Marriott International will open nine hotels in the Middle East by 2004, raising the company’s presence in the region to 31 hotels, offering 8,978 rooms and four lodging brands in 10 countries. This represents a 30 percent regional expansion in hotels, and 22 percent increase in the number of rooms, over the year 2000.
Paul Malcom, regional vice president for sales and marketing noted that the company is eyeing several important regional markets such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
The company is planning to open the first Marriott Executive Apartments lodging in the region — a172-unit complex in Dubai — later this year. In Egypt, where Marriott International already operates four hotels, the company will open three more this year — a 425-room hotel in Cairo, a 310-room Taba resort on the Red Sea and a168-room hotel in Sharm Al-Shaikh.
Elsewhere in the region, Marriott International will add this year a 178-room Tunis Hotel, a 216-room resort at the Dead Sea in Jordan and a 100-room hotel in Petra, Jordan. A 150-room hotel is to open in Medinah, Saudi Arabia, in 2002, and a 300-room Aqaba resort in Jordan, will open in 2004.
Marriott experienced an increase of 33.24 percent in room nights booked from the region in 2000, said a Samir Daqqaq, vice president of Marriott Worldwide sales. “The increase in room nights is attributable to a number of factors. The Marriott name has a very high currency in the Middle East… Additionally, we are expanding the number of hotels in the region, so that adds a lot more appeal for travelers within the Middle East,” Daqqaq explained.
He added that they had been extremely active in marketing the Marriott brand. “We have been working hard at creating awareness of Marriott and developing a loyal customer base, through training travel agents with our Hotel Excellence Program, forming strategic partnerships, like Skywards with Emirates Airline, and encouraging repeat custom with our loyalty program, Marriott Rewards.”
He noted that over 40 percent of the regional Marriott Rewards members, the guest loyalty program, were coming from Saudi Arabia. The Hotel Excellence training program for travel agents, launched less than two years ago, has over 1,400 certified agents in the region. He added that another important sales vehicle for Marriott were the GDS (Global Distribution System) and the toll-free numbers, through which travel agents can book Marriott hotels directly.
Marriott International is a leading worldwide hospitality company with over 2,300 operating units in the United States and 59 other countries and territories. The company is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has approximately 154,000 employees. In fiscal year 2000, Marriott International reported sales of $19.8 billion. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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