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July 6, 2009
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Jumeirah defies downturn with high occupancies




Dubai luxury hotel group Jumeirah achieved occupancies of over 90 percent at its beachfront properties during the first four months of 2009 despite the impact on the tourism industry from the global economic crisis.

 

Guy Crawford, chief executive office, Jumeirah, told the Institute of Travel & Tourism (ITT) annual conference, held in Dubai in June, that Jumeirah had been able to pull back from low occupancy levels at the end of 2008, thanks to successful partnerships with key stakeholders such as Emirates Airline and DTCM.

“In December we were looking at occupancies of around 50 percent, so we sat down with some of our key partners and decided we would do something about it. At the end of the first quarter we ended up with 91 percent occupancy at our beach properties in Dubai, and by April it was over 97 percent occupancy,” said Crawford.

 

Crawford highlighted a raft of promotional activities including DTCM’s ‘Keep Discovering Dubai’ campaign as being a major contributor to helping to boost visitor numbers. “We had over 2,400 travel and media people come to Dubai and experience it over two months – that is a real way to show to people that this is sustainable, its real and it’s a good product, and to come and stay with us.”

 

And after receiving a barrage of negative criticism about the price of food and beverage from guests, the decision was taken to lower prices at the beginning of the year. “We are a luxury hotel company so we don’t take that decision lightly. We learnt more and more to listen to our guests – this will be a key thing for the future.”

 

Crawford admitted that, as well as promotions, Jumeirah has been forced to drop room rates to entice guests. “We have dropped our rates, that’s no secret. But I wouldn’t say substantially. Our average rate for the winter was over US$577 and that’s I think a very good rate across the world.”

 

Jumeirah, which has 12,000 staff in Dubai, has also cut costs through redundancies and by placing staff on unpaid leave. “We said to our colleagues, we are going through a difficult quarter, but we promise that we won’t make anybody line-facing redundant,” said Crawford. “We need you to help us during quiet periods to take a few days off – purely voluntary. We had 5,500 colleagues who did that for us, as well as people in Europe.”

 

Despite the downturn, Crawford remains confident about the market saying “we believe that if we deliver good service to customers, they will pay for it even if it’s expensive. We are very confident that there is a powerful future for the travel sector.” 

 

Jumeirah currently has 19 hotels under construction across the world including Thailand, Shanghai and the Maldives.

 


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