'Controlled Growth' at Rotana: Exclusive Interview with the President and CEO.
Friday, 7th March 2014
Source : Louise Osborne ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
A leading hotel management company with properties in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe, Rotana is looking to 'aggressively' expand its brand increasing from the current 50 open hotels to 100 by 2020.

The most recent hotel to open under Rotana management was Salalah on March 1 and there will be another seven opening before the end of the year.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryOmer Kaddouri (right), new president and CEO of Rotana since January spoke exclusively to 4Hoterliers.com from the company's stand at ITB Berlin about the expansion plans.

You've been working at Rotana since 1998. What has changed since then?

It's changed a lot since I first started. Then we had only six hotels and now we have 50 and another 50 to be developed. When you start with six hotels and then that becomes 10 to 15 to 20, the company has to develop itself and its infrastructure to be able to handle that kind of business.

Being in a position where you can be part of the development of a hotel chain is not something that everyone gets to do in their lifetime. I have been very fortunate to be part of the company since 1998.

In January, you became president and CEO of Rotana. What new challenges do you think that will present to you?

I don't see it as presenting challenges; I see it as presenting opportunities. I think we've had lots of challenges to get to where we are today; opening new hotels in new destination and making sure all our systems are in place so we can operate professionally.

Those are challenges that we've been through over the years and I see myself in a position full of opportunity to assist and develop the company further in new locations around the world.

I think I am lucky to be in a position to try with the colleagues I have to take Rotana on to the global platform. That's our aim and ambition, while opening 10 hotels each year which you could call a challenge. It's not easy but we have a great team that's used to opening so many hotels, so we feel moving forward that it's going to be fine.

How are you driving such an ambitious programme to have 100 hotels open by 2020?

We've done nothing quickly with the company; everything we've done has been in a controlled manner. I think companies that try to grow too quickly can make mistakes along the way and then they have to retract.

Our growth has been controlled growth and I think that will remain for the next couple of years, but our plans are to be a much bigger company. Being prepared to have 100 hotels will really be what my main task will be.

What makes Rotana different?

The size of the company allows us to be more focused, engaged and involved with our guests and our owners. We have the ability to reach out and touch our stakeholders a bit more than multinationals that are managing 3-4,000 hotel rooms. That's the feedback that I get from a lot of owners who feel we're closer to them. We're very approachable and when we sign a hotel for an owner and sign an agreement for 15 years, it's as if the hotel belongs to Rotana.

Also, a lot of our hotels are regional, so all in an area we know. We've working in the area and come from the area, so we have a very strong regional reach both commercially and by reputation.

You're based primarily in the Middle East, where are you hoping to move Rotana into?

We opened two new hotels last year, one in Iraq and our first hotel in Bahrain. We are opening for the first time in Turkey this year and we've signed hotels in Iran, which should be opening by 2015-16. Africa is a big target market for us and very soon we'll be announcing properties there and India has been a hot spot for us over the past couple of years.

Will we have a hotel in Australia, in the U.S. and Europe? I'd say we will, but it's not the highest target on our agenda.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
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Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.

Besides the ITB Berlin 2014 live coverage, Louise also writes a weekly exclusive column for

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