Dubai concierge service has room to grow, say F&B experts

The topic was brought up during the panel discussion on developing Dubai as a culinary destination at Caterer Food & Business Conference 2018
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Panel discussion on developing Dubai as a culinary destination.
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Panel discussion on developing Dubai as a culinary destination.

The group of panellists at the Caterer Food & Business Conference 2018 discussed the topic of concierge services in Dubai and need for its growth and improvement in the coming years. The panel discussion centred on developing Dubai as a culinary destination.

When panel moderator Sanjay Murthy, co-founder and managing director of Figjam, brought up the topic of hotel concierges being an invaluable resource to tourists, Emma Banks, GM at Jumeirah Restaurant Group, asserted that she has often heard from sources that concierges often never recommend restaurants not affiliated with hotels that employ them.

To this, co-panellist Joey Ghazal, founder and managing partner at The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill and  Barbary Deli + Cocktail Club, agreed with Banks adding: "Around two years ago, during the international Clef d’Or conference held in Dubai (April 2016), many of my colleagues, who are concierges, who flew down from London and Montreal commented that there is a lot of room for growth when it comes to concierge services in Dubai.”

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In Montreal, Canada for example, Ghazal said all the hotels share a common network of information that talks about what’s happening in the city. “We don’t have anything like that here – what festivals are happening, what promotion and activations are happening, etc.,” Ghazal added.

“Being a concierge, it’s really an institution. They are a small network but they need to be empowered. They need to be made to understand that this is a very critical job, promoting Dubai as a tourism destination and they need to have a shared network of resources,” Ghazal said, referring to the Dubai’s current concierge services.

“It’s not about the hotel that they work for, it’s about the profession and what it means to be a concierge – and I don’t think we are there yet,” Ghazal noted.

Director of operations at Bulldozer Group Middle East, Mirzo Hafizov, however, countered Ghazal’s statement and added that recently, his company created a new position titled concierge relations manager to improve the services.

“We established the relationship and incentivised the entire concierge UAE supply – and it worked with some of our restaurants and the booking are at 30-40%. And that’s because we committed to incentivise. So we have a WhatsApp group with all the concierges and deals with the manager who is available on the phone 24/7, so I think we have to build the relationship,” Hafizov asserted.

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