#HospitalityLeaders: Philipp John Economou, Area General Manager, Bahrain (IHG)

What is your vision for InterContinental Regency Bahrain?

InterContinental Regency is focusing on providing an outstanding guest experience by incorporating technology. We have made a lot of developments in our offerings over the years. However, with travel and hospitality evolving, our guests’ needs are changing. We are relaunching customized experiences through services that enhance our guests’ stay at the hotel.

When the world hit a pause on travel, IHG Hotels & Resorts saw an opportunity to reconnect and learn from its guests and owners. We launched Journey to Tomorrow, a new action plan that signals fresh commitments to drive positive change for our people, communities, and the planet aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

What have been your biggest challenges (and successes) over the past difficult years?

The market conditions with an influx of new hotels, disproportionate supply and demand, workforce shortages, and prolonged economic challenges directly affected all aspects of our business.

However, these challenges made us think out of the box, finding new ways to reach our guests. One of our new ideas – the Greek Ghost Kitchen concept has now got a life of its own as a popular pop-up restaurant during the winter months.

Other than a great team, what qualities does your hotel have that make it stand out in Bahrain?

Our location in the heart of Manama, within walking distance to the traditional local souq, the World Trade Center, the financial harbour, and popular malls, makes it attractive to both business and leisure guests. The IHG One Rewards, the industry’s first hotel loyalty program, is evolving to meet the needs of our current and future members.

What does hospitality leadership mean to you?

Meeting and exceeding the needs of our guests by creating memorable experiences is the main goal for a hospitality leader. They result in achieving guest satisfaction, repeat business, and word-of-mouth advertising.

Hospitality professionals work long nights and endless weeks because a hotel is a 24/7 business. Despite the workload, one needs to be ready to take control of situations and be accountable for solving any problems, while being punctual, organized, and in control. Part of being an effective leader is knowing when to delegate responsibilities by building a team you trust.

Leaders need Innovation in order to improve their organization. This means that great leaders are perceptive to the ideas of others, show flexibility, and look at situations through different lenses. Innovative leaders are always learning and analyzing strengths and weaknesses while looking for ways to improve.

Is there a particular saying or motto that guides you?

“People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou