In an exclusive interview with CustomerService.ae Saoud Khoory, Deputy General Manager of Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi discusses various aspects of the mall that make it a unique and popular destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. He also talks about the importance of customer feedback and highlights the efforts being made to enhance visitor experience.
What would you showcase as the highlights of Yas Mall which set it apart from other malls in the region?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s ultimate retail destination, has introduced a variety of brand new concepts launched for the first time by leading regional and international retail stores. Designed with all ranges of consumers in mind, the mall is providing retailers with a sophisticated environment to operate in and offers visitors a distinctive lifestyle experience that goes beyond shopping.
Immersed in natural light, the wide avenues of Yas Mall host over 370 of the most desirable retail, F&B brands and entertainment offerings, all within easy reach of the Capital and the Abu Dhabi International Airport and only 45 minutes from Dubai. With a direct link to the world’s largest indoor theme park Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Mall completes the Yas Island proposition, which already boasts iconic attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld, Yas Links, along with a large choice of hotels.
Yas Mall aims to bring many distinctive brands under one roof. For example, the mall houses the largest Debenhams outside of the UK in which shoppers have access to a personal stylist. Chalhoub Group, a leading retailer, has also created their first own brand department store which is set to open in Q4 2015 and will comprise more than 200 brands.
Additionally, the mall houses the second Hamleys, Hollister, Brook’s Brothers and Geant Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi, as well as the first Lego Store, Under Armour store, two-level Go Sports store and Joe Fresh in UAE.
Yas Mall sets a new benchmark in design, retail, entertainment and dining, adding breadth and depth to the ever diversifying Abu Dhabi retail landscape. It is the vibrant everyday getaway for UAE residents and tourists alike, a place to gather, reinforcing Aldar’s commitment to the community.
What elements of Customer Comfort have been taken into consideration in the design and setup of the Mall in order to provide the ultimate Customer Experience to visitors?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall’s design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of light and space. A series of Streets, Avenues, Boulevards and Squares makes Yas Mall easy to navigate for visitors.
Located at the heart of Yas Mall, Town Square represents the largest enclosed gathering space of any shopping center in the Middle East, in which events and activities are held frequently to engage various members of the community. Its naturally-lit spaces surrounded by greenery and water features were specially designed to bring the sense of being outdoors indoors.
Furthermore, Yas Mall boasts nearly 10,000 covered parking spaces, with exceptionally easy, direct access to the highway and only 5 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
What customer guidance mechanisms are in place for ensuring smooth and easy navigation throughout the mall?
Saoud Khoory: To improve convenience for customers visiting Yas Mall by car, we have implemented a clear parking guidance system as well as modern LED signage.
Yas Mall also provides both on-desk and roaming customer service staff, who are fully equipped with mall guides to answer any questions our visitors may have. Our customer service team is comprised of 16 different nationalities and can speak 13 languages. They have been trained in line with international standards to ensure the best possible visitor experience.
What disaster management mechanisms do you have in place in case of calamities such as fire, robberies etc.
Saoud Khoory: The safety and security of our visitors will remain a top priority for Yas Mall. The management has deployed a highly skilled operations team which undergoes frequent operations and HSE training to ensure complete preparedness for all scenarios.
What types of leisure and entertainment facilities do you have at Yas Mall, making it an enjoyable experience, not only for adults, but for children as well?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall is the ideal place for families to spend time together and caters to children of all ages. Offerings include the first Fun Works in the UAE, the region’s largest adventure play area, with a 60,000 sq. ft. area dedicated to playful learning and ‘edutainment’ with activities ranging from science and arts to theatre and construction. The mall also caters to adults looking for some active fun, with the region’s first Softair Battlezone in which they can experience the thrill of competition.
For all film aficionados, the 20 screen Vox Cinemas boasts the biggest MAX screen in Abu Dhabi at 24.5 metres wide. Along with 3 Gold Cinemas, its 4DX technology engages all five senses and makes audiences feel as if they are part of the feature.
There are over 60 F&B outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Dining Area and cafes spilling out onto Town Square. Rogo’s, the world’s biggest Rollercoaster Restaurant, is breaking the mould on how food is served by sending orders to diners on roller coaster tracks. Other brands to make a memorable experience for both, adults and children include: The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, Shakespeare and Co., Jamba Juice, Pie Face and PAUL.
What customer feedback processes do you have in place to assess customer satisfaction with the overall Mall experience?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall always welcomes feedback from its valued visitors. To ensure that customers are able to voice their thoughts, the customer service staff at Yas Mall has been equipped with handheld tablets that contain questionnaires proactively offered to visitors to provide feedback on their mall experience. The mall will also commission bi-annual market research to gain further insight.
In terms of technology, what high tech features have you introduced in the Mall which enhances the overall customer experience?
Saoud Khoory: In order to reduce clutter and provide visitors and consumers with an interactive experience, Yas Mall has relied mainly on digital signage such as interactive totem screens and digital screens in Town Square. The mall also offers free Wi-Fi access for its visitors.
What facilities do you have available for senior and disabled visitors?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall has arranged wheelchair facilities and dedicated parking spaces that are readily available for senior and disabled visitors and ensured that all bathrooms are well equipped to receive customers with special needs. Yas Mall also provides free wheel chair loan services to all customers.
What rewards and promotions are you currently running to attract new visitors?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall has several exciting plans for rewards and promotions throughout 2015, which will be unveiled soon.
In what ways does Yas Mall showcase traditional elements of Abu Dhabi culture and hospitality?
Saoud Khoory: Yas Mall boasts a beautiful falcon sculpture at the entrance of the mall, designed by acclaimed international Artist Marco Cianfanelli that symbolizes the force, grace, pride, strength and courage of the national bird of the UAE, recognizing the importance of falconry in Arab tradition and culture.
To further reflect the UAE’s love for art, Yas Mall also commissioned Cianfanelli, to design two trees made from rusted steel to represent the Arabian Ghaf tree with the leaves modelled as Arabic letters, as well as Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar who designed spectacular hanging abstract paper fiber art found across two key areas of the mall.
In addition, 20% of all materials used for the mall have been procured locally to support the national economy. We also have many cultural events planned throughout the year as part of our marketing efforts to showcase the traditional elements of Abu Dhabi’s culture.
Are there any upcoming additions to the Mall aimed towards delivering a better Customer Experience?
Saoud Khoory: The design and operation of Yas Mall is a reflection of the international team of experts that were involved from the very beginning at the initial design stages of Yas Mall to today’s current daily operations. The team has worked tirelessly to ensure that all of our customers’ day-to-day needs and wants are already being met at Yas Mall. Still, the feedback received from customers remains a critically important factor to mall management, and we aim to continue using this feedback to enhance the experience of our visitors.
About Saoud Khoory
As Deputy General Manager of Yas Mall, Saoud Khoory plays an integral role in overseeing all areas of operations of the newly opened destination. His main responsibilities are to support the mall’s business development, bolster it’s retail leasing portfolio and retail strategy by focusing on maximizing the overall performance of the mall operations.
Saoud brings forth more than 10 years of business experience, having worked in some of the country’s leading companies including Zakum Development Company, Noor Islamic Bank and Aldar properties PJSC. Prior to joining Yas Mall, Saoud held various positions within Aldar including sales, business development and also held a key role during the merger between Aldar and Sorouh in the integration office.
He was also part of the Formula 1 events management team for six years in a row.