The FINANCIAL — The Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, one of the leading hotels in the Georgian market, has appointed Michael Jacobi as its new General Manager.
Mr. Jacobi brings with him a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked in international hotels in Germany, the US, Ireland, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman for past 19 years.
Mr. Jacobi studied hotel and catering management in Germany for three years. As he told The FINANCIAL, the reason he started studying the hospitality industry was to have the opportunity to travel around the world. During his early years in the industry he gained experience in all areas of hotel operation and got exposure to everything that is to do in a busy hotel, from cleaning the dishes to cooking food, from checking in guests to preparing Sales and Marketing plans and from serving food and drinks to cleaning rooms and learning about book keeping of the hotel finances.
“I didn't want to just learn hotel management and then run a hotel in Germany, my interest was to travel, meet interesting people, see different cultures, experience different countries, learn their history and languages. After graduating in Germany I went to Ireland. My wife is Irish and I followed her there. Then we travelled to the USA where I worked in a very large hotel. We later returned to Ireland after my time in the US and stayed there for five years. Then we travelled to the Middle East where I worked in Qatar, Kuwait, Muscat and am now here in Tbilisi,” Jacobi said.
“Before I visited the country I was told that Georgians were very hospitable. People here like to host guests. Hospitality is a natural characteristic for Georgian people. They are very friendly. I can see this in my staff which looks after each other and after our guests with great care. I am very impressed with Georgian hospitality and the standards of service which exist in the hotel,” Jacobi stated.
“The Georgian hospitality business is in a relatively small market. There are a limited number of international hotels here. But in general all of the hotels present in the country are doing their part in the process of improving the level of hospitality in the country. They are doing a good job. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the level of confidence here, especially amongst our younger colleagues. They are not afraid to speak up or make a mistake and I think this is really great. In Georgia the staff seem much more confident and it makes working with them that much easier,” Jacobi said.
After two and a half years of operations in Georgia the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel is positioned extremely well in Tbilisi,” Mr. Jacobi believes.
“The hotel is in a great location and the views from the hotel are fantastic. I think the hotel had a very strong opening. To open a hotel is really hard. The crew that was here did an extremely good job not only in opening it but managing the process in order to avoid things going wrong. They have put in place a very strong team which is very happy and proud to be in the hotel. Our staff really respect their jobs and that’s one of the main reasons why the hotel is successful. We have to keep moving forward and continue doing a great job,” Jacobi said.
“There are more hotels that are going to open in Tbilisi. This business will become much more competitive so we need to be alert, creative and proactive and continue to deliver outstanding facilities and top class service standards.” Jacobi said.
“I am not planning to make any immediate changes in the hotel. When leadership changes the style of hotel management usually also changes slightly. But what makes our company very successful is that we are a management company and our general managers are trained in a very similar way. That means that when one GM goes and the next arrives it doesn’t mean that everything is going to change significantly. We have the same set of objectives, the same targets. Our key performance indicators are the same, our business planning is the same. The way we communicate, our language in the company is the same. It’s a beautiful hotel with great staff and I am content with how business is going,” Jacobi said.
The key plan of Mr. Jacobi’s is to keep up the hard work that the hotel has done over the last two and a half years and at the same time accelerate communication with the market a little bit.
“Tbilisi has a huge amount of lovely restaurants. To attract more of Tbilisi’s residents to our hotel’s bars and restaurants we have to be really creative and offer something a little bit different. Generally we will continue to do what we have been doing best so far and we will continue to focus on the “Yes I can” attitude that we are renowned for. We have a very clear identity in terms of how we want to run our hotels and our Yes I Can philosophy is the key to how we approach different situations with a positive mindset ” Jacobi said.
“The issue of responsible business is very important for our company. We were one of the first international hotel companies to introduce our CSR programme. It’s a key part of our business plan therefore and we have several activities lined up for this year in relation to reducing our environmental impact and activities that are aimed at giving back to the community” Jacobi said.
According to the new General Manager of the hotel the majority of bookings are still made by phone or on arrival. “Online bookings are not as popular as in western European countries but this segment is growing rapidly”, he added.
“We have quite a large property in relation to the other hotels existing on the market. To say that we want to be 100% full all the time is very challenging. But our objective as a hotel is of course to fill every single room every single night. We offer a superior product and it’s important for us to get the right value of what we are selling. We do spend a lot of time in training our staff and getting our facilities to a level that allows us to charge a little bit more. So that’s why we might not necessarily be the cheapest option but we are certainly an option where you get good value for money,” Jacobi said.
“I see that Tbilisi is developing very fast, there are many ongoing projects and activities in the city. We have a very good system in the hotel, we know the market well and we are very active. We expect to grow in the nearest future. In comparison to last year, this year we already see a good increase in hotel occupancy levels,” Jacobi said.
“The hotel has become a very popular meeting point as well. We have been quite attractive for arranging large conferences and meetings because we have a lot of space and we are easily accessible. We will focus on attracting even more events to the hotel,” Jacobi said.
“We have a second property in Batumi which is very popular over the summer. We will certainly try to offer packages which enable travellers to experience our hotel in Tbilisi and then move on to stay in Batumi, or visit Batumi and then come to Tbilisi,” Jacobi stated.
“Service quality and guest satisfaction is the most important aspect of our business as we want our customers to become loyal to our hotels and return often. Our company has a system of measuring guest satisfaction. Out of all the Rezidor hotels, Radisson Blu Iveria is among the top three when it comes to level of guest satisfaction. It says a lot about our staff and this is the direct feedback of our guests which makes us very proud ,” Jacobi said.
“As part of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group we have a very large network of hotels worldwide and we have a very good network of sales offices. That is a good way to reach our target audience globally, and in particular our main feeder markets in the CIS. We need to continue to work hard to get the message out there about the beauty of Georgia and the many attractions it has to offer. Through our international sales network we will play our role in attracting foreign visitors”, Jacobi stated.
“It really is a beautiful country, and more people should be told about how nice it is. Before I came here I asked people who had been in Georgia on a visit and all of them had been impressed by the country and the Georgian people. It’s very important to spread this positive feedback. I see the challenge currently in the infrastructure. More airlines have to enter the market. The accessibility of the country should be made easier. I myself found it very difficult to come to Tbilisi. Most people don’t want any inconvenience of stopping over several times or changing planes on the way and then arriving tired in the middle of the night, this is not good and puts people off. ” Jacobi said.
“The progress over the last few years is tremendous and the projects that are ongoing or in the pipeline will further put Georgia on the Tourism map. I definitely see a very bright future for the country and for the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel”, concludes Michael Jacobi.