policy will resolve customer doubts.
As long as the new InterContinental Dubai Festival City is under construction, the new Radisson is on safe ground – but once that hotel opens next summer, he would necessarily need to work harder for his business. Flückiger takes a confident approach: “Every new hotel that opens will eventually take away some business. Whether the new hotel has one room or 100 rooms, some guests are brand loyal, but others are loyal to the hotel itself and our staff. Unless we give them a very good reason for it, I don’t see a major guest migration.”
The Radisson SAS Dubai Deira Creek has 287 guest-rooms, including 39 suites, 16 food and beverage outlets as well as extensive meeting and events facilities.
by Clark Kelly