Dubai has become one of the most attractive destinations in the world for business travel. The data confirms it. According to the latest data published by the Dubai Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DET) Dubai received a total of 14.36 million international visitors in 2022, representing a growth of 97% compared to the 7.28 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2021.
As a result, Apartool continues its consolidation in Europe and its expansion into new markets like the Middle East, which is why we are inaugurating new offices in Dubai.
We want to share everything about this significant step towards our globalization, and who better to do it than our Country Manager for Portugal & UAE, Lara Mengatti. Lara was responsible for consolidating the Portuguese market, which, in its second year of operation, already had 550 requests, 85 clients, and an average booking value of €2,990. Lara, a professional with experience in expanding and consolidating offices in diverse markets, provides insights into the opportunities presented by the corporate temporary accommodation market in the UAE and the challenges the Apartool faces in its growth and consolidation in the Middle East.
Read the full interview below!
1. What key factors led Apartool to expand in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai?
Out of the 10 million inhabitants of the United Arab Emirates, approximately 90% are expatriates from over 200 different nationalities, according to the census conducted by the UAE government. Most of these individuals have moved for work or study purposes. With these numbers alone, we know that Dubai is a place with high potential for Apartool, which collaborates with leading corporate travel and relocation agencies in Europe. The United Arab Emirates was already a target market for Apartool in the company’s globalization project, and now we are taking another step to strengthen our operations there.
2. Apartool aims to become the leading corporate accommodation platform in Europe and the Middle East by 2025. What are the main strategies the company is using to achieve this goal, and how close are you to achieving it?
Apartool is focused on developing its platform to adapt to the different markets it operates in and to integrate with our partners. We are constantly seeking suppliers to offer the best products in the 85+ countries where we operate. All of this is to further facilitate and simplify the day-to-day lives of our clients.
3. You have been the Country Manager for Portugal. How would you describe the corporate temporary accommodation market in Dubai, and how does it compare to the market you previously led expansion in?
The corporate real estate market in Dubai, like all businesses, is quite dynamic. It is a very commercial country where there is a lot of interest in conducting business that is mutually beneficial. I can see that those who are there are very interested in making things happen and are always developing the best solutions and services. This is where corporate accommodation comes in: it makes life easier for the company, as it is simpler and less bureaucratic than long-term rentals, and it provides comfort to the employee, who arrives in their new country with a home that has everything they need. Compared to Portugal, I believe there is a very important common point, which is the importance of being present and close to our customers and partners. Despite Apartool being a B2B (Business to Business) company, we are also a “heart to heart” business.
4. What were the initial challenges you encountered in leading Apartool’s expansion in Dubai, and how did you address them?
I believe that the challenges we have faced are all positive. As mentioned earlier, being a dynamic market, the outcomes of meetings and contacts with our stakeholders bear fruit very quickly, and we must be attentive and prepared to meet the needs of our clients and respond to emerging requests. Fortunately, we have an excellent team behind Apartool’s operations in the United Arab Emirates, which supports me with the development of this new venture.
5. What strategy do you have in place for attracting suppliers in Dubai that maintain the service quality and customer experience of Apartool?
Currently, we are conducting market studies, attending industry events to better understand the suppliers and the market, and also engaging with our clients to understand the demands of this country. Based on that, we will develop coherent and tailored strategies in line with what is requested from us. I rely on the guidance and support of Apartool’s Supply Acquisition Manager, Diana Ware, to determine the best actions and approaches for developing strategies in this new internationalization challenge.
6. What are the next destinations that Apartool plans to explore to expand its global presence?
Although we have a physical presence in Spain, Portugal, and now the United Arab Emirates, we offer accommodation in over 85 countries through our trusted network of providers. For the coming years, Apartool continues with the strategy of strengthening its presence in Europe and the Middle East, as we aspire to be the leading platform for corporate accommodation in these markets by 2025.
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