René D. Egle, Area General Manager, Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat and Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, Muscat believes that Oman has a vast unexplored tourism potential which can work magic in the Indian market. In a conversation with Hospitality Biz Egle reveals his plans and strategies for the market.
What is your strategy to target the Indian market?
India has great potential not only for Shangri-la but Oman as a destination, and this is why we have identified India as a key market of opportunity for us.
Our strategy to target the Indian market is two-fold. The first one is to drive awareness for Oman which is still a surprise as to how little the Indian market knows about the destination given the proximity and the fact that there are numerous direct flights to Mumbai and New Delhi daily.
The second strategy is through direct engagements with B2B MICE and Wedding organisers that include visiting India with product and information workshops about Oman as a destination and very importantly an invitation to visit the property first-hand.
How different will be your outreach activities for B2B vis-à-vis consumers?
There are certain aspects and challenges that are the same for B2B customers and FIT customers when it comes to the Indian market such as the lack of awareness of Oman as a destination, the proximity to India and the great flight connectivity that exists. Therefore, the overall objectives are the same but the approaches are slightly different for our B2B partners. We start engaging with them by introducing ourselves either directly or through an introduction via a partner, such as our recent client event with Purple Oman, Island Group and EXP.
Since many of the B2B partners in India are new to the destination therefore we prefer to meet and engage with them personally through sales missions to the country by senior management to introduce the properties and extend an invitation to visit. Our activities for B2B partners are designed for them to personally experience the resort, its varied venues and its facilities which will enable them to share the experience in the resort rather than trying to ‘sell’.
We are confident that we have a very unique offering for the Indian market, something new and experiential that one wouldn’t find in other popular destinations.
What number of Indian guests do you receive every year and what are your plans for India?
We had a healthy increase in guests from India, mainly Weddings and MICE groups from 2018 to 2019 by over 500 room nights.
As India is one of our key markets we continue to focus on India as it has immense potential for us.
Which segment of travellers are your key areas of focus in India?
At the moment we are focusing on Weddings, MICE (stopovers on the way to and from UK & Europe) and Luxury FITs.
What are your major revenue streams and how have they grown?
The major revenue streams of the hotel are rooms, events and F&B.
We did have healthy growth in 2019 for most of our key revenue streams based on the prevailing sales strategies but of course, all this eroded during Covid. The growth since the reopening of the country has been slow with flight connectivity still far down on what we had in 2019. Therefore, we are focusing on diversifying our market segmentation to drive the opening of new markets with growth potential such as India
You have recently introduced the LUBAN spa at your property. How have guests responded to that proposition?
Luban is Arabic and means Frankincense’ and the Luban Spa that we have opened is only one part of a brand-new set of luxury experiences that we offer for guests to learn more about the Omani Culture. We have received fantastic feedback on the spa, fragrances, methodology of treatments and most of all the history. We are now in the process of changing our L’Occiatane bathroom amenities in Al Husn to Luban.
These luxury experiences fall under our Project Turath which means ‘heritage’ and includes Omani art, culture and heritage. The focus on Frankincense is part of this and will cover all possible experiences such as Frankincense Plantation in cooperation with Luban, Frankincense Butler, Frankincense – Health & Beauty, Frankincense – Culinary & Beverage, Frankincense – Heritage & History and Frankincense – Retail.