Dubai-based hotel supplier Al Accad Hotel Supplies has been in business for more than thirty years, and as managing director Sultan Al Accad explains, it still has its finger firmly on the pulse.
When Al Accad Hotel Supplies was set-up in 1975, none of the properties it has recently worked with existed - but the firm saw the potential of the hospitality market early.
"My father saw that the UAE was a very promising tourist destination and the hotel industry would probably be one of the best industries in the whole Middle East region," explains the firm's managing director Sultan Al Accad. "It didn't seem to be like that at that time. It was getting there slowly at the start, but in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed he saw that the possibilities were there. He didn't expect it to grow this big, but it did grow, and it's still growing."
Hotels always want something new, something that is not available at another hotel, so it’s very important to always get the newest products and offer our clients up-to-date designs.
The company has recently supplied large hotels such as the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Emirates Towers and Grosvenor House. Al Accad believes the market is now healthier than ever before, with the number of visitors to Dubai hotels increasing from 3 million in 1999 to more than 6.4 million in 2006, and the industry predicting that there will be 15 million by 2010 and 40 million by 2015.
"Now everybody in the world is trying to do some business in Dubai, and this is good for us because it creates competition," he says.
In order to not only keep up with competition, but also to stay ahead of the pack, Al Accad is constantly trying to expand the firm's portfolio. After starting with just a few table-top products, the company now provides operational equipment as well.
"Hotels always want something new, something that is not available at another hotel, so it's very important to always get the newest products and offer our clients up-to-date designs and fresh ideas," says Al Accad.
"We're always visiting exhibitions where they launch new products around the world, in Asia and in Europe, and now we must keep an eye on what our competitors are doing to get a better feel for the market."
The firm has also just signed a deal with European supplier Cambro to distribute its products in the UAE.
"We will start stocking [the products] within the next two months, but we already have many confirmed orders from our clients for Cambro products - it is like clients were waiting for us to start selling Cambro," he adds.
The Al Accad showroom, 1300m2 warehouse and offices are currently located on the Dubai-Sharjah Road, and the compact nature of its operation allows the firm to maintain good relationships with its customers.
"Of course for some projects we take samples and do presentations for hoteliers at the sites, but we like to invite hoteliers to come over to the showroom and have a look, and the fact that they come in person is very important to us because we pick up more credibility and they can feel, touch and really see the products," explains Al Accad.
The firm has many repeat customers, according to Al Accad, and the key to maintaining these relationships is ensuring that the standard of service is always kept at the highest level.
"Making sure the service is at the top level is important, because you are serving the hospitality industry, and hospitality is all about service. It doesn't always make it easy but we manage to do it," he says. "Attending to the repeat customers - giving them whatever they want - is vital and we try to keep things quite tight."
Thirty-two years in the business has allowed Al Accad to build up a solid infrastructure, and gain knowledge of the industry, which gives them an advantage over newer suppliers.
"We keep a large stock of items that we feel are needed instantly. Many hotels need to buy things on a daily basis and by keeping the stock we can cater to that need," says Al Accad.
The firm is now expanding across the Middle East, starting by supplying the Gulf region from its Dubai base and then setting up new operations in the countries themselves.
"We want to be market leaders; it's something we have always wanted to be," Al Accad says.
"I think and I hope that we will achieve that much sooner than ten years time or even five years time,"he concludes.