Source: eKapija | Friday, 25.09.2015.| 11:10
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Olivier Si Tahar, GM at Holiday Inn Express Belgrade-City -Belgrade lacks more air flights and congress halls

Olivier Si Tahar
Belgrade has recently got another hotel and the first one funded with Swiss capital. In Ruzveltova street, Holiday Inn Express Belgrade – City opened and GM, Olivier Si Tahar, says in his interview for eKapija that projects cost were in the range of the average hotels within IHG group for this category and brand. From the idea of putting into operation six years passed but with the break of two years for some technical issues.

- So, effectively, everything lasted for four years. The project started in 2009 and we hosted guests in July this year. The capacity of Holiday Inn Express Belgrade – City is 123 rooms and we hired 22 people. I am very satisfied with the staff, these are all local staff – our collocutor says.

eKapija: What are your impressions like after almost three months of hotel operations?

- We have been operating for only the third month but we have started receiving the first guests’ comments and they are mainly satisfied with the hotel. They very much appreciate environment in the building, rooms and staff which is extremely significant in our business and for Holiday Inn Express is a huge advantage. I think 60 % of capacity would be good result for the hotel and we expect 50 and 60% for a start.

eKapija: What kind of guests do you expect? What are your main target groups for Holiday Inn Express?

- We expect business people, passengers who visit Belgrade for work as well as families.

(Belgrade’s Holiday Inn Express) eKapija: What are main features of Holiday Inn Express as a brand? Where is the position of the hotel within IHG group of brands?

- The basic idea of our brand is to do job “simply and smart” so that we focus on important aspects and we do them the best we can.

Our position within IHG group is somewhere in the middle and as for the competition I think we are closer to higher category ("up-scale").

eKapija: How do you estimate hotel industry in Belgrade?

- I think there are two groups of hotels, one old, well- known facilities which need renovation and interior fixing and on the other hand, there are many new hotels which are smaller but luxurious and developed with taste. Compared to other European cities, Belgrade has pretty good level as well as good ration of price and quality. I think capital of Serbia is even above average for standards of EU market.

eKapija: Having in mind a large number of new hotels lately, do you think market is crowded or there is room for new capacities?

A room at Holiday Inn Express Belgrade - City
– It seems market in our industry is a bit too big compared to current potential of the city and I think we should all put more efforts in promotion of Belgrade and attracting tourists and business people. We, for instance, during promotion of our hotels and services, always work on promotion of destination as well.

On the other hand, the city should develop infrastructure necessary for conferences and congresses, large business meetings since Belgrade now has reverse situation compared to let’s say Frankfurt or Barcelona. There is a lack of hotel capacities there while Belgrade at the moment has plenty of hotels but congress centers are not big enough. Most likely, it is necessary to work on development of airports and plane connections, introduce more direct flights.

eKapija: Are you satisfied with business environment in Belgrade?

- You have very trained and highly educated people. In Holiday Inn Express Belgrade – City, we succeeded in hiring talented and quality staff which is why we have good comments from guests. As for administration, I think administrative procedures could develop and simplify, also import procedures. It would most likely help in attracting foreign investors since it would facilitate business - Olivier Si Tahar concluded in his interview for eKapija.

Marko Andrejic

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