Fahad Abdulrahim Kazim, CEO of Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA, discusses his professional path, industry challenges, and his constant priority to improve the customer experience.
Tell us about your journey. How did it all start?
It all started with a deep passion for creating unforgettable experiences for guests. From a young age, I knew I wanted to be part of an industry that could connect people and positively impact their lives. I began my career in hospitality by taking on various roles that allowed me to gain valuable insights into the industry’s inner workings. Starting from the ground level, I learned the importance of paying attention to every detail, providing exceptional service, and anticipating the needs of our guests. As my career grew, I had the amazing opportunity to work with renowned hotel companies and engage with talented experts that had the same passion for hospitality. These experiences provided me with a deep grasp of the industry as well as the knowledge and abilities to navigate its ever-changing terrain. This global exposure has influenced my approach to hospitality, emphasising the importance of cultural sensitivity, adaptability, and acceptance of variety.
This road has undoubtedly been filled with difficulties, but the rewards have been enormous.
How has your extensive real estate background led to your success in the hospitality industry?
My real estate experience has provided me with a solid foundation in property development, investing, and operations. This means I can tackle hospitality initiatives strategically. Understanding market dynamics, property valuation, and asset management has assisted me in identifying and capitalising on opportunities, making educated investment decisions, and ensuring the long-term viability and profitability of our assets. My considerable real estate experience provides me with a solid foundation and a distinct viewpoint in the hospitality business. I use this knowledge to navigate the complexity of the industry, make informed decisions, and drive the success of our properties.
How did Millennium Hotels & Resorts grow over time and make a reputation for itself in the industry?
Millennium Hotels & Resorts has experienced remarkable growth and has earned a reputation as a leading brand in the hospitality industry. We have achieved this through strategic expansion, a commitment to excellence, and a focus on delivering exceptional guest experiences.
The strategic expansion has been a critical driver of our growth. We have identified and capitalized on opportunities worldwide in high-demand markets and strategic locations. We have expanded our presence and enhanced our global footprint by carefully selecting properties and needs that align with our brand and guest preferences. Our commitment to excellence is ingrained in our brand DNA. We prioritise delivering exceptional guest experiences at every touchpoint. We have embraced technology as a means to enhance guest experiences.
How important are leadership skills in your role, and how do you motivate your employees regularly?
Leadership skills are fundamental in my role as CEO. They form the foundation for guiding and inspiring our team towards achieving our goals. Effective leadership creates a positive work culture, fosters innovation, and drives success.
The ability to inspire and motivate others is vital. A leader must create a positive and empowering work environment where individuals feel valued, supported, and encouraged to perform their best. Leading by example and demonstrating a solid work ethic are essential in earning the trust and respect of the team.
Motivating employees is a continuous effort, and I employ various strategies to keep our team motivated. Furthermore, I strive to create a culture of continuous learning and growth.
You’ve worn several hats in your extended career, from real estate leadership to supporting the audit and financial department to sitting on notable advisory boards to being the CEO of Tetra Hospitality. Which role do you enjoy the most and why?
It isn’t easy to choose a single role I enjoy most, as each has brought unique experiences and opportunities. However, if I had to pick, being the CEO of Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA has been exceptionally fulfilling. As CEO, I have the privilege of leading a talented team and shaping the company’s overall direction. It allows me to combine my passion for the hospitality industry with my real estate and financial management expertise. I thoroughly enjoy the dynamic nature of the role, the opportunity to drive growth and innovation, and the ability to create exceptional guest experiences. Being able to positively impact the hospitality industry and contribute to our properties’ success brings me great satisfaction.
In the business hospitality segment, many new hotels are opening. What distinguishes your brand from the competition?
In a market with numerous new hotel openings, Millennium Hotels & Resorts differentiates itself through a combination of factors that make our brand unique and sought after. Our focus on personalised experiences, exceptional service, and strategic partnerships sets us apart. From personalised greetings and customised amenities to curated dining options and specialised services, we go the extra mile to ensure guests feel valued and receive a memorable and bespoke stay.
Exceptional service is at the core of our brand. We have a passionate and dedicated team committed to exceeding guest expectations. Our employees undergo rigorous training programs to hone their skills and ensure they possess the necessary expertise to provide top-notch service.
Innovation is critical to staying ahead in the competitive hospitality industry. We embrace technology and invest in cutting-edge solutions that enhance guest experiences. From digital check-ins and bright room features to personalised mobile apps, we leverage innovative technologies to streamline processes and provide convenient and seamless experiences for our guests.
What are some of the trends you see impacting the hospitality industry?
Today, consumers are increasingly emphasizing the importance of sustainability, and it’s no longer a “nice to have” credential. Guests are explicitly looking at a brand’s green credentials whether that be energy-saving measures, waste reduction initiatives, using renewable resources, and engagement in community and environmental conservation efforts.
Technology is another game-changer in the hospitality industry. Nowadays, guests want seamless digital experiences and personalised services throughout their stay. This means offering features like mobile check-in/check-out, keyless entry systems, automated room controls, voice-activated devices, and customized recommendations based on data analysis.
Blended travel has become quite popular. It’s all about combining business and leisure elements during a trip, known as “bleisure” travel. Travellers now seek accommodations and services that cater to both work and relaxation. That includes flexible workspaces, high-speed internet access, meeting facilities, and recreational amenities. By providing a seamless blend of work and leisure experiences, we can meet the preferences of modern travellers and create memorable stays.
In the hospitality industry, how crucial is the correct pricing point in attracting and retaining customers?
While pricing is undoubtedly a significant factor in customer satisfaction and loyalty, excellent service plays a vital role in the decision-making process for potential guests.
We are committed to providing an exceptional guest experience, and to achieve this, we have taken significant steps to elevate our hospitality offerings. We have invested in several initiatives, starting with innovative design concepts for our brands. By creating modern and welcoming spaces, we aim to make our guests feel comfortable and at home during their stay. Moreover, we have embraced the power of technology to enhance every aspect of our operations and guest interactions. By implementing cutting-edge technology, we have streamlined our processes, ensuring our guests a seamless and efficient experience.
What difficulties come with maintaining a business hotel?
Maintaining a business hotel comes with its own set of challenges. Some difficulties include managing high occupancy levels, catering to diverse guest needs, and staying ahead of the competition. Business hotels often experience high demand, especially during peak seasons or when hosting conferences and events. This requires efficient operational management to ensure smooth check-ins, housekeeping, and food and beverage services.
Catering to diverse guest needs is another challenge. Business travellers have different requirements compared to leisure travellers. They often prioritise convenience, connectivity, and productivity. It is crucial to meet their expectations and ensure a seamless stay by providing the right amenities, such as well-equipped workspaces, reliable Wi-Fi, and efficient business support services.
Staying ahead of the competition is an ongoing challenge in the business hotel segment. The industry constantly evolves, with new hotels entering the market and emerging trends shaping guest preferences. It’s essential to continuously innovate, invest in technology, and stay updated with industry trends to differentiate ourselves and provide a competitive edge.
What opportunities and challenges lie ahead for hoteliers in the coming years?
Hoteliers will face both opportunities and challenges in the coming years. One significant opportunity is the increasing demand for personalised and unique experiences. Travellers are seeking authentic and immersive experiences, and hoteliers can capitalise on this trend by offering localised experiences, curated activities, and opportunities for cultural immersion.
Technology advancements can enhance guest experiences and improve efficiency, but sustainability and competition are challenges. Hoteliers must prioritise eco-friendly initiatives and offer unique value propositions to stand out from alternative accommodation platforms. Health and safety concerns are also important, so hotels must implement robust protocols to ensure a safe and secure environment.
What further developments can we expect from the brand?
Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA is committed to expanding its portfolio of properties in key locations, investing in technology to improve the guest experience, implementing eco-friendly initiatives and sustainable practices, and building partnerships and collaborations. Our goal is to provide exceptional guest experiences and remain at the forefront of the hospitality industry. Over 30 hotels are now under construction in the Middle East and Africa. Millennium Plaza Downtown Dubai, Millennium Downtown Abu Dhabi, Copthorne Downtown Abu Dhabi, and many others are among the new openings.