“Nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in a hospitality operation.”
Date: June, 2018

Continuing the series of interviews with General Managers of hotels around the UAE, this issue we talk to Ashfaq Sheikh, General Manager, Citymax Hotel Sharjah and Citymax Hotel RAK.

Ashfaq Sheikh was designated as the Hotel Manager of Citymax Hotel Sharjah way back in 2013 – after which he was eventually promoted to General Mannager. “It was a great opportunity that came knocking on my door, and I grabbed it with both hands. My passion for hospitality and dedication have helped me do complete justice to this job.” With a career spanning over 22 years, Sheikh has always focused on the guest and ensures that high standards of service are maintained and guest expectations are exceeded. “I cherish spearheading my team, setting high standards, delegating work and setting up revenue targets. I feel motivated by leading a team and helping each member grow. As a result, I have been able to develop a management plan that helps us reach for success. The overall aim is to broaden my horizons & increase my competence in the hospitality industry.”

Leading the team

As a General Manager, Sheikh is responsible for consistently delivering results that contribute to the mission and overall success of the hotel by accomplishing performance objectives linked to develop business revenues, improving business effectiveness and efficiencies also creating value for money for each and every guest by offering high standards in hotel’s products and services. His responsibilities include, productivity, customer and client relations, professionalism, revenue management, financial management, people management, leadership, quality management, communication, and safety and security.

View on housekeeping

According to Sheikh, the housekeeping department takes pride in keeping the hotel clean and comfortable, so as to create a ‘home away from home’ experience for every guest. “The aim of our establishment is to provide each guest with clean, attractive, comfortable and welcoming surroundings that offer value for money. Nothing sends a stronger message than cleanliness in a hospitality operation.” No level of service, friendliness or glamour can equal the sensation a guest has upon entering a spotless, tidy and conveniently arranged room. Both management and guest agree that keeping the place clean and in a good order is a necessity for a hotel to command a fair price and get repeat business. Housekeeping, thus, is an ancillary department that contributes in a big way towards the overall reputation of a property.

The importance of sustainability

Sustainability is now an essential ingredient for a company's long-term success.Sustainability is an issue confronting all businesses today no matter their size or place in the market. Increasingly, businesses are finding that embracing sustainable practices leads to better corporate culture, more reliable products and greater long-term profitability. Sheikh says, “Leaders of major corporations worldwide are increasingly facing the challenge of managing organizations that meet the expectations of a broad range of stakeholders. Social policies include diversity and equalopportunity targets, work-life balance, health and safety improvement, and favoring internal promotion. We need to develop and manage hotel properties that provide the best guest experiences possible and yield sustainable profits for our valuable guests.”

Outlook on cleaning & hygiene

Good hygienic procedures and processes are vital for any hospitality organization in providing a clean and safe environment, which leaves guests satisfied and willing to return; it also helps to create a great guest experience. Housekeeping is responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public area, back area and surroundings. A hotel survives on the sale of room, food, beverages and other minor services such as the laundry, etc. The sale of rooms constitutes a minimum of 70 per cent of these sales. Thus, the major part of the hotel’s margin of profit comes from the room sales, because a room once made can be sold over and over again. The effort that a housekeeping department makes in giving a guest a desirable room has a direct bearing on the guest’s experience in a hotel. Guestrooms are the heart of the hotel. Today or in the future, clean & hygienic guestroom on a timely basis for arriving guest and also ensuring that the property is as fresh and attractive as the day it opened for business is crucial for its existence.

Challenges, activities and outcomes

Effective market segmentation is the key to successful revenue management for hotels. Market segmentation begins with seasonal demand. For years, hoteliers recognized that almost all hotels experience periods of high and low demand. Revenue or yield management has been one of the easy tasks, which is the process of regulating the rates as per the demand, however, hotels have a fixed inventory of rooms to sell; these rooms are also extremely perishable. Hence growing competition and unsold inventory still remains one of the biggest challenges for any hotel business.

Future accomplishments

My target to be accomplished within the next year is the following:

• Good revenue for upcoming Financial Year
• Meeting the stakeholder’s expectations
• Setting up higher standards and targets
• Successful opening of Citymax RAK
• Successful business with a successful team