BOH IN­TER­VIEW

Sof­i­tel Bahrain’s di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing, Emre Ki­razci says search engine mar­ket­ing within the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in Bahrain has yet to fully ma­ture

Hotelier Middle East - - CONTENTS -

Sof­i­tel Bahrain di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing Emre Ki­razci.

What is your ca­reer back­ground, and how did you did you get into hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket­ing? I grad­u­ated from Mid­dle­sex Univer­sity with a BA in in­ter­na­tional tourism and busi­ness man­age­ment, I joined Kempin­ski Ho­tels as global sales co­or­di­na­tor back in April 2008, but soon got pro­moted as the sales man­ager at their Palm Jumeirah prop­erty. In March 2012, I joined the FRHI Ho­tels as di­rec­tor, global ac­counts, and main­tained a strong stand­ing within the group for five years be­fore mov­ing to Sof­i­tel Bahrain Zal­laq Tha­lassa Sea and Spa as di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing in July 2017. I have re­cently been man­ag­ing two land­mark prop­er­ties, the Mer­cure Grand Seef as well as Sof­i­tel Bahrain Zal­laq Tha­lassa Sea and Spa, as clus­ter di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing, and aim to lead the ho­tels to great suc­cess.

What are your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at the ho­tel?

I over­look the topline rev­enue, sales and mar­ket­ing goals of our two prime ho­tels and to en­sure the two brands are suc­cess­fully rep­re­sented in lo­cal and over­seas mar­kets, en­sur­ing the best in­ter­est of Ac­corho­tels, all share­hold­ers and Heartists.

What are some of the cur­rent trends in hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket­ing in Bahrain?

Like all in­dus­tries, hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket­ing is fast adapt­ing to the dig­i­tal realm. Guests are in­creas­ingly us­ing dig­i­tal medi­ums to book; go­ing with on­line travel agents or sim­ply through di­rect book­ings on­line via search engine ads. CRM re­mains a key driver in the mar­ket­ing mix and e-mar­ket­ing, with its cus­tomis­able fea­tures along with data­base man­age­ment, has proved ex­tremely suc­cess­ful. So­cial me­dia has evolved over­all vastly with bet­ter al­go­rithms, specif­i­cally for Face­book and In­sta­gram, and greater free­dom to track, tar­get, re­tar­get and cus­tomise ad cam­paigns. Search engine mar­ket­ing within the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in Bahrain has yet to fully ma­ture, with ad­ver­tis­ers still strug­gling to see its full po­ten­tial. With in­creased usage of image-friendly so­cial me­dia plat­forms, such as In­sta­gram and Snapchat, our on­line mar­ket­ing ad spend ac­cord­ingly re­flects higher ex­pen­di­ture on these plat­forms with fan­tas­tic out­comes and bet­ter ROI. Guests are also more re­cep­tive to so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers, hence we hasve col­lab­o­rated with lead­ing so­cial me­dia per­son­al­i­ties and blog­gers.

What are some of the strate­gies you de­vel­oped for Sof­i­tel Bahrain?

I have suc­cess­fully been able to re­po­si­tion Sof­i­tel Bahrain as the pre­mium lux­ury re­sort in Bahrain for fam­i­lies lo­cally as well as from Saudi Ara­bia. We have also pen­e­trated the CIS and Euro­pean mar­kets, and es­tab­lished the first di­rect char­tered flights be­tween Moscow and Bahrain in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal tourism au­thor­i­ties, start­ing from Oc­to­ber 2018. I also ig­nited the In­dian wed­ding craze, re­brand­ing the prop­erty as the ul­ti­mate is­land wed­ding des­ti­na­tion, re­sult­ing in var­i­ous large-scale wed­dings at the prop­erty.

What are some of the chal­lenges you face? Bahrain is a small and ex­tremely un­pre­dictable mar­ket and never pre­pares you for what you may face next. It is a chal­lenge we face when bud­get­ing and is a fore­cast­ing night­mare at times.

What is your ul­ti­mate goal?

My ul­ti­mate goal is to po­si­tion Sof­i­tel Bahrain Zal­laq Tha­lassa Sea and Spa as the chief hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion in the Mid­dle East at­tract­ing tourists from all around the globe. Be­sides this, also drive ad­di­tional foot­fall to the Mid­dle East’s only Tha­lassa Sea and Spa and pro­mote the heal­ing prop­er­ties of sea­wa­ter.

How im­por­tant is it for a ho­tel to of­fer deals or in­cen­tives to stay com­pet­i­tive? In such a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try, deals are cru­cial to stay ahead in the game. Dur­ing peak sea­sons, to avoid rev­enue di­lu­tion, deals do not work well.dur­ing off­peak sea­sons, deals and in­cen­tives al­most guar­an­tee suc­cess, based on mar­ket re­search, pric­ing strat­egy, mar­ket­ing chan­nels and of­fer­ings.

What are your ma­jor achieve­ments at your ho­tel?

Be­ing able to re­po­si­tion the prop­erty suc­cess­fully in the GCC as well as the CIS and In­dian mar­kets with pos­i­tive re­sults.

Emre Ki­razci of Sof­i­tel Bahrain.

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