The new GM of InterContinental Dhaka, Marc Reissigner gives an account of his plans of restoring their glory days. Irfan Aziz is all ears.
The InterContinental has reclaimed its status of being one of the most grandiose establishments in Dhaka after a hiatus that lasted for decades. Adding a much welcome X-factor to Dhaka’s infrastructure with its larger than life presence and aesthetics, it has indeed been very well received since re-opening. However, “very-well” doesn’t do enough justice to a place of InterContinental’s stature as they have the potential to elevate themselves to the summit of Dhaka’s hospitality sector. In a bid to do just that, they have brought in Marc Reissigner as their new general manager. Marc personifies the term hotelier to the t. Charismatic, charming and extremely polarising, ICE Today had the pleasure of getting to know him better and find out all about his plans of taking InterContinental Dhaka to unfathomable heights.
38 years and strong
Marc lives and breathes the hospitality sector, with over 35 years of experience under his belt. The French national who obtained his professional degree in hotel management in 1983 from Strasbourg Hotel School has been in Dhaka for only 3 months but has already turned the city into his oyster. “I am still in my learning phase where I am discovering more about the city and its people on a daily basis,” stated Marc. Hospitality is a business that revolves around people and engaging with them and anticipating their needs. Over the years, Marc has mastered all the tricks of the trade. He started out his career in France making his way from being a Cook Teacher to an F&B director and in 1993, he decided to venture out and begin his international career. He has worked in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Tahiti across several top-notch establishments before joining the InterContinental chain. He spent several years in the Middle East with the likes of Gulf Hotels which the largest private Bahraini Hospitality company and also the Wyndham Hotels where he oversaw operations of 15 hotels located in Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar, KSA, Jordan, and East Africa. And his experience shows; Marc is as polished as a professional can possibly be – the ultimate people person. He listened to whatever I had to say attentively and answered whatever query I had with a big smile on his face. He even walked me through InterContinental’s latest pastry creations and offered me an item of my choice. Now that’s hospitality!
Re-discovering familiar grounds and venturing into newer ones
InterContinental Dhaka is in a league of its own in terms of architecture and decor and also has the heritage to back it up. Marc actually pointed out how a good chunk of their clientele is comprised of individuals who used to come here as kids and teenagers back in the 70’s. “It gives them a very strong feeling of nostalgia. Coming back to a place where they used to come during their childhood to enjoy quality time with loved ones has a lot of emotional appeal to it”, explained Marc. However, he also conceded that a lot of people are still not aware of InterContinental Dhaka’s return. “We are tackling this problem head-on. Be it through our promotional offers or SMS marketing and even social media campaigns, our marketing team is on the front foot and we expect to completely eradicate this problem soon. We want to make everyone aware that we are back and back for good”, he added. He explained how InterContinental is currently positioned as a MICE hotel due to its stellar line up of halls, meeting rooms and convention centers. “At the moment, we are focusing on getting as much business as possible from this category and positioning ourselves as a household name when it comes to events. We have hosted an array of conventions, meetings, and weddings and we have a few very big corporate events coming up as well”, elaborated Marc. But he is also simultaneously working on broadening their horizons. “I want us to be a gourmet establishment where people can have a good time at any hour of the day. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner or a good pastry in between. I want us to be able to cater to every need of a customer,” he added. InterContinental Dhaka is continuously working on revamping their menus and have brought in the best people to do so. They are pioneering concepts like a noodle bar and are also experimenting with various fusion cuisines. In addition to that, they plan on launching their signature fine dining restaurant named Amber Room by the end of August and have also introduced a world-class spa for their customers to enjoy. All in all, Marc is sparing no expense and wants to give customers an experience like no other while establishing a good balance between the infrastructure and all of InterContinental’s other features.
An alternate approach to development
One thing which I simply loved about Marc Reissigner is his passion for the hospitality sector in general. Of course. InternContinental’s success is his top priority but he wants the entire sector to expand and thrive. Convention suggests that it will be the IT, engineering and banking sectors who will be the driving force of Bangladesh’s development but Marc shed some much-needed light on how the hospitality sector too can be a good source. “The government is planning to focus more on tourism and the hospitality sector goes hand in hand with that. The more we expand it the more people will engage and the more we will benefit. Right now there are only a handful of international hotels so it is still a growing sector. We will need to educate the youth to accelerate its growth,” he explained. Marc stressed on the importance of the youth of our nation and how we will need to make them understand about the importance of having a thriving hospitality sector and he is doing everything possible to make that happen. Under his leadership, the InterContinental Dhaka has been pairing up with various universities to host conventions that will help familiarise Bangladeshi students with opportunities in the hospitality sector. “I hope that this can eventually lead to universities offering hotel management programs and there even being schools completely dedicated to this sector in the future. Such initiatives will help produce more qualified individuals who will greatly benefit the economy”, he added. He also explained that a thriving hospitality sector will help benefit other sectors such as IT and engineering. “We are only at the beginning of a very important journey and I expect to see some major developments over the next 5-7 years”, he mentioned in his concluding notes.