Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations, offering a variety of luxury hotels and entertainment (Oxford Business Group, 2020). However, even hotels with five-star ratings encounter common problems that occur in any part of the world. Al Habtoor Polo Resort is one of such places where luxury appearance is not supported by a significant number of negative comments about the hotel’s service. It is vital for Al Habtoor Polo Resort to review its internal policies and increase the quality of service. Marketing changes may also be necessary to reinvigorate the hotel’s popularity and increase its market share.
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Al Habtoor Polo Resort is located in Dubailand, in close proximity to amusement parks, concert venues, and malls. However, it also accentuates the nature of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), allowing visitors to enjoy the views of the Arabian Desert (Al Habtoor Polo Resort, 2018). The primary focus of Al Habtoor Polo Resort is its equestrian-inspired entertainment, including a horse-riding school and a polo academy on the hotel’s grounds. However, it also has common resort offers, such as a spa, several swimming pools, a gym, tennis and squash courts, mini-golf, archery, and more.
Intensive Growth Strategies
Before seeking change outside of the hotel’s own system, Al Habtoor Polo Resort needs to consider possibilities of growth using its current resources. In this case, recommendations for intensive development should be made. It is clear that the hotel has a clear vision of the clients to whom the service is catered. The luxury segment of hotel services and the focus on horse riding seem to be at the center of the hotel’s marketing (Al Habtoor Polo Resort, 2018). Nevertheless, such segmentation does not mean that Al Habtoor Polo Resort cannot offer any new products or find other groups of people to attract.
Market Penetration Strategy
Al Habtoor Polo Resort seems to have a well-established brand that many customers find appealing. However, it is far from a market leader in the luxury sector of hospitality services. It is also not the main hotel for equestrian entertainment. Focusing on the current market and established customer segments, Al Habtoor Polo Resort should:
- Improve service quality by retraining or hiring new staff, creating strict rules for cleaning and upkeep, increasing the speed of response to customers. These suggestions are based on the majority of negative reviews on popular tourist websites (Tripadvisor, 2021);
- Increase promotion on social media and traditional channels (Nuseira &Aljumahb, 2020);
- Offer promotional packages to interest non-buying customers in the targeted group;
- Make booking, registration, and travel to the hotel more comfortable.
Market Development Strategy
Apart from the established market segment, Al Habtoor Polo Resort can also find new groups of people who may be interested in what the hotel can offer. Here, some new activities may be introduced, although they should make use of the resources that the resort currently has (Richard, 2017). To target a new demographic, Al Habtoor Polo Resort may:
- Redefine the relationship between clients and animals at the hotel;
- Pose the resort as a place of respite for animal lovers;
- Highlight the environmentally-conscious side of the hotel to attract younger clientele;
- Target families with young and older children who may participate in horse riding;
- Opening up a new hotel in another location to attract clients who wish to see more than Dubai.
Product Development Strategy
At present, Al Habtoor Polo Resort offers a variety of services to its guests. Some of them are traditional for hotels, such as spas, pools, and other leisure activities (Richard, 2017). Apart from that, the unique nature of horse riding and polo also enrich the products that the resort providers. Nonetheless, returning and new clients may wish to see other features and services that will make Al Habtoor Polo Resort more desirable. The recommendations are to:
- Create new activities that highlight the location – tours and festivals;
- Offer competitive horse-riding training lessons;
- Allow people to visit the stables in order to groom or feed horses;
- Introduce horse-based activities that allow audiences to watch, not participate (such as professional demonstrations of horse riding and tournaments);
- Introduce regular competitive polo matches to increase client loyalty and return rate.
It is apparent that the hotel may not be able to implement new changes without diversification. It is a process of entering new markets to present more products and services to current clients (Nikolskaya et al., 2018). Some common ways to diversify, using related businesses, are:
- The Beauty industry – a beauty salon is a possible addition to the existing spa-center;
- Retail – the hotel may sell anything from local souvenirs and works of art to jewelry and clothing;
- Tourist arrangements – ticket sale, advertisement, and collaboration with other entertainment centers in Dubailand
- Culture and art – the organization of festivals and exhibitions, art galleries
- Wellness and health – the hotel can add to its morning yoga programs, introducing hot yoga, guided meditation, and other practices.
Integrative Growth Strategies
In contrast to intensive approaches, integrative growth considers partnerships and acquisitions as a way of improving business performance (Raharja & Arifianti, 2018). Although Al Habtoor Polo Resort can try to implement new diverse products and services alone, it may benefit from acquiring or merging with other businesses. In the hospitality industry, the possibilities of integration are vast, as hotels work with a variety of suppliers and service providers to deliver customers a well-rounded experience.
The first type of integration is horizontal; here, the hotel may acquire or merge with its competitors. For example, Al Habtoor Polo Resort is not the only luxury hotel in Dubai. At the same time, it also not the only resort focused on equestrian-inspired entertainment. Some recommendations for the hotel are to:
- Acquire several less famous hotels with vast land appropriate for horse riding and polo;
- Acquire hotel property in other locations outside Dubai and focus on the luxury segment with common hotel activities (Raharja & Arifianti, 2018);
- Merge with local hotels, such as the JA Resort, as it also has a vastly popular equestrian center;
- Merge with international hotels that are interested in equestrian-based or luxury hospitality services;
- Acquire a horse or animal sanctuary as a way of increasing the socially favorable view of the brand.
Vertical integration involves two possible directions; backward integration refers to the acquisition of businesses that stand before the hotel in the supply chain (Richard, 2017). Hospitality services have many suppliers for their restaurants, rooms, and entertainment activities. Thus, some suggestions for backward integration for Al Habtoor Polo Resort are:
- A catering business;
- Furniture manufacturing;
- Designing agency;
- Sports supply store;
- Clothing manufacturer.
Many steps exist in the hospitality business chain between the hotel and the client. Hotels provide the service, and, on some occasions, clients contact them directly. However, many tourists book hotels with the help of a traveling agency. People also need to purchase tickets and insurance for the trip. Thus, the recommendations for Al Habtoor Polo Resort for forward integration include:
- A traveling agency (Richard, 2017);
- A transport company (that delivers clients from the airport or other location to the hotel and back);
- Media channels that discuss travel (magazines, online publications, TV programs);
- A travel insurance agency;
- A website that collects data about customer’s trips, such as feedback, rating, and advice.
Unrelated Diversification Growth Strategy
Finally, the hotel may diversify into entirely unrelated areas, if necessary. Al Habtoor Polo Resort seems to have a business that offers many opportunities for related diversification since it provides many services to its clients. Nonetheless, it can venture into new areas that may yield much capital to pour into the hospitality industry:
- A healthcare research and development company;
- Investment products;
- Communications, publishing, radio, television, and other channels not related to travel;
- Information technology;
- Insurance products (Richard, 2017).
Al Habtoor Polo Resort. (2018). Welcome to Al Habtoor Polo Resort. Web.
Nikolskaya, E. Y., Kovaleva, N. I., Uspenskaya, M. E., Makshakova, N. I., Lysoivanenko, E. N., & Lebedev, K. A. (2018). Innovative quality improvements in hotel services. European Research Studies Journal, XXI(2), 489-498.
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Nuseira, M. T., & Aljumahb, A. (2020). Digital marketing adoption influenced by relative advantage and competitive industry: A UAE tourism case study. Marketing, 11(2), 617-631.
Oxford Business Group. (2020). Dubai’s well established tourism sector sees new strategy. Web.
Raharja, S. U. J., & Arifianti, R. (2018). Competitive strategy in” XYZ” four-star hotel company in Tangerang City, Indonesia. Review of Integrative Business and Economics Research, 7, 117-126.
Richard, B. (2017). Hotel chains: Survival strategies for a dynamic future. Journal of Tourism Futures, 3(1), 56-65.
Tripadvisor. (2021). Al Habtoor Polo Resort: Reviews. Web.