TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The past months have posed various challenges to the Lebanese tourism industry. How has business been at the hotel? What achievements are you most proud of?
YASMINE MAALOUF: We have achieved the [anticipated] figures in terms of occupancy for the first and second quarters of the year.
Of course, we have faced a big challenge in terms of average daily rate, however, the volume of business [helped to secure] the balance.
In addition, we faced the challenge of an entire renovation while still operating the hotel.
This project posed the biggest challenge; however, we are now very proud of our new [offerings].
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Please tell us about this development. Which areas of the property have been renewed?
YASMINE MAALOUF: Indeed, we have just completed the renovation of the entire Ramada Downtown Beirut – which we are very proud of.
The outlets as well as the lobby have been completely renovated. The 99 rooms have been also partially renovated with new colours and new bathrooms.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: In order to counterbalance the decrease in GCC visitors, in recent months, Lebanese hoteliers have been particularly active in European and African markets. How have your strategy changed in order to better adapt to current market conditions? Which markets are on your radar?
YASMINE MAALOUF: Certainly, we have focussed on the European markets, however, we have been also targeting Egypt, Iraq as well as the Lebanese diaspora.
We have been listening to our clientele and accounts, and consequently adopted a new strategy according to their needs.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The Lebanese tourism industry has long been famed for its genuine services and hospitable people. How big of a challenge is it today to attract the best talent and keep these employees engaged in the long run?
YASMINE MAALOUF: The company offers benefits to their employees, such as insurance, additional annual leave, activities as well as internal departmental trainings. In addition, at Ramada Downtown Beirut, we have introduced a special programme for mothers, allowing them to create a healthy balance between their career and personal life.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: As the general manager of Ramada Downtown Beirut, what are your priorities for the coming months?
YASMINE MAALOUF: In the coming months, we will be focussing on meeting our budget goals, while also preparing ourselves for and [working on] year-end activities.
We are also in the process of launching our theme nights, with [programmes] such as Ladies Nights every Fridays, as of September.