“We see it as an opportunity [to offer our guests something new]. Sure, we expect there will be some dilution of business from the Crowne Plaza, especially in the beginning because people always like to experience new thing. The two hotels are also part of the IHG Rewards programme, so people don’t mind trying out a new property as long as it’s within the same company,” he says.
Sutton is well aware of the competition the new hotel will pose to the existing Crowne Plaza and is not interested in poaching business. “The challenge is to not simply shift business from one hotel to the next. We will need to go out and tap into new business segments and this where being a four-star hotel opens up a lot of opportunities.”
In fact, he sees the new hotel taking off rather well in the wake of corporates cutting spending. “Some companies have decided not to utilise five-star properties anymore [for whom the Holiday Inn will make perfect sense]. The four-star hotel even targets those companies who could previously not afford the Crowne Plaza room rates.”
Sutton is also in early discussions with the owners to secure funds for renovation of the Crowne Plaza. “With the Holiday Inn opening, we are already in discussion with our owners for a potential soft refurbishment over the coming year. We are lucky that the hotel when built was of very high quality. Therefore, the condition of the hotel is good.”
A few F&B concepts will also get the refurb treatment at the Crowne Plaza, given the Holiday Inn will have its own set of outlets which Sutton wants to “complement rather than compete”. “There will be a focus on our food and beverage outlets and look into possibly refreshing some of the existing concepts, and drive some change to make sure there is a clear differentiating factor between them. We don’t want the hotels to compete with each other from a room’s perspective or from a food and beverage perspective,” he tells Hotelier Qatar.
With the FIFA World Cup less than six years away, Sutton believes he is working towards the next phase of his career. “It is the first time I have worked in a FIFA World Cup organising city and it would be interesting to see how far out they start the planning. We already have members from the world governing body visit the hotel, and the city in general, to take stock of all the infrastructure.”
Sutton signs off with some advice for those in hospitality who harbour hopes of running their own property someday. “You need to have a good work ethic in hospitality. The hours are long and it requires a lot of commitment but at the same time it is a rewarding job. Integrity is key for me; you need to make sure that you will do things in the right way, that includes everything from liaising with owners to managing the hotel, and most importantly, looking after your colleagues.”
“A lot of people work in the same hotel their entire career, but I will encourage people to travel and work in different countries and hotels, which will kind of give you a broader perspective and experience,” he concludes.