HOTELIER Magazine 2nd issue - English | Page 37

Tell us a little about the Russian market. What kind of changes have taken place? What are the peculiarities of the Russian market that you can distinguish? have been in Russia since 2010; first in Samara, Novosibirsk, then in Georgia for about two years, and then back to Moscow, Russia. The main peculiarity is probably the dynamics of the market, especially the Moscow market. Here you have to think about how to run the hotel when supply and demand are high at the same time. At this point, we have five branded competitor hotels within a radius of one kilometer from our hotel and each of them is “struggling for a piece of cake”. The most important thing in the Moscow market is the revenue management in order to find the right price at the right time. In order to survive in such markets, you need to improve service all the time. The hotel must have a clear sales strategy with differentiation in revenue segmentations. Quality of Food and Beverage is also a key to success. The variety of offered food and beverages should match the hotel concept together with a constant high level of service. The main feature of the Moscow hotel market is continuously growing supplies: since last year, it increased drastically due to the FIFA championship. The demand is also growing, customers are getting more demanding and therefore, the quality of the service becomes critical. I would say that the quality of service is very high in Russia, I mean, in branded hotels in comparison to the local ones. In Georgia, the service is good as well. However, judging from my experience, the service in Armenia is at a very high level. We, Armenians are really hospitable people. At the moment, Courtyard by Marriott brand has a total of 45 Courtyard hotels in Europe. According to the results of the last 6 months, we are in the eighth position in terms of service. Indeed, the older the hotel becomes the more complicated it gets to keep a high level of service. This hotel has been operating since 2011. We are planning to introduce substantial changes this year in order to comply with the new standards. Soon, the hotel will have a newly renovated lobby and a bar. We are delighted to welcome each of our guests. As for challenges, I would say it is very difficult to find a suitable workforce in the Russian market. Finding qualified employees is really challenging. There are cases when we hired people from the Armenian market as there are not many qualified enough candidates here. There are many young people who after graduation are looking for the jobs of managers, they don’t understand that in order to become a manager in such companies, you first need to work hard and gain a lot of experience. What positions are especially difficult to find employees for? t is always hard to find an appropriate employee for specific positions. It is not always possible to get talents inside and then we start to look for them outside. Although Moscow is a huge metropolis with almost 17 mln population, we often face challenges to find qualified people. For example, at this moment, we are looking for a sales associate and we cannot I I find a suitable person for already a month. We cooperate with educational centers as well. Hence, we can take young recruits from there, train them and hire. The general challenge with young employees is that they do not stay for a long period. The reason could probably be globalization or new technologies. It seems that the new generation is not eager to wait…. , they are in a hurry and want to become executives immediately. In Mariott, we have fantastic training plans for all employees which allow them to get online/ offline specific training for their future growth. The company’s philosophy is simple: “Lead with quality, build with credibility,” and it is the one that positively impacts our work and the talent we cultivate. Everything in the hotel industry is about people. One of Mr. Marriott’s favorite sayings, which I often use, is the following: “Take care of your associates, and they will take care of your guests.” The most important thing in this work is a human factor. There are many psychological nuances in the hospitality business with a combination of managerial and leadership skills. You face new challenges, communicate with different people every day who have their own problems. In order to coordinate everything, you should have very strong leadership skills. There is such a concept in Marriott, “the guest’s voice”, the guests receive questionnaires and fill them in. In the very first point, we ask whether they intend to recommend our property to another person. At this point, the result constitutes 73%, which has significantly grown over the past two years. Last year our hotel was the first in Europe by all KPI indicators, such as finances, profit, service, etc. I am always fond of meeting our customers, especially our valuable Marriott Bonvoy members. As of 2019, there are 130 mln active members of Marriott loyalty program and those guests are very important for us. I think the General Manager should be visible for guests and employees all the time. Is it profitable to invest in hotels? otel business as a real estate investment is one of the most long-term ones. If you invest the same amount of money into building a business center, you would get Return of Investment (ROI) faster. However, from my point of view, the hotel business is more valuable in the long-term perspective; its image and constantly growing asset represent a great interest for every investor. I am sure the hotel brand is also very important for a successful hotel. I think, on average, 15-20 years are required to get to ROI. It is also important how hotel management looks after the hotel and takes care of the owner’s assets. The attitude of the staff is very important as well. We explain to everyone: we must treat the hotel as our home; we should take care of it every single day. H