Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Rifai

Taleb Rifai

Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Taleb Rifai's background combines solid political experience and technical knowledge in the field of tourism, as well as experience in the work and functioning of International Organizations. His background also provides him with extensive economic, business and academic experience. He was elected as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the General Assembly, Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2009 and begun his four-year term on 1 January 2010. He assumed the functions of Secretary-General ad interim of the World Tourism Organization from 1 March 2009 and served as Deputy Secretary-General from February 2006 to February 2009. Prior to assuming his current post, Taleb Rifai was the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for three consecutive years. His responsibilities included the overall supervision and implementation of the International Labour Standards, as well as advising on labour markets and employment policies, particularly in the Middle East region. From 1999 to 2003, he served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan, first, as Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in charge of Jordan's Development Agenda and bilateral and multilateral relationships with donors and agencies. He was subsequently appointed Minister of Information, in which capacity he was spokesman of the Government of Jordan and in charge of communication and public media. During his tenure, he embarked on restructuring public media and in particular the Jordan Television Network. In 2001, his portfolio was expanded to include the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity. During his term as Minister of Tourism and Antiquity, Taleb Rifai established Jordan's first Archaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra in collaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank. He also realized several large projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. As Minister of Tourism, he was the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Ammon School for Tourism and Hospitality and was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of the UNWTO in 2001. In the three years preceding his service in the Jordanian Cabinet, he was appointed the CEO of Jordan's Cement Company, one of the country's largest public shareholding companies with over 4,000 employees. During his term he successfully led and directed the first large-scale privatization and restructuring scheme in Jordan by bringing in the world famous French cement company Lafarge in 1998 and continued to serve as CEO under the new Lafarge management.

Mr. Rifai can be contacted at 34-91-5679-324 or trafai@unwto.org

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.