By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad
With a quarter century’s experience in the hotel industry, Constantinos S Gavriel’s career has taken him from the UK to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Moscow and Kazakhstan, and finally to Bangladesh in 2017 as the general manager of Le Meridien Dhaka. This month, he sits down with MWB for a quick chat.
The two pandemic years we’ve just passed through have made their effects felt throughout the world. The hospitality industry has been hard hit but has also pivoted to make some lasting changes. Could you walk us through some of the measures taken by Le Méridien Dhaka to adapt to the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has affected every sector across the globe and among all, the hardest hit was the hotel industry. In the emergence of Covid-19, the primary focus was safety for all people. To defend against the health risk, our business was completely shut off for 5 months. During this time, we had to let go of many of our dearest colleagues. We had to encounter a helpless situation and truth be told, in my entire career this was the toughest time. However, after a complete shutdown for several months, we re-opened our services and worked hard in the recovery stage. The entire post-pandemic culture and services were new to us and adapting to the changes was not easy at all. We had to implement many new technologies and strategies to reduce health hazards. Being the Marriott property, Le Méridien Dhaka followed complete guidelines that have been established worldwide for all the 7500+ Marriott properties. Even now we are taking extensive measures for cleanliness, maintaining social distancing, and emphasizing hygiene. We are yet on the road to recovery but optimistic with the growing demand of international travelers and local guests.
How has the present scenario of rising dollar prices impacted the market here? What steps is Le Méridian Dhaka taking?
With the current market scenario and change in inflation rate, it has a huge impact globally. Mostly, the reaction is coming from the international travelers. Due to this, the overall hotel business is evaluating the monetary values and taking the necessary strategies to offer a comforting service for our valuable guests.
This has had a big effect on our day-to-day business. Adjusting the prices is not so easy while keeping the guest happy is our top priority. Hence, our loyalty team is facing overwhelming challenges to maintain a good understanding with our international travelers. On the other hand, being a luxury hotel, we must ensure premium products. Therefore, every month we invest a big amount of money for importing top notch products around the world. Our Finance and Purchasing team are putting tremendous effort to keep a settlement between the rising dollar rate and good products. All I can say let’s be hopeful for a stable market both for happy business and protecting the commitment towards our guests.
What are your hopes and plans for the franchise for the next few months?
I am spending an exhilarating time working for the leading hotel in Bangladesh. This country has an unlimited potential when more and more five-star properties are opening up. Le Méridien Dhaka was established in 2015 and since then, the hotel has enjoyed phenomenal success. Although Covid-19 has shaken the tourism industry, I am also confident that in a few years this industry will be a boom in this country. Marriott has shown a great interest to open many more properties in Asia Pacific including Bangladesh. Saying that, our owning company Best Holdings Limited has already signed for two more Marriott properties and infrastructure work has already been started. I believe the young talents will take this industry to the next level in the upcoming years and thus the unemployment rate will be decreased. As mentioned before, the tourism industry is still new to many hence, I will be asking the new generations to explore the hospitality business. This industry is exciting, and the benefits are lucrative. Therefore, I invite the brilliant young minds to explore our internship program and try to gain the real-life adventure of this industry.
You’ve been with us, and with LM for quite some time now. What is your favorite part of the job?
My main attraction working with LM is relishing the vibrant culture of Bangladesh. The people of this country are best known for hospitality. They have simply inherited the suitable personality to serve the guests. Since my joining I had the opportunity to get to know some outstanding individuals who have been working with LM since its opening. My colleagues consider LM as their second home and together we all are working for a shining future of this hotel. The best thing about us is that “in good or bad” we all are together. This is my most favorite part seeing the team bonding of my colleagues. We believe we all are equal and together we can achieve better.
Do you have a message for the readers of MWB?
Through this platform, I would like to invite the readers to our hotel to experience the consistent guest service that we promise to deliver. Meet my team members, who are dedicatedly working to ensure a wow experience for you. I can assure you will have a luxurious adventure.
Also, I would like to add, for me travelling is always the best thing that helps me to find myself. I learned a lot through travelling, and it helped me to create meaningful relationships with my thoughts. So readers, I highly recommend you to travel as much as possible to enhance your personal growth.