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Friday, 15 April 2016 15:00

We see the increase in the number of guests arriving - General Manager of Grand Hotel Europe Kemal Eratay Featured

About the company: Welcome to the Grand Hotel Europe - one of the major landmarks of the city, with a wonderful view to the Caspian Sea. The hotel offers 96 well decorated spacious Deluxe Guest Rooms and Suites, most of them having a marvelous view to the Caspian Sea.

The hotel guests will be impressed by the quality and variety of the international and national specialties served in Caviar restaurant, Caspian Bar, Capones Nightclub, Olympus Health Club.

 

 

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Eratay, reforms are now conducted in Azerbaijan to improve the doing business environment. Which prospects do you, as a hotel business representative, see in it?

Kemal Eratay, General Manager of Grand Hotel Europe: First, I would like to highlight that the historical past and culture of Azerbaijan make it a very interesting country for tourism in the region.

Today the history and the past of the country are well represented in foreign countries. We should continue to promote our historical values, our geographical location, friendliness and hospitality of the nation, as well as the way in which foreign visitors are treated. I believe that if continued, this work will boost even greater development of the tourism sector in Azerbaijan.

In this regard I would like to focus on one point. The online visa process system has contributed notably to the development of the sector. We learnt from our guests that now people do not waste time in embassies and consulates, they get visas and freely enter the country through the online visa process system.

Like in other areas of the non-oil sector, in the tourism sector there are no barriers for its development. Improved quality and service standards ensure that every guest, who enters our country, will leave it satisfied. In Grand Hotel Europe, we together with our staff are committed to offering the top level service to each guest, who arrives in the country, as if he visited our own home. We do our best to meet service-related wishes and expectations of our in-house guests, be it lunch, breakfast, expectations regarding service in hotel suits, and we know how to meet these demands. This in what we keep in mind when send our staff to serve clients. Nowadays it is the case for not only our hotel, it is happening as a result of the positive effects from the development across in the entire tourism sector. We do not stop thinking about how to meet the demands of guests visiting Azerbaijan. When they return home, they bring with them only positive feelings about the country, and we feel it in the comments about the quality of services provided.

 

CE: You as a business representative are interested in the development of the tourism sector. Your development is associated with the development of the country and additional revenues to the budget. What else, do you believe, is necessary for a further development of the sector?

Kemal Eratay: The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan is taking a number of measures required to boost the development of the tourism sector. It organises large events in different countries to inform foreign tourists about the beauty of the country, about firms and hotel groups working here. It is very important. Moreover, the government organises various activities in Azerbaijan. The First European Games have become a success story, and now the country is going to host Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe and the Islamic Games. These events are crucial for raising awareness of Azerbaijan in the world. And in the coming years all organisations should work closely together to ensure international congresses, health forums and economic forums are hosted in Azerbaijan. This will help Azerbaijan to develop tourism. I believe in the future awareness of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is not only Baku. There are large sports complexes in Shahdagh, which are a good place to host winter games. In terms of awareness and development of tourism, it is important to host economic and political summits. As a result, the budget will receive additional revenues. After all, each tourist spends money. I think every guest who arrives in Azerbaijan makes a contribution to the development of tourism. In this regard, a special focus should be on the congress tourism.

 

CE: How did the devaluation affect the situation in the market? Did it increase the number of tourists?   

Kemal Eratay: For guests coming from abroad it is a significant factor, favourable for them. We see the increase in the number of guests arriving. I would also like to note that the hotel has not raised the prices. We, like in the previous years, offer our suites at old prices. But visitors coming from abroad with foreign currency feel the difference. Thus, the number of tourists is increasing. Actually, by keeping prices the same we aspire to increase the turnover.

Answering your question, I can say that all hotels are now feeling the influx of tourists.

 

CE: Which countries dominate in the structure of the growing inflow of tourists in Azerbaijan?

Kemal Eratay: Mainly, these are tourists from the Gulf countries, such as Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai). Moreover, the inflow of tourists from Iran and Iraq has been increasingly growing recently. Now we are experiencing the period when these visitors tell their friends about Azerbaijan and invite them to our country.

 

CE: As you already mentioned Baku already hosted large events. No the country is going to welcome Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe and many from different corners of the world are expected to visit it. How are you preparing for this event?

Kemal Eratay: The First European Games have equipped us with the great experience in the run-up to Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe. Last year, on the eve of the First European Games we changed the design of the hotel suites. Today, both in terms of readiness of the hotel and staff, we see that our hotel is ready to meet expectations of guests. Guests, who choose Hotel Europe as their place of stay during Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe in Baku, are expected to be embraced by maximum comfort and enjoy the top level service.

Like in the run-up to the Games, prior to F1 we are planning some innovations in the hotel rooms. To do this, we are making some changes in the design, carrying out repair work. We rectify the shortcomings we see. Some changes will be made in the design of baths and suites. This work will be performed in the shortest possible time. Our goal, like during the First European Games, is to see off satisfied guests.

 

CE: You have touched upon the important matter of prices. Do you withstand competition in this segment?

Kemal Eratay: We have kept the prices the same, since there is a strong price competition among hotels. Many new hotels have been built in Baku in recent years. However Grand Hotel Europe is the first five-star hotel in the capital. The hotel has a 25-year history. It is hard to compete with new hotels. But, despite this, we have kept the level and quality of services from the past, developed our own standards and accumulated the extensive experience. As for prices, they are more affordable compared to new hotels, and we offer discounts for regular customers.

 

CE: What innovations does the hotel plan to introduce in the long-term run?

Kemal Eratay: We do have projects, and highly prioritise the factor of customer satisfaction.

The 25-year long activity is the advantage. This gives the hotel a great value. Our guests enter into the hotel's history. The hotel has a unique aura. Rooms and balconies are very spacious. Windows and balconies give us advantages compared to new hotels.

Even renovation is carried out without affecting the hotel's historic aura. We have fixed the problem of the very old hotel elevators installed in 1995. After the repair they look considerably modernised, elevators are now automatic. But the elevator cars were kept unchanged, since we wanted to preserve the aura of 1995. The same applies to our rooms - we carry out repairs, albeit keeping the aura of the hotel unchanged. Our Caviar restaurant underwent renovation. Certain repairs were carried out in the Olympus health and spa centre, where we replaced the old fitness machines with new ones.

We renovated our sauna, brought it in a better shape using the brand-new equipment and materials. This improves the customer service standard.

 

CE: Which works are performed to improve the quality of service provided?

Kemal Eratay: As I mentioned, last year we renewed the assortment of buffet breakfast, increased the availability of different products. Now it is breakfast and lunch. We serve breakfast amid the trees on our terrace called Cam Balkon. In summer months we open the windows, guests enjoy the open air. In winter the spa system protects from feeling cold. Guests like it, and we see it from feedback of our customers.

 

Interview made by Jeyhun Bayramov, Olga Nagiyeva

 

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