Mohamed Kamal, a part of hotel management at Gevora Hotel in Dubai, shares his insights on cultivating memorable guest experiences.
Q. In your opinion, what sets Gevora Hotel apart from other hotels in the UAE?
Mohamed: Gevora Hotel gained worldwide recognition by becoming the tallest hotel in the world in February 2018. We are very proud of this achievement as Gevora is a homegrown, Emirati brand which is unaffiliated with any global hotel brand. We believe the Gevora experience is truly one of a kind. Our hotel rooms all have breathtaking views over Dubai – with our highest room being on the 71st floor! We are very competitively priced which gives guests exactly the value they are looking for.
Q. Tell us about the customer journey at your hotel – from the moment guests enter till they check-out. How do you ensure that they have a great experience during their stay?
Mohamed: At Gevora, you are always greeted with a smile! From the moment you step out of your car to when you settle down in the hotel room. A typical customer journey will start with the guest stepping out their vehicle, followed by a friendly check-in with a welcome drink and cold towel. The guest relations staff escorts the guest to their room while explaining all of the hotel’s facilities and restaurants. During their stay, guests can enjoy an amazing pool with a skyline view, savor various international dishes at the restaurants or keep up with their work-out routine at the gym. When it’s time to check-out, the guests are asked about their stay and all feedback is welcomed. At Gevora, you are welcomed as a guest but you leave as family!
Q. What does excellent customer service mean to you?
Mohamed: Excellent customer service is, first and foremost, listening closely to our guests and addressing their needs accordingly. Often, busy hotels overpromise and underdeliver which leaves guests disappointed and less likely to come back. In many other hotels, customers feel like they cannot approach the staff with questions, when it is the staff’s duty to make guests feel comfortable. We also make sure to focus on the little details to make each guest’s stay even more special!
Q. In your opinion, what is the best way to gather feedback from guests?
Mohamed: The best way to gather feedback is to have clear communication with the guests. Open, two-way communication allows hotels to address any service failures that might have occured.
Q.How does Gevora deal with unsatisfied customers?
Mohamed: Whenever we encounter unsatisfied guests, we make sure to investigate and see where the failure took place. The hotel management sits down with the guest to get to the bottom of the matter. Next, we offer the appropriate compensation based on the severity of the failure and on what we feel will satisfy the guest. The best thing you can do is put yourself in the guest’s shoes to truly understand them and why they are not satisfied. Unfortunately, service failures do happen and it is important to recover from service failures to retain the guest!
Q. How do you, as manager, ensure that your hotel staff is happily engaged in work?
Mohamed: Keeping employees motivated is at the core of Gevora’s mission. We reward our best employees on a regular basis with an in-house reward program. Whenever we receive positive feedback, it is shared with the staff, which again keeps motivation levels up! We do have training opportunities throughout the hotel, which allow the staff to explore a variety of departments and develop their skill sets accordingly.
As the Hotel Manager, I am, myself, very involved with the staff and speak to them on a daily basis. Management operates an open-door policy and they can address any matters with us directly, should they feel the need to do so. At Gevora, we are a tight-knit family and the concept of a “workplace hierarchy” is not reinforced. We want our staff to feel at-ease and comfortable so they deliver excellent customer service.
Q. What steps do you take to make sure your guests keep coming back to your hotel?
Mohamed: Providing personalised customer service as well as making sure that the customer journey is consistently delivered at the highest standard. Shall a service failure occur, we address it straightaway in order to satisfy the guests and ensure that they choose Gevora for their next stay. The feeling of being at home makes a lot of our guests want to come back. We are establishing a customer recognition program that will give rewards based on how frequently customers stay with Gevora.
Q. How have you seen guests’ expectations change during your time at Gevora Hotel? How do you keep up with these changing expectations?
Mohamed: Guest expectations are constantly changing but some guests still do not feel like they can directly address their needs with the hotel. The only way we can keep up is by talking to our guests. We address them when we see them in the lobby or when we encounter them in the elevators. There are various guest touchpoints and we make sure to engage with the guest whenever possible!
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your online customer support mechanism and is this available 24/7 in real-time?
Mohamed: We currently do not have an online customer support mechanism but customers can reach out to us via Instagram or Facebook. All customer queries are answered within 24 hours. Customers can also contact our 24/7 call center or email us. In addition to that we monitor guest reviews closely, on Tripadvisor or Booking.com, to identify and learn from guest experiences.
Q. What kind of customer service training programs do you provide to your hotel staff and how frequently?
Mohamed: At Gevora Hotel, we focus on customer service training as we feel it is vital to maintaining excellent customer relations. We host both on-the-job and off-the-job training sessions on a monthly basis. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
❏ Customer Service Training
❏ Dealing with Difficult Customers
❏ Service Recovery
❏ Telephone Courtesy
❏ Front Desk Essentials
❏ Customer Relationship Management
❏ Feedback and Review Handling
❏ Service Culture at the Workplace
❏ Coaching Skills Training
❏ Fire & Safety Training, and
❏ First Aid Training.
These sessions assist in meeting our guests’ customer service expectations in a timely and proficient manner. We believe that training sessions enhance service standards and result in memorable experiences for our guests.
Q. What are the key skills you focus on during these staff trainings?
Mohamed: At Gevora Hotel, we find it crucial to highlight and implement training schemes that boost our team’s skill sets. Skills such as communication skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills, multitasking capabilities, and self-confidence boosters comprise the centre of our customized training sessions. The focus remains on motivating the team while increasing levels of employee engagement so the team delivers their best at all times.
Q.What is your hotel’s brand message when it comes to customer experience?
Mohamed: Feel at home, away from home!
Q. How are your staff members brand ambassadors for Gevora Hotel?
Mohamed: Our society is pretty much still based on social interactions and this is why our employees are at the core of our service delivery! Everyone working at Gevora is proud to be part of such an iconic development, specifically, proud of working for the tallest hotel in the world! The orientation and training they go through before facing customers allows them to understand who we are as a brand and represent it accordingly. Gevora is a brand, and its employees are its face!
Q. How does your hotel plan to offer an even better customer experience in the future?
Mohamed: We will constantly improve and enhance the guest experience by introducing new ways of minimizing service delays. We want our hotel to be a convenience hub for the guests where they find everything they need within the four walls of their rooms. Naturally, continuous training and staff development will remain the core activity to ensure that we are aware of the latest customer service trends.
About Mohamed Kamal
Mohamed is the Hotel Manager at Gevora Hotel with over 16 years of experience in the hospitality industry. His impressive career includes experience working within the Kempinski Hotel Group and the Viceroy Group. Mohamed studied at the Swiss Hotel Management School and he places a premium on exceptional customer service through effective team leadership.