In focus: Sheraton Oman Hotel
2 years ago by Afrah Mohammad
In an exclusive interview with CustomerService.ae, Samir Messaoudi, General Manager at Sheraton Oman Hotel talks about the focus on creating a luxurious experience for guests. He also highlights the extensive guest feedback mechanism in place, the loyalty programs being offered and the emphasis on staff training programs.
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“Experience Is What People Are Looking For”
Q: Tell us a bit about Sheraton Oman Hotel and what sets you apart from your competitors in the hospitality sector?
Samir: Sheraton Oman Hotel has played a key role in shaping the hospitality sector in Oman since it first started business in 1985.
Today the hotel is the winner of international awards, such as Hotelier Middle East Award in the nomination of “Young Hotelier of the Year”, World Travel Awards as “Oman’s Leading Hotel 2021”, and it is well positioned not only to be a leader in the sector but also to support the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism in promoting the country’s tourism potential at the international level.
Located in the heart of Muscat and near Muttrah Souq, Sheraton Oman Hotel is a perfect destination for business and leisure travelers alike.
Q: How would you describe the customer journey from the moment a guest enters the hotel till they check-out?
Samir: Every stage of the journey (from travel inspiration & research to booking and stay up to check-out & post stay) has the potential to allow us as hospitality professionals to wow our guests with an exceptional service by using the right products and the right tools.
Each step of the guest experience includes numerous interactions to consider in managing and improving the customer relationship. This experience is ultimately about being in the right place at the right time, with the right message. What matters is the value we bring to our guests.
Q: Can you highlight some of the facilities and amenities that you provide which enhance the guest experience?
Samir: The hotel features a range of leisure facilities, such as the state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness and Spa with Technogym equipment, with a separate gym for ladies. Facilities include an outdoor and indoor pool with an option for resistance swimming, two Jacuzzis and exclusive access for ladies every morning from 9am to 12pm. The expansive spa features four treatment rooms, with two rooms exclusively for men and two for women.
For business travelers, the hotel offers Sheraton Club, a sophisticated venue catering exclusively for Club Room and Suite guests. With light snacks and drinks throughout the day, appetizing hors d’oeuvre, daily happy hours, Sheraton Club is a perfect spot for socializing and relaxing.
The hotel boasts nine meeting rooms, two boardrooms and the Ballroom, which is designed to pay tribute to the splendor and generosity of Omani hospitality. With a capacity to host large events of over 1,000 guests and smaller intimate gatherings as well, Sheraton Oman can be a perfect choice for both private celebrations and business functions.
Q: What is your philosophy when it comes to ensuring customer happiness?
Samir: I believe, that in many cases, customer service is even more important than the product. Experience is what people are looking for and we care about more than giving guests a bed to sleep in for a few nights. Truly happy guests, on the other hand, will remain loyal and active advocates because they love what we offer and have built a real relationship with our business.
Q: What feedback mechanisms do you have in place and how do you handle customer complaints?
Samir: Marriott guest voice is a guest feedback program created in partnership with Medallia for Marriott. GuestVoice offers a short, simple guest satisfaction survey to allow travelers to provide their input directly to the property. In addition, guestVoice triangulates social media feedback with survey responses to uncover deeper feedback and insights, giving Marriott properties the tools, we need to take actions that will directly improve guest satisfaction scores.
GuestVoice also shares guest feedback above-property, giving the brand a tool to better understand trends and the root causes of both guest dissatisfaction as well as positive experiences. These insights, when shared across the brand, give Marriott a powerful competitive advantage.
Q: Do you offer any loyalty programs or discount packages for your customers?
Samir: Retaining an existing customer is ultimately cheaper and more valuable than acquiring a new customer. We understand that customer loyalty is about more than giving customers one good hotel experience. Instead, the goal is for those guests to always choose Marriott when they travel. That’s customer loyalty.
Marriott has a built-in method for creating loyal customers. Our rewards program encourages customers to keep using our services. But it also gives us a way to care for our customers. When a guest becomes a loyal member, we can personalize their experience.
Further, we reward loyal customers to keep them coming back. Loyalty members earn points and can redeem them for free nights at hotels. They can access simple mobile check-ins, earn gifts over time, and unlock special member rates.
Q: Do you offer online customer support on your digital platforms and is this support 24/7?
Samir: Marriott Bonvoy members can always reach us through the membership’s online community, Marriott Insiders. Apart from it, we monitor guest feedback through websites like Tripadvisor, Google, and social media platforms. Every comment or request is attended to in a timely manner.
Q: In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, what are some of the changes and safety measures in place at your hotel?
Samir: As we look ahead, we know that our guests are eager to get on the road and get together in person. So many life events have been postponed — weddings, reunions, anniversaries. There is simply no virtual replacement for that. We believe we are well positioned to meet the needs of all of our guests as soon as they are ready to travel again.
Our top priority is maintaining the highest levels of safety. Prevention steps include disinfecting all key entry points, including buffet areas and high touch points in public areas. Maintaining social distancing, committing to wearing a face mask, paying attention to personal hygiene… all this is adhered to. Sheraton Oman Hotel was amongst the first ones to have all our associates vaccinated. And we follow the health precautionary measures at all times.
Q: Are you integrating any latest technology to enhance guest experience?
Samir: Yes, in light of the Covid-19 protocol, and the ban of any social activities and meetings, our hotel was the first in Oman to tap into the virtual meetings and conferences zone. In collaboration with our partner – Space maker – the hotel has introduced the new technology called Go Hybrid, which allowed people to hold conferences and video meetings over the Internet, with the speaker presenting from the actual meeting room.
Apart from that, we have launched Mobile Key access at Sheraton Oman Hotel that allows Marriott Rewards members to use their mobile devices as a key to access their guest rooms as well as common areas, including fitness center and pool.
For the past year we’ve focused on creating a space that provides guests with a luxurious and rewarding experience at our completely renovated hotel. The Mobile Key is a feature that provides them with an ease of entry unlike other hotels.
Q: Do you have any staff training programs in place and what key soft skills do you focus on?
Samir: Marriott International is a people-first company. We believe in taking care of our associates, so they in turn take care of our guests. It’s embedded in our DNA. We have a big focus on training and development opportunities for our associates, as well as programs for mentoring, wellbeing and more.
Q: How do you plan on making customer experience better in the future?
Samir: We have refocused on local and domestic travel markets. “Staycation” packages have been introduced to lure city dwellers eager for a close-to-home respite; and to attract guests within a day’s drive, offering a safe, feasible getaway.
We are looking for new ways to enhance the guest experiences in and outside of the hotel. Sheraton Oman Hotel is well known for outside catering and it has recently taken over the magnificent dining venue on the top of the cliff with a picturesque panoramic view over Muscat Bay. Started as a catered service, this has shortly become an outlet managed by Sheraton Oman Hotel as Cliff Deck.
Since its opening in 1985, Sheraton Oman has had a history of bringing people together in the heart of Muscat with its imaginative and innovative range of dining experiences.
About Samir Messaoudi
Samir Messaoudi earned his Associate Degree of Science from City College of San Francisco in Hotel Management. Mr. Messaoudi occupied several significant vacancies in Marriott International in USA, Qatar, Indonesia and UAE. In 2020 he got appointed as General Manager of Sheraton Oman Hotel where he has successfully managed the operation for the past 2 years, improving the profitability of the hotel.