Haitham Galal, EAM, Roda Al Bustan Hotel. Haitham Galal, EAM, Roda Al Bustan Hotel.

What attracted you to the hospitality industry?

I love hospitality as it’s fun and enjoyable, challenging, and committed. It opens doors of communication by meeting different people of diverse cultures, and when we exceed guest expectations it means a lot to me and my team.

How different is your current role from the earlier one?

My present role is very different from the previous positions I held; it’s a 360-degree shift. My previous role was focused on maximising revenue, ensuring guest satisfaction as well as staff satisfaction, and controlling expenses. This was all done in one department, the front office. Whereas my present role is managing the overall operations of the hotel including front office, recreation, housekeeping, security, and revenue management.

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What’s your strategy when it comes to running a hotel to ensure smooth operations?

Well, as the saying goes, ‘you take care of your employees and they will take care of the business’. We believe that only a satisfied employee can deliver excellent service so we pay attention to this area. Following the right process in any organisation is important, and we focus mainly on this. When something goes wrong, we look at the process which helps us to understand the root cause of the challenge to overcome them. It’s all about creating a good work culture and environment for employees, which helps to empower them while handling guests; also to add to this, follow up and time management is critical as well.

What are some the challenges you face, and how do you overcome them?

Like all hotels, managing expectations is a challenge which we constantly work on. Being such a diverse country, we have people from all over the world and they come with different beliefs, cultures, and views. They react very differently to a given situation. Fulfilling their expectations is what I consider a challenge. I feel that it’s a good challenge to face as it helps us to learn.

How do you ensure your staff remain driven in the hotel?

Motivational factors differ between people but the emotional factor remains common amongst all. Though remuneration is an important motivator, it’s only a short-term aspect whereas an emotional connect has a long-term impact between leaders and team members. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way; motivation is not always an award or promotion and we have a good understanding of this. We also have various programmes for front-of-house and heart-of-house team members to showcase their skills, which is recognised during various team meetings including town hall.

What are some of your career highlights, and what are your ambitions for the future?

I have a long way to go and it’s too early to think about my achievements. I am happy with the way my career has shaped so far, and I am ready for bigger challenges. Growth is not just about me moving up, but also taking my colleagues along with me, and I feel I have done that well over the years.

How do you ensure your property remains attractive to guests?

A number of factors we implement ensure that our guests are always satisfied with what we offer. They include keeping in touch, understand guests’ needs, asking for feedback and resolving shortfalls quickly, keeping an eye on competitors, and making sure our services are the best value-for-money offering. It’s also important to look for opportunities to go that extra mile.