An Australian national, Daniel Muhor was born in Geelong, Victoria, educated at The Geelong College and completed his Bachelor of Business in Catering and Hotel Management at Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne Australia. With nearly 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry and having worked for Starwood for 11 years from 2000 to 2011, Daniel returns to the company after a two year break.
What is your opinion about the current hospitality industry in Bangladesh?
The hospitality industry is definitely in an upward movement and steadily improving. And I think this has been recognised by many key international hotel chains. The Westin Dhaka’s success for the past 7 years is a testament to its reputation as a premier 5 star hotel. Other organisations too, see huge potential with more international hotels on board.
Do you think the market has become saturated with the opening of too many luxury hotels?I do not think so. There is still a great demand for 5 star hotels, especially as traveling to Bangladesh has gone up significantly . A lot of investors are eyeing for this untapped potential.
Do you think five star hotels in Bangladesh follow a global standard that attracts foreign tourists? If there is a gap, what needs to be done to achieve the standard?
The room rates in Dhaka are considerably higher than those in India and China. The rates compete with those in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. With Starwood at helm, the quality of a 5 star hotel in Bangladesh is the same as anywhere else across the globe. The passion and commitment from the owners ensures that the business thrives, all while maintaining worldwide standards.
In your opinion, how does Westin stand out among its five star peers?
From the feedback we take from our guests, we have seen that the expectation of travelers, from when they arrive, becomes positively different when they leave. The quality of our hotel’s service ensures that. It is attributed to our dedicated team, who thrive on giving nothing but class service.
They are trained with assistance from our regional office. We make sure they receive appropriate training anywhere they go. Westin Dhaka has been in the market since 2007, and it is currently number one. We are looked upon by our competitors and also have high expectations from our clients. We continue to deliver this consistently over time.
What are some of the attributes you look for when hiring people?
As long as a candidate has the right attitude, honesty and passion about what they do, we are willing to use our resources to train. There would be an opportunity for Bangladeshis to grow its talents in this sector. So when hiring, a lot of training is implemented.
What is your employee retention like?
Our employee retention rate is high at 3-5%. We offer the opportunity to work for a great brand, a great product to work with and growth potential. Our succession planning is the key to our retention success, as we continuously assess and make pathways so that our employees can reach their maximum potential.
Do you feel that consumer behavior has changed in recent years? If so, then how?
A common perception is that hotels are much more than just a bed these days. They offer a lifestyle experience. A key saying is that you leave Westin feeling better than when you arrived. One attribute of our personalized service is that we understand our guests even before they arrive, through a survey form they fill out before making their reservations. We ensure making them feel like they are at home.
Westin Dhaka provides quality rooms, imported food and beverages, etc. What I have seen in perception is that guests begin to enjoy their stays with us. Local guests are of the same opinion as well. Bangladesh has a lot of high-end customers, who have been around the world and know what the best things in life are. So they know that we offer the same quality, if not better quality in many aspects.
What makes customers loyal to Westin?
Room occupancy is a key in making the business successful. Marketing has become more and more biased, guests have more options now. But there are no intense fights for guests, as we have created brand loyalty among our guests. We have our own customer loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). Through this membership, they can avail services from 1200 Starwood affiliated hotels across the globe.
To what extent do you rely on promotions like festivals and parties?
We have been fortunate to receive help from other hotels in the Asia Pacific for our food festivals. For Chinese Food Festivals, we have had chefs flown in from China, Indian chefs from India and so forth. It added authenticity to our festivals. Guests want to stay, but they also want other quality offerings such as our health club and spa.
Does Westin have expansion plans, given the construction on the plot opposite to the hotel?
We have new hotels waiting to be launched. Our company is on board to inaugurate a 260 room hotel in Banani, which is expected to be opened in two years time. They also have plans of opening another Starwood property, such as Four Points by Sheraton and Le Meridien.
Where do you see the future of the Bangladeshi hospitality industry?
All in all, the hospitality industry has its bright years ahead as India had 10 years ago. This will continue to grow till 2020. With new entrants such as the Chinese and Russian delegations, top RMG clients and embassy delegates, room occupancy is going to be positive in the coming years. As far as local tourism is concerned, there is opportunity for the government to do more to assist hotels.