JA strength­ens its foothold

With a pos­i­tive year in the In­dian mar­ket, JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels is leav­ing no stone un­turned in mak­ing the brand a known name amongst In­dian trav­ellers.

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For JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels, it has been a year of hav­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion in In­dia and the go­ing has cer­tainly been good, claims Wil­liam Har­ley-Flem­ing, Clus­ter Gen­eral Man­ager, JA Mana­faru Mal­dives, JA Jebel Ali Golf Re­sort, JA Shoot­ing Club & JA Cen­tre for Ex­cel­lence Dubai. “The last one year for us in the In­dian mar­ket has been very suc­cess­ful. Ku­nal Mun­shaw and Pooja Wad­hwa from Avante Garde Con­sult­ing have done a fan­tas­tic job. We have seven prop­er­ties within the port­fo­lio in Dubai, Mal­dives and Sey­chelles, and for us it’s about get­ting the mes­sage out that we are dif­fer­ent from any cookie-cut­ter ho­tel and have a brand that is unique with a heart of hos­pi­tal­ity, at­ten­tion to de­tail, and per­son­alised ser­vice. For us, it’s not just about putting it on a piece of pa­per, but also hav­ing one-on-one meet­ings with the travel agents, our part­ners, cor­po­rate clients as well as the me­dia,” he said.

He added that they have got a num­ber of In­dian guests through all chan­nels in­clud­ing the trade and in­di­vid­ual book­ings. “We’ve seen mas­sive up­take in In­dian trav­ellers to the Mal­dives, with over 500 per cent in­crease yearon-year. There is about 100 per cent in­crease for Dubai and about 150-200 per cent in­crease in Sey­chelles. Since we started with a very low oc­cu­pancy from In­dia, it’s a very good in­crease. How­ever, we are look­ing to con­tinue that growth,” shared Flem­ing.

In or­der to push the brand fur­ther into the In­dian mar­ket they have on board Thomas Grund­ner as Group Di­rec­tor of Sales & Mar­ket­ing, JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels, who said that they are look­ing at all sec­tors from In­dia in­clud­ing FIT, MICE, wed­dings and in­cen­tives. “If we are get­ting an in­cen­tive, wed­ding or MICE group, it would in­crease the oc­cu­pancy rapidly be­cause every­body comes from the same source mar­ket. For JA Mana­faru Mal­dives, it’s more of the FIT busi­ness, but we are also tar­get­ing the wed­ding mar­ket. We want to make sure that peo­ple come for their honey­moon to the prop­erty as well as to cel­e­brate spe­cial oc­ca­sions. Dubai, on the other hand, gives all the seg­ments the op­por­tu­nity, es­pe­cially with the JA Oa­sis Beach Tower apart­ments, where we have

There has been a mas­sive up­take in the num­ber of In­dian trav­ellers to the Mal per cent in­crease

The wed­ding mar­ket source seg­ments we be­cause we have fan­tas­tic ho­tels, but also a desert re­treat

a very strong In­dian base. It of­fers per­fect space with the way the apart­ments are split as well as a good lo­ca­tion that is close to the city as well as the beach. Then there is our prime prod­uct— JA Palm Tree Court and JA Jebel Ali Beach Ho­tel, where one can have the best beach that stretches 800m, a golf course, ma­rina, shoot­ing range as well as sta­bles. It is a des­ti­na­tion in it­self,” he said.

JA Jebel Ali Beach Ho­tel and JA Palm Tree Court are quite close to Dubai Parks & Re­sorts, which is one of the lat­est at­trac­tions in Dubai. Grund­ner re­vealed that they are work­ing closely with the at­trac­tion and once it be­comes pop­u­lar, the busi­ness to the prop­er­ties would also see a rise. “We are also try­ing to bring the pop­u­lar­ity of Dubai Parks & Re­sorts into the mar­ket, which would not only help us in driv­ing more room nights, but also drive more traf­fic into the park. We have a free shut­tle ser­vice be­tween the re­sort and the ho­tel, and guests at our prop­er­ties get free en­try to the parks,” he re­vealed.

Elab­o­rat­ing fur­ther on the wed­ding busi­ness from In­dia, Grund­ner said, “While we are reach­ing out to key play­ers in the wed­ding busi­ness, the big­gest chal­lenge for us is the size of the wed­dings be­cause based on our in­ven­tory, some of the wed­dings are too big. How­ever, the wed­ding mar­ket is one of the key source seg­ments we want to tap, not only be­cause we have fan­tas­tic ho­tels, but also be­cause we have a desert re­treat, Al Sahra Desert Re­sort, where we can host up to 10,000 peo­ple with an am­phithe­atre set up right in the mid­dle for con­certs and other func­tions.”

The key fo­cus for JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels, how­ever, is es­tab­lish­ing the brand and cre­at­ing aware­ness for it in In­dia. “We knew cre­at­ing aware­ness of the brand is go­ing to be a chal­lenge in In­dia when we en­tered the mar­ket. How­ever, I think see­ing is be­liev­ing and we have seen pos­i­tive re­sults from this mar­ket,” said Flem­ing. “We are will­ing to look at an op­por­tu­nity in In­dia, but first we want to es­tab­lish a name in the mar­ket be­cause we want to build a strong foun­da­tion and make sure that the day we come into In­dia, we have a good recog­ni­tion and un­der­stand­ing in the mar­ket,” he added.

Now, the fo­cus for their In­dia strat­egy will be hav­ing a brand am­bas­sador, which would be key in cre­at­ing aware­ness about the brand. Grund­ner said, “We have stronger pres­ence in the mar­ket through reg­u­lar sales trips, func­tions for our part­ners, stronger re­la­tion­ships with the trade, con­tent shar­ing and a brand am­bas­sador to get bet­ter ex­po­sure. We have started dis­cus­sions on the same and are look­ing at Bol­ly­wood celebri­ties as well. There needs to be a right per­son who fits in with the brand, un­der­stands the ethos be­hind it, and ap­pre­ci­ates what we are try­ing to achieve.

Wil­liam Har­ley-Flem­ing Clus­ter Gen­eral Man­ager, JA Mana­faru Mal­dives, JA Jebel Ali Golf Re­sort, JA Shoot­ing Club & JA Cen­tre for Ex­cel­lence Dubai

Thomas Grund­ner Group Di­rec­tor of Sales & Mar­ket­ing JA Re­sorts & Ho­tels

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