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Interview: Marriott’s Michel Nader on creative digital solutions for the F&B industry

The Marriott Area Vice President explains the benefits of the brand’s More Cravings app

Not content to be one of the world’s most prolific hotel operators, Marriott International is also a leading operator of restaurants and bars in the Middle East and Africa, offering a diverse collection of dynamic and authentic experiences.

We caught up with Marriott’s area vice president Michel Nader to find out more about the group’s newly launched dining application and how the brand is leaning into creative digital solutions.

Connecting Travel: What inspired the creation of the More Cravings app?
Michel Nader: More Cravings proposes to be a solution to all pre-dining needs, including menu availability and table reservations all available at your fingertips. With morecravings.com, the online dining platform, and now the app, we have enabled our customers to unlock a world of endless dining experiences at the click of a button. 

Despite the competitive marketplace for digital dining applications, our interactive app also aims to take the complication and tedium out of choosing somewhere to eat.

It aspires to make finding the ideal restaurant an exciting and entertaining activity. As many UAE restaurant goers know, there are numerous apps which offer deals, and often it can grow confusing and tiresome, but our app will counteract this.

a range of options

CT: How is More Cravings different from other food-focussed apps?
MN: Unlike other dining apps, the More Cravings app provides an integrated digital customer experience. Users see venue details including an image gallery, location and contact details, and they can browse the menus before they arrive and book a table with one click.

Our innovative ‘Shake it. Crave it’ feature prompts dining suggestions and offers in the vicinity, which drives engagement

Additionally, an array of attractive offers, such as two-for-one offers, is available entirely free of charge. 

The app also hosts an extensive list of 19 dietary categories, including kosher, dairy-free and gluten-free.

CT: Why is Dubai primed for an app like this?
MN: Dubai is a hub for innovation and one of the key markets from an F&B perspective. With over 200 nationalities residing in the UAE and millions of international tourists a year, the More Cravings dining app serves as a one-stop-shop covering our portfolio of over 300 restaurants in the UAE.

CT: Is More Cravings aimed more at tourists or residents?
MN: The website morecravings.com is available across 800 venues in 19 markets and in three languages. The app has launched exclusively in the UAE for now. It is mainly designed for local resident diners, as dining out is part of the country’s DNA. However, for those tourists looking to explore the local foodie scene, the app can be downloaded free of charge and it will provide tourists with the same dining suggestions and most updated offers in their vicinity while enjoying their vacation.

Across the Marriott restaurant portfolio in the UAE, travellers can enjoy the Dine Around offer by More Cravings. With this package, guests booking their stay at any of the participating hotels of Marriott Bonvoy in the UAE, can choose to dine at more than 130 restaurants within those Marriott hotels as part of their package, from Akira Back, Bussola and Bleu Blanc to Indego by Vineet, Sontaya and Oak Room.

Bleu Blanc, The St. Regis Downtown DubaiBleu Blanc, The St Regis Downtown Dubai

CT: How is the app performing?
MN: The response since the app launch has been very promising. It’s still early to draw any final conclusions but looking at some key metrics about customer satisfaction such as ratings and reviews, we are faring fairly high with an average rating of 4.5 across both the Android and the iOS app stores.

We are also seeing a promising increase month-on-month regarding offer redemptions, which means that customers are not just downloading our app but are actively using it.

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CT: Have the venues listed on the app experienced an increase in footfall?
MN: We’re seeing a solid download increase for the app but given we have launched just over two months ago we’re still building brand awareness and product knowledge with the local audience. We will need to consider a few more months of data before drawing more concrete trends and insights.

CT: Do you have any other F&B developments in the pipeline?
MN: For now, our focus remains on building on the foundation of this app and enhancing and elevating the offering based on the customer feedback we are receiving. We would consider making the app available in Arabic, as the website already provides that feature. This will significantly help our positioning with the Arabic-speaking residents and tourists that frequent the UAE, particularly during key holiday periods.

Furthermore, expanding into other key F&B markets, such as Doha or Riyadh, are also a consideration given the dynamic and fast-paced dining scene that is developing there. And, last but not least, we’re looking to have some more fun with the gamification feature of the ‘Shake it. Crave it’ function.

For more information, visit www.morecravings.com

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