Travel agents are still a key sales channel in the UK for Rotana Hotels and Resorts despite the growing power of mobile devices as booking tools, according to chief operating officer Guy Hutchinson.
“While 25%-26% of our reservations are made by our guests on mobiles, Rotana is committed to working with key partners in the travel trade,” said Hutchinson.
"We have teamed up with Online Travel Training to create an e-learning programme for agents, and in the last nine months, 800 agents have completed the full course. The Love2Shop vouchers are a great incentive, and we hold fam trips nearly every six weeks to showcase our properties in Dubai, Oman, Doha, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. These include combined destinations and target tours. We also have an annual roadshow to keep key agents and travel management companies up to date with developments.”
Hutchinson said the hotel group is ahead of its target to have 100 hotels by 2020, with the opening of 15 properties throughout the remainder of this year and 2016, strengthening its position in Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The company will also be opening its first republic in the Democratic Republic of Cogno and its second property in the Jordanian capital of Ammam, which will be the city’s tallest tower.
Hutchinson said: “Sub-Saharan Africa is a booming destination from a business perspective but is under-served by the hospitality industry.”
Talking about the changing way in which clients book their travel, Hutchinson issued a word of warning to TMCs and large operators who fail to respond to the dynamic booking market: “Online travel agents are growing more than ever as they can evolve and adapt quickly; they are not held back by legacy reservations systems like the larger TMCs and tour operators are.
“The traditional TMCs face losing out to the OTAs as they are sharper and faster. We only have to look at the example of taxi-booking app Uber and its incredible global growth. The online arena is changing and shifting all the time and the travel industry has to do the same.”
Hutchinson also revealed that London is top of his wish list of gateway cities that he would like to see Rotana operating in over the next ten years.