Ghada Sadek: Revitalizing the Hospitality industry with her Golden Touch

At Accor, employees are called Heartist = Heart + Artist. We, the Heartists, are recognized as passionate and experts in what we do. We master the fine art of welcoming, connecting, and serving others,” says Ghada Sadek, General Manager at Mövenpick Hotel West Bay Doha. This property is a five-star hotel that is strategically situated in the heart of the city. It offers friendly, upscale, and personalized service while predominantly focusing on sustainable initiatives and operations, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and a healthy lifestyle.

Ghada, an Egyptian, has been at the helm of affairs since March 2013, with an immense experience of 29 years in the hospitality sector. She is a people person. She leads a team of 172-180 Heartists who together offer an alcohol-free environment that respects the local culture, making it one of the best options for business, leisure guests, and families. They are also a Gold Green Globe certified hotel, that reaches out to local communities and travellers with tailor-made green meeting packages, as well as ‘green rooms’ and offers accessible rooms to ensure the comfort of their specially-abled guests. What so clearly resonates with the brand’s vision is “To passionately deliver our ‘we make moments’; to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way—a philosophy that has defined our brand’s success from the very start.

Choosing Hospitality: Thoughts & Insights

Ghada entered the hospitality industry, where she worked in sales, marketing, and operations for a variety of international hotel chains. Being a hotelier for Ghada was a natural choice as she gets the opportunity to meet, learn from many people of different backgrounds and cultures and build long-lasting relationships. She says, “The hospitality industry allows me to develop myself professionally and as a person.” For more than two decades, she has thrived in the travel and hospitality industry. Ghada’s enthusiasm for developing environmental programs, sustainability, and strong ties with the local government has been the driving force behind her focus on solidifying the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts brand with the local business community, making sure that their guests will continue to receive exceptional and personalized service.

Ghada Sadek

"Many women across the globe have made their marks in the hospitality industry, from general managers to senior executive positions. With the rapid changes on-going and to better cater to the guests and understand their needs, I strongly believe that it is essential to have a diverse workforce."

Post Pandemic: The New Normal

According to Ghada, “With the pandemic, hospitality has noticeably transformed, and guests’ behaviour has changed, which has had a significant impact on the service business across the globe.” Here, Accor’s ability to continuously evolve to adapt to various challenges in different aspects has poised them to be able to define the new normal for the industry. Accor has implemented the global ALLSafe Cleanliness and Prevention Label at Accor properties across the Middle East and Africa, ensuring valued guests and team members that they will always be looked after with the highest degree of safety, care, and comfort. Ghada shares, “With the changes and uncertainty of time, our hotel has kept up with the momentum and continuous developments were in place from recovery, implementation of the health and safety protocols, to strongly focusing on on-line visibility, reputation, and social media management. As Heartists, we are passionate by profession and masters at transforming our guests’ experiences into memorable moments. We embrace the ever-changing needs of guests and remain consistent with our service approach—warm and personal and never compromising on quality and authenticity.” Health and sanitary measures, new operational standards were set and implemented that were developed in partnership with hygiene solutions specialist Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections, and certification. Accor also provides free health support with AXA, including access to medical professionals and consultations by phone or on location. They have also given hands-on training to all employees, created a dedicated on-property rollout committee, and implemented a formal audit program, validated under the global ALLSAFE Cleanliness label, ensuring initial and continued compliance. They have designated specially trained ‘ALL Safe Officers’ to oversee all hotel cleaning operations, preventative measures, and guest inquiries. Furthermore, they prioritised the placement of physical distancing marks throughout the hotel and dining outlets, with masks provided to guests and worn by all employees and changed every four hours.

Accor has also been at the forefront of utilizing technology to its full potential with the usage of Accor centralized applications like RESAWEB for room bookings, combined with Cloud Application for Opera Cloud PMS, Barracuda backup, and Simphony Cloud POS. They use QR code applications for virtual restaurant and in-room dining menus. Face detection for time and attendance application, digital media board for guests and staff information, pre-arrival email for online check-in and whatsapp for business communication tool, reputation management of guest reviews, hotel ranking, and engagement on all kinds of social media platforms (OTA), Online Travel Agency, Google My Business, TripAdvisor, Booking.com. Expedia, Agoda, Hotels.com, and others are other technological innovations that are utilized by the brand. This is combined with effective digital marketing channels to drive business and brand retention through SEO and hotel websites, along with social media platforms and constant offers, rewards, benefits, and exceptional events from Accor’s lifestyle loyalty program, ALL (Accor Live Limitless).

Making a Mark: How Gender Diversity is Changing the Narrative

As Ghada shares, “Many women across the globe have made their marks in the hospitality industry, from general managers to senior executive positions. With the rapid changes on-going and to better cater to the guests and understand their needs, I strongly believe that it is essential to have a diverse workforce.” This resonates with the mood of the industry itself, as hotel chains are retaining more female talent, which demonstrates open gender equality across the board. Women’s unique qualities and perspectives contribute to the progress of each brand. The leadership skills, confidence, and charisma, that women bring to the table make a lot of difference in the service business and inspire fellow women to excel and make a difference. She believes the hospitality industry is opening more doors for women’s empowerment and leadership. Her advice to other women is that “they should seize every opportunity to learn, improve, and go above and beyond their limits to deliver excellence. Our personal and professional growth will inspire other female leaders to thrive and maximize their potential.

As a big-time admirer of the amazing Oprah, Ghada says, “I admire Oprah Winfrey. She has unique leadership skills in terms of compassion, ethics, inspiration, and justice. She can inspire people because she conforms to what is right and she fights for it.” As a hospitality leader Ghada remains passionate and up to date about the industry, with strong network relationships from other sectors. She leverages her women’s instincts of compassion and empathy as well as qualities like hard work and effective communication, all while maintaining a positive attitude and mindset. When it comes to balancing work, life, and relationships with family and loved ones, Ghada believes that self-care is the key. To ensure Heartist at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts provide outstanding service, they first care about the wellbeing and balance of their employees with positive steps such as increasing motivation by recognizing, and rewarding their efforts and dedication. To create a working environment that fosters fulfilment Ghada focuses on empowering people and encouraging their talent to develop through leadership, and cross-departmental training. Being a mother to her children, a sister to her siblings, and a leader to her team, as a woman, balancing professional and family life requires significant commitment and organization.She shares, “I love spending quality time with my family and friends. I like hosting gatherings and events for them. I make it a point not to miss any family affairs or celebrations. My family is my main passion and priority. This is why Ghada’s advice to her younger self is to “love yourself more, prioritize and give ample quality time not only to others but more of yourself, for the greater good of your mind and well-being

The Art of Giving Back: Sustainability 

As with Ghada, her conviction goes to gender equality and diversity and caring for the community, by encouraging kindness, organizing charitable campaigns, community service, and implementing sustainable initiatives and activities. This all falls under Accor’s sustainable development program, Planet 21, which aims to provide a positive hospitality experience to all its hotels. Their hotel operates based on this global sustainability programme that focuses on four strategic priorities, namely, working with its employees, involving its customers, innovating with its partners, and working with local communities.

As Ghada describes one of their priorities under Planet 21, she says, “One of our priorities for Acting Here Planet 21 is the elimination of single-use plastics from operations by the end of 2022. A global strategy is in place, and our goal is to not only act to fight plastic pollution and protect our environment, but also promote responsible tourism, comply with regulatory guidelines, and meet the expectations of business partners, corporates, guests, and investors. I am fervent in supporting and carrying out sustainability programmes that will lead to better operating our business: minimizing operating costs, attracting right dealings, and inspiring other hotel chains and industry sectors to do the same.

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