Make your hotel known and the word will spread: Mohamed Soussan
Mohamed Soussan, Group General Manager at Ayla Hotels & Resorts.
Being an emerging brand is a constant challenge which can only be overcome by those who persevere and build a strong reputation, says Mohamed Soussan, Group General Manager at Ayla Hotels & Resorts.
A new brand wants two things: to survive and to grow. To do this, the key factors are being seen and becoming known. Currently, this is Ayla Hotels’ focus.
Founded in the city of Al Ain in 2011, Ayla Hotels is a growing brand quickly making a name for itself in the hospitality industry.
Mohamed Soussan, Group General Manager at Ayla Hotels & Resorts represented the group at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Dubai and shared his experience of being with Ayla Hotels from the company’s very beginning.
Facing challenges on new projects
Soussan: We are currently working on two projects that are meant to expand our portfolio on two continents. One of them is set in the historic town of Ibri in Oman and the second one is in Djibouti, Africa.
The Ibri project will have a total of 74 rooms and the one in Djibouti will reach 220. The challenges are different at each hotel. The Ibri hotel is moving along slowly because we need to ensure we have Omani employees as per the legal quota. Djibouti is delayed because of other legal requirements we need to fulfil. This makes it challenging to meet deadlines, but we are going to get there.
The importance of hotel events for brand growth
Soussan: Since we are a local chain from the Emirates, competing with the big names isn’t the easiest thing but we never give up. We are determined to grow and expand, and we are doing this via the projects we have underway. We know we have to put in a lot of effort constantly if we want to be profitable.
That is why we are here at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR. We believe that attending top hotel industry events, ATMS and hotel shows will help us get to know our colleagues and having different contacts will make people talk about us. In other words, my main message for local brands which want to grow bigger and don’t know how: make yourself known and the word will be spread.
From an investment company to a growing hotel brand
Soussan: Ayla Hotels was born 9 years ago as an investment company based in Al Ain. The investment company started by developing the livestock market. The hotel chain itself was launched in 2010. We named it Ayla after the moon since Ayla in Arabic means “the face of the moon” and we want to reflect real hospitality.
As we started growing, the owners thought: Let’s create our own hotel. That was the moment when I joined and presented a new chain where Ayla acted as co-founder, together with the owner and the managing director. As we laid down our ideas, we finally came up with our first four-star hotel. The first Ayla Hotel was opened in 2011 in downtown Al Ain and it was so successful, the owner decided to open another one.
We opened another four-star hotel called Ayla Bawadi Hotel which started off with 90 rooms, and we kicked off so well, we decided to move to five-star properties. From that moment onwards, we started working and discussing what sort of concept we wanted our five-star hotel to have and in 2017 we finally opened the Ayla Grand Hotel. We believe we are a simple brand, but with this hotel we thought it should be next to or inside a mall. Like that the concept is: shop, stay and sleep.
Thoughts on TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR
Soussan: I’ve attended many events similar to the TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR, but I think this one is more concentrated, and you have enough time to discuss things. It’s not too crowded and you have enough time to share your input with your partners or your stockholders which makes it easy to get what you want immediately.
And, of course, diversity is a must. I have to congratulate TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR because they have a varied audience including everyone from hotel operators to creative designers and more. So, well done! I’m looking forward to attending more of these events in the future.
Mohamed Soussan was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Dubai 2019. To attend, address or sponsor our boutique hospitality networking events around the world, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.