Exclusive Interviews with Hotel Experts

Date: 2024-03-05

Navigating the Industry

Navigating the Industry: Frank Naboulsi on Crucial Industry Matters


The Vice President of Operations at Accor Egypt and the General Manager of Fairmont Nile City, Frank Naboulsi, is a seasoned leader in the hospitality sector. With a distinguished career at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Naboulsi has held key positions, including General Manager at notable establishments like Fairmont Dallas and Fairmont Palliser in Calgary. His extensive background encompasses roles in Sales & Marketing, marked by a series of accolades, such as the WHERE Dallas Magazine’s Silver Plume Award and the Best General Manager in Egypt award by Haute Grandeur. In our interview, we had the privilege of tapping into Naboulsi's wealth of experience, engaging in discussions on pivotal subjects within the industry, providing a straightforward and insightful examination, and delving into Naboulsi's viewpoints on crucial industry matters without unnecessary embellishments.

Ensuring Consistent Standards

How do you ensure a consistent standard of service and presentation that exceeds guests' needs and expectations?

It is essential as a hotel to ensure that the standards are top of mind of every single colleague in our hotel. Secondly, to continue providing orientation and training on all standards. Also, have the LQA ensure that they commit an audit in the hotel at least twice a year to make sure that the standards are being followed that the procedures are being applied, and that the colleague engagement with the guest is on top of notch. So this is how we maintain our standards.

Community Engagement

What inspired you to take on leadership roles in organizations like the Rotary Club and the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau?

As a leader in the hospitality industry especially when you enter in areas of supporting and giving back to the community and the city that you live in, it is essential that you devote some of your time to help support the community and people in need. And the Rotary Club was one of the organizations where we did a lot of work to help build the business environment in the city. And, of course, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau is a critical component for us to promote the city, the state, and the country where we can bring international business to Dallas and all hotels. Plus, the national conventions that attend Dallas. We had a lot of things to offer, and we had to work together as a community and as leaders. And one of the things that they ask for is for those who have the potential to provide services and leadership should step forward and help.

Resource Allocation

How do you adjust resource allocation during seasonal shifts, such as prioritizing destinations like Gouna or other popular spots based on the time of year?

In Egypt, it is unique because we have the Upper Egypt area, where in the summertime, it is really unbearable to be in, and the business there is minimal. So, we at Accor, as the most prominent hotel company in Egypt at the present time, utilize some of the talents we have at those hotels. Then we take them to areas such as the Red Sea and city center hotels where they can assist their colleagues. Because, they really understand the system and the company standards, so no need to train new people, and they know how to exceed expectations. So, we utilize their efforts and resources to help us in several areas.

Incorporating Technology

With the rise of technology in the hospitality sector, how do you leverage innovations like artificial intelligence or contactless services to enhance guest experiences and streamline operations?

Technology is evolving daily; however, we do our utmost to ensure we keep up as much as possible with the technology. For example, the hotel’s guest rooms that we have can be accessed through a smartphone instead of standing at the front desk and getting the key. However, we are working closely with our IT department in our hotel and our corporate office to make sure that we avoid any mistakes in the guest accessing the room when somebody else is in it, so we still have some tweaking to do, and it is essential for us to maintain and elevate that. However, I also need to say that in the hospitality industry, it is necessary to be hospitable and engaging with the guests, so we don’t want to miss that opportunity. so it can’t be just the guest arriving at the hotel, going to the room, and accessing it through the mobile without connecting with any of our colleagues; this isn’t hospitality. Hence, it needs to be a mix of both connecting and technology.

Crisis Management

In today's unpredictable world, crisis management is crucial. How has Accor Egypt refined its crisis response strategies, and what lessons have been learned from recent global challenges?

As we all know, the entire world is going through a crisis, and today’s society is becoming challenging to predetermine the incident before it happens. However, it is essential to make sure that all of our colleagues are being provided training and being very cautious when they notice suspicious activity. As you know, every day you turn on the news, there is a security breach or a security issue, so we can teach them to make sure that we are fully aware. But still, we need to be always ready and adaptable to any crisis and act accordingly.

Future Plans and Aspirations

What are your key priorities and goals for Accor Egypt in the coming years?

We have got pillars that we are working on. One of them is to be the leader hotel in Egypt, to continue to invest in and diversify our colleagues, to be socially committed to the community and sustainability as well, and last but not least, to provide employment and future investment in the country.

Role of Accor in Hospitality

How do you envision the future of the hospitality industry, and what role do you see Accor playing in that?

The future of hospitality is, in my view, solid; the world is in the position to continue to travel to enjoy the environment that we have around the world, but also, at the same time, we have to be very cautious because new locations such as the Caribbean, and Asia are coming up with very unique and exotic destinations, so in Egypt, we need to be very ready where we can set up and create new concepts to attract new business to this country and to also enhance our infrastructure in terms of the existing beautiful mystique and also historic sites that we have. We can’t sit back and wait for people to come; we have to be proactive in getting the attention of the country by creating new ventures.



Between the Lines: An Exclusive Interview with Magdi Gamil


Currently serving as the Hotel Manager at Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Magdi Gamil is a prominent figure in the hospitality field, boasting an illustrious career spanning over 18 years. Starting his professional odyssey in 2003 at Concord El Salam, Gamil swiftly climbed the ranks, showcasing a rare blend of dedication and adeptness. His tenure at Starwood Hotels further honed his expertise in sales and marketing, setting the stage for an impactful entry into the Fairmont Hotels group in 2008. Consistently recognized for his outstanding performance and leadership, with various accolades and multiple prestigious awards. Gamil showcases a keen eye for business, exceptional leadership, and an unwavering passion for the hospitality industry. He Properties had the pleasure of interviewing Gamil as we conversed with him to glean profound insights into critical subjects that resonate within hospitality.

Evolving Industry Dynamics

How has the industry evolved during your career, and how have you adapted to these changes?

The hospitality landscape saw a significant shift post-COVID. Historically, Egyptian hotels prioritized upgrading their physical structures, with some chains emphasizing service enhancements. Since 2002, new luxury brands have entered the Egyptian market, but perfecting the guest experience remained elusive. At Fairmont Nile City, however, our focus changed post-pandemic to prioritize the intricate journey of guest experiences. While maintaining top-notch infrastructure is crucial, I've stressed the significance of engaging guests' senses—what they see, hear, and smell. Achieving this involved extensive training and role-playing to ensure our team could adapt. Our emphasis lies in catering to guests' unique preferences, authenticity, and profiles, moving beyond standard practices or mere beautification of hardware.

Enhancing Guest Experience

What initiatives or changes have you implemented at Fairmont Nile City Hotel that have positively impacted the guest experience and overall property success?

We've established specialized teams to enhance guest experiences across various aspects of our hotel services. For instance, within our F&B department, we've formed a dedicated beverage team comprising baristas, mixologists, bartenders, and sommeliers, each focused on meeting guests' unique preferences. In guest accommodations, we've introduced the guest escorting in the guest accommodations team, ensuring a seamless transition from arrival to room. Currently, we're working on implementing in-room check-in for added convenience. Our Fairmont Gold executive floor has been elevated to rival the first-class exterior leading airlines, surpassing industry-standard lounge amenities and room features. Additionally, our quality assurance team, segmented into rooms, F&B, and other areas, continuously monitors and evaluates performance to address any guest concerns at their root cause, ensuring consistently high standards throughout the hotel.

Balancing Tradition and Modern Trends

How do you balance maintaining the hotel's traditional charm with incorporating modern hospitality trends?

At Fairmont, we're committed to embracing the authentic local culture, and our hotel embodies the distinctive Art Deco style, blending it seamlessly with the genuine warmth of our colleagues and the renowned hospitality of Egypt. As part of our traditional approach, we infuse iconic cuisines with Egyptian ingredients, offering guests a taste of our rich culture. Even in our authentic Egyptian dishes, we add a contemporary twist to the ingredients, enhancing flavors through our culinary expertise, creating a unique dining experience that celebrates tradition and innovation.

Adapting to Post-Pandemic Realities

After the global pandemic, what strategies has Fairmont Nile City Hotel implemented to adapt to changing customer expectations and ensure a safe and seamless guest experience?

The pandemic has undeniably heightened global awareness about hygiene and safety practices, and destinations like Egypt have benefited significantly from the collaboration of organizations like the WHO and various companies in educating and training our colleagues on these crucial matters. While the financial impact has been worldwide, the pandemic has also raised awareness about the importance of social distancing and hygiene practices. We've capitalized on this awareness, elevating our hotel's safety standards to a level where we can confidently cater to guests of all nationalities and needs. By seizing the opportunity presented by the COVID period, we've enhanced our training, expanded our teams, and were among the first hotels to embrace and implement the "back to normal" culture. This proactive approach positioned us as one of the few establishments in the region ready to resume business when the time came. Additionally, we've invested in renewing our equipment, chinaware, cutlery, and uniforms, ensuring a fresh and thoroughly prepared environment for our guests.

Engaging with the Community

In the age of social media and digital communication, how does Fairmont Nile City Hotel engage with the local community and broader audience, and how has this engagement evolved with technological advancements?

We foster vibrant connections with the local community and a wider audience through robust social media and digital engagement. Our approach involves actively participating on popular platforms, facilitating two-way communication for feedback and inquiries, partnering with influencers, and promoting user-generated content. By actively engaging with and integrating with the local community, we've strengthened our hotel's bond with stakeholders, fostering a more dynamic, inclusive, and tailored experience. This strategy enhances our brand reputation and boosts customer satisfaction by providing a more interactive and personalized interaction.

Future Plans and Aspirations

What are your plans and aspirations within the hospitality industry?

We're transitioning to cloud-based systems across various divisions, with plans to integrate them with guest profiles. Additionally, we're implementing a guest room management system, allowing guests to control and manage their stay using their mobile devices, including an express check-in and check-out process and a keyless entry experience. These technological advancements aim to provide guests with seamless access to all their needs during their stay. Moreover, we're committed to enhancing the culinary experience by sourcing the finest ingredients, ensuring that guests can enjoy high-quality meals without having to travel abroad. We take pride in offering these conveniences at our guests' fingertips.

Leadership Vision

How do you envision the role of Fairmont Nile City Hotel evolving under your leadership in the coming years?

I'm thrilled to be part of such a remarkable and distinctive hotel. Our owners are exceptional partners, providing unwavering support and demonstrating a commitment to investing in the training and development of our colleagues. They spare no effort or expense to ensure that every guest's experience at the hotel is truly memorable, exceeding their expectations at every turn. Over the past two years, we've successfully ingrained a culture centered around the guest journey, prioritizing every detail and expectation. Additionally, we've cultivated a healthy working environment that attracts top talent and fosters solid experience. Moving forward, we remain dedicated to investing in our colleagues and implementing top-notch management strategies to deliver excellence while exceeding guest expectations consistently. Ultimately, we are committed to embedding the Fairmont Eternal Promise of turning moments into memories, ensuring every guest leaves with unforgettable experiences to cherish.