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A new lounge… but no time to relax for Premium Plaza boss

Posted 19 June 2020 · Add Comment

The latest Premium Plaza Lounge opened in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 in January. The 1,260sqm facility is the third in the UAE, joining two at Abu Dhabi International.

Song Hoi See, founder and CEO of the Premium Plaza Group, is delighted with the new facility, which was created from shell and core at a cost of around AED10 million ($2.7m).
He said: “We were the first in the world to create lounges that are independent of the airport and the airlines. We are now in 46 international airports and have more than 160 locations worldwide.” Jill Stockbridge reports.

The concept was born from Song’s own frustration at the lack of facilities for business travellers on economy tickets.

He said: “I was in the airport for hours. I couldn’t charge my laptop, couldn’t send a fax, and it was frustrating. I thought 10-15% of the passengers are first and business class and the airlines take care of them. That leaves 85% that no-one is looking after. I need only a small percentage of that 85% to make the business model work.”

While maintaining a signature style, each lounge is tailored to the airport, with local culture reflected in the décor and facilities.

Song explained: “First we studied the nationalities of those coming to DXB. We found India is the major one, then Saudi Arabia, third China, fourth the UK and the fifth Oman. We studied the profile of the customers. In 2001, a study said 68% of the people travelling through Dubai Airport are married, and over half are with companions. This means families, children, wives.
“So we designed our lounge to meet the requirement of the customers. Our lounge is family orientated as per Arab culture. We have four or five private family rooms, each of which can accommodate six people. We also have a children’s room, where the youngsters can play. They will not disturb other visitors, and the parents can enjoy the facilities.

“Also, an outstanding element of the lounge is that all our food is freshly cooked. Food is a very important element in the lounge experience. Our concept of food is ‘glocal’ – global and local. We are in this country, and we must introduce some local food, but also cater for the international tastes.

“We have segregation in the lounge, because you don’t want to sit in the lounge resting and have someone eating next to you. We even create honeycomb seating, where you have an individual private area for working, or an individual cubical, where you can slide the door and take a nap.”

Premium Plaza is looking at further investment in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia of principal interest.

Song said: “Saudi has the greatest potential and the country is just beginning to open up. To be frank, the service industry there is still very primitive. Places, such as Dubai, have five-star service, and Saudi will grow towards that. The crown prince is very open about that.

“They also have a good population, so the market size is not limited, and they have money. I am looking for new opportunities in Damam and Riyadh, and I am looking very seriously at Jeddah and other major airports in the kingdom.”

The team will be expanding their service in Abu Dhabi this year, offering a meet-and-greet service when the Midfield Terminal opens. Song said: “The airport has realised we can do it more economically and has turned the concession over to us. We will have our own private check-in counter, immigration and customs. When the aircraft is ready, a car will shuttle you to the plane.
“Our meet-and-greet is an ambassador service. Our team talk to you, about the weather, places to go, things to see, where to find the best food. That is where we are strong. We know details. And the value of our service is in the details.”
 

 

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