DoubleTree by Hilton, Stone Town Zanzibar, Tanzania. Interview with Josour Magazine Monthly & Online

Yehia El Mansoury, Group Director of Business Development at Doubletree by Hilton Tanzania – Burundi

These are exciting times for DoubleTree by Hilton in Tanzania and of course Zanzibar, share with us some of your experience in this emerging destination.

ANS: Doubletree by Hilton has had the privilege of being one of the first properties to penetrate this destination and create great awareness with its 2 properties: DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Nungwi -Zanzibar on the north coast of Nungwi and DoubelTree by Hilton Stone Town – Zanzibar in the center of the Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in coastal history.

DoubleTree by Hilton is strategically located at the heart of the city centre’s busy Stone Town, how does this contribute to the hotel’s occupancy?

ANS: The hotel’s location within Stone Town, has positively contributed to its occupancy giving a great opportunity to serve both corporate and leisure markets. Additionally, you can walk to a variety of local cultural and heritage attractions such as Old Fort, the Slave Market & Forodhani Gardens – a nightly food market with exotic flavours, is strength. Additionally, we’re 20 minutes from the international airport and walking distance from the ferry  – making us greatly accessible.

How do you differentiate yourselves from competition? What facilities are available for guests that are unique to DoubleTree by Hilton?

ANS: The hotel combines elements of  a traditional boutique feel epitomising Stone Town hotel properties, with the comfort of that top-quality Hilton  standard making this property solely unique in the market.

A point of great pride is the fact that all of the furniture has been lovingly hand-carved by 21 wood carvers. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on personalised service.

Has the hotel managed to integrate some of the Zanzibari culture to promote authentic experience? If so what are they?

ANS: The hotel offers the age old hospitality and charm of ‘Swahili’ culture, which is rooted in coastal flavours in which our food is filled with,, architecture as seen throughout the property and a personal touch.

Food is fast becoming a major tourists’ boost while selection a destination, what F&B exeprience can your guests enjoy during their stay?

ANS: Known for its cuisine, our skilled Mauritian executive Chef Alan leads his team in providing delicious multinational cuisine blended with Zanzibari charm, tailored to all our guests and corporate requirements.

What challenges have you faced so far as the destination is undergoing major shift? When would you say is the busiest season in Zanzibar?

ANS: Zanzibar is fortunate to be blessed in climate and attractions. As such, it’s one of few holiday destinations in the world which can be visited all year round!

Furthermore, Stone Town is the hub for events and festivals on the island. The Zanzibar International Film Festival, Sauti za Busara music festival and  Jazz festival which occur between February and September, are gaining traction and increase visitor numbers yearly.

Also, there’s a collection of arts, culture & festivals that occur throughout the year and boost visitor numbers further.

Having multiple properties in Tanzania, is local marketing part of your strategy?

ANS: Definitely. It is integral to our strategy knowing that the local market represents a big share of business especially on weekends and public holidays.- We communicate with the local market through local online/ digital platforms/ social media and print media.

Where would you say the majority of your guests are coming from?

ANS: We have a good diversity of markets, with an increase of the emerging markets from the GCC, China, Russia &Eastern Europe.

The Gulf is an emerging market for Zanzibar, what is the startegy to promote the propery in the Gulf given the diverse nationalities?

Participating in major Gulf fairs such as the ATM is a tactic high on our list. Also, we organizing Press & Fam trips with media agencies & marketing activities with GCC airlines has proven very fruitful for us.

Do you cater to families and large/corporate groups?

ANS: Indeed we do. We serve any sized group, from a small dinner party to a large corporate function. We also welcome family gatherings, birthdays, office meetings & weddings.

Are you likely to collaborate with your international chain to promote your properties in Tanzania?

ANS: A key strength of being a part of the Hilton is its vast network and resources. This enables us to collaborate with our colleagues overseas on business-lead generation from the brand sales team and highly optimized online marketing.  We also highly encourage our guests to book directly on our hotel website. This way, they can become members of the greatly beneficial and esteemed Hilton Honors loyalty program to take advantage of the added values and stays we offer our members through targeted sales & marketing internationally.

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