Dubai International Airport works towards a different beat when it comes to guest bookings - doing it by the hour. That works to its advantage. Video Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai International Airport’s 400-room hotel is working its way to be something more than a stopover for transit passengers through Dubai.

Instead, the Dubai International Hotel has plans to redefine the entire stay experience to meet the needs of the ‘modern traveller’. The hotel plans to refurbish rooms and facilities, introduce fresh F&B concepts, and capture a new consumer base that has rapidly evolved post-pandemic.

Eugene Barry, the Executive Vice-President - Commercial for Dubai Airports confirmed the hotel’s topping up of features as part of the airport’s ongoing Dh6 billion to Dh10 billion refurbishment. “The goal is to stay current with what guests expect,” said Barry.

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DXB has raised its 2023 forecast to 85 million and is eyeing a record winter season. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Being adjacent to one of the world’s busiest airports for international travel, the hotel hasn’t had any hurdles coming its way in terms of growth chances. Since last year, the hotel’s revenue has grown by 15 per cent. Barry, who manages the commercial portfolio at DXB and Dubai World Central (DWC), said revenues are also 12 per cent ahead of 2019. “We are forecasting a very positive Q4 this year, and the outlook for next year is positive as well.”

What next after ‘revenge-travel’

Last year saw a surge in ‘revenge travel’, when the world over travelers were willing to ditch their hesitation or concerns about flying in the aftermath of Covid. Now, travel patterns have stabilized, much like in 2019, said Barry.

“We’re partnering with a third-party to assess our assets, aligning with traveller expectations and Dubai International Airport’s guest experience programme. This shapes our hotel strategy toward 2030.”

Flexible pricing

A 1-3 hour stay in a deluxe double room costs Dh403, while a 4-6 hour stay is priced at Dh690. A 7-12-hour stay goes for Dh805, and a 13-24-hour stay on November 13 is Dh1,150. “We follow the same revenue management guidelines as any other hotel - supply and demand,” said Barry.

Beyond hotel rooms, Barry said airport hotel guests can expect more flexibility in terms of pricing. “We can certainly offer that in terms of flexible or tiered rates because every traveller has a different itinerary,” he said.

DXB is continually exploring additional services, including leisure and entertainment options like the newly introduced gaming lounge, which align with changing post-pandemic guest expectations.

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On regional geopolitics impacting demand: "Post-pandemic, (prioritizing) people's health and safety has become part of our DNA. We are a global business; so if something is impacting the region that's usually an upswing from elsewhere. But we have to be ready. Also, people want to still travel," said Barry. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Hotel occupancy

Barry said that the hotel doesn’t track traditional nightly stays. Instead, they offer bookings by hours — three-, six-, nine-, or 12 hours — though guests often stay longer based on their itinerary. “The hotel follows industry standards for revenue per available room and average rates,” he said.

“We often reach full capacity, but stays vary, sometimes lasting just a few hours due to frequent room turnovers, usually twice daily.”

Most transit passengers stay under 12 hours, with the popular range being six- to nine hours, attracting planned and walk-in guests.

The hotel is gearing up for a busy Q4 with the upcoming COP28. “We have a lot of business traffic and delegates coming through here,” said Barry. “We also had the same phenomenon during Expo 2020,” said Barry.

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Dubai International Hotel's revenue has grown by 15% since last year. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Most popular guests

While the hotel primarily serves Emirates transit passengers, flydubai customers departing from Terminal 3 are also welcome to use the hotel. The Dubai International Hotel started in Concourse C in 2000 with 88 rooms. It then expanded to Concourse B in 2008 and Concourse A in 2013.

According to Barry, the hotel’s growth paralleled Dubai Airports and Emirates’ expansion.

On whether the regional geopolitical issues would dampen demand, Barry said that the airport business is remarkably resilient. “Hotels with businesses within airports are used to ups and downs,” he said. “Whether it’s a financial crisis, pandemic, or tension in the region, we’re used to this. It’s built into managing an airport or a business inside an airport.”

“It doesn’t affect our day-to-day business - we plan forward all the time.”

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The hotel offers diverse room types: standard, Deluxe, family, adjoining, and presidential suites. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Open for UAE residents too
Dubai International Hotel primarily extends its welcome to transit passengers through DXB - but it’s also open to UAE residents.

“We are planning a special offer for UAE residents, allowing early check-ins, ideal for those with late-night flights or families with young kids during the busy holiday season in December,” said Barry.