Old school service
The Arkaba is a four-star hotel, located only five minutes from Adelaide’s CBD. They provide affordable luxury accommodation, a complete package of entertainment and function facilities, and an impressing array of dining options. Their excellence has been regularly rewarded with loyalty from customers and recognition from the industry – such as at the recent 2013 Australian Hotel Association Awards.
The Arkaba Hotel is owned by the Hurley Hotel Group, a family company directed by Peter and Jenny Hurley. The group consists of nine hotels, but the Hurley’s have owned the Arkaba in particular for more than 20 years. In that time, they have taken it from a slightly rundown building that had “outlived its heyday,” to the award-winning, highly popular destination it is today.
“Peter and Jenny breathed some new life into it, and brought it into the future with the renovations they’ve done,” explains Glen Aikmen, Marketing Manager for the group. “Hence the award we just won for Best Sporting Entertainment Venue, for our new Sportys Bar.”
Keeping customers interested
Before Peter and Jenny took over the Arkaba, the hotel was already “steeped in history,” Glen explains. The premises had become an icon in the area, and had earned a long legacy of hosting various feature events, and touring musicians and comedians. That legacy is one of the main factors that set the Arkaba apart.
“We’ve had a long history of giving customers what they want,” Glen says. “And we’re always trying to come up with something different to keep them interested in.”
That history only gets the hotel so far, however. That might get people in the door, but Glen says back it up by giving customers a really good experience once they are inside. That experience is what really sets the Arkaba apart.
“Quality of service is something we pride ourselves on,” he says. “We try to make sure we deliver over and above. We have a lot of different things we do in the hotel – food, beverage, accommodations, functions, et cetera – and we make sure we exceed people’s expectations for every one of them.”
“We have an old school pub mentality,” he adds. “In our bar, we like to get to know people by their first names, and remember their favorite drinks and foods. That’s one of the biggest things we try for – to get to know the customers one on one.”
That kind of personal service can be challenging, because people tend to be busy and time-poor and often don’t spent many hours a week in a bar. But the Arkaba strives to genuinely interact with them when they do visit, and make sure they’re well looked after. They also have an effective loyalty program, and a strong social media presence on Facebook and twitter, so even when people aren’t in the venue they can feel connected to it.
“We don’t get people coming in seven days a week, but we’ve built a good amount of loyalty,” Glen says. “On Facebook, we’ll often see people write ‘Oh, I haven’t been there for ages, I have to come back soon.’ So we’ve built an atmosphere where people can feel comfortable in, and where people are always happy to come back.”
Arkaba’s commitment to service has not gone unnoticed by the industry at large. As Glen mentioned, for example, their Sportys Bar + Arena recently received a 2013 AHA Award for Best Sporting Entertainment Venue. That makes for the sixth award of its kind the Sportys venue has received.
“That recognition means a lot because of all the hard work we put in,” Glen says. “It’s changed a lot of mentalities in our staff. They all feel like they’ve accomplished something. After we won, it was great to see people come in with smiles on their faces, and want to take a photo with the award. It was very gratifying to see that stuff happening.”
“Personally, I was very excited,” he adds. “I got a text from Peter, the owner, to tell me we won, and I jumped right on social media to share it with everyone. And it was great to see the feedback come flooding back in from staff and patrons alike.”
Glen credits the awards success to a variety of factors. For example, Sportys Bar + Arena has the ability to show five separate live sporting events at the same time, all with their own sound. They were able to accomplish that with the mezzanine layout of the room, which has two sporting lounges above, two sporting levels below, and an outdoor three metre screen.
That layout, combined with support from Fox Sports, means the venue can give customers the ability to watch the sport they want, and with sound. Sportys Bar + Arena was also one of the first venue’s to move to high definition, which they have on all of their TVs.
“It’s not just a destination for major sporting events in Australia, but we also have people come in to watch major U.S. sports in the day,” Glen says.
Even more, the Arkaba has formed valuable partnerships with local Adelaide teams, such as the Adelaide 36ers, the Adelaide United Football Club, and the Adelaide Strikers. Sportys Bar + Arena has acted as the official away game venue for all those teams.
Glen also credits the awards success to the hard work of the Arkaba’s staff – which numbers around 100 people, when you take into account the whole hotel.
“We’re a pretty tight family,” he says. “We have many employees who have been with us for many years. There was a lady who worked on our reception desk for 27 years. Our General Manager has been with us 15 years. There’s a lot of long-term talent here.”
That experience is valuable, Glen explains, because it translates into knowledge. The Arkaba’s staff knows their products, knows their foods, and knows their customers. They’ve seen trends come and go, so they know what works and what doesn’t, and where to devote their focus.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean the Arkaba is averse to trying new things. In fact, the Hurley Hotel Group is well known for their innovation. According to Glen, they are always looking at what they can do or change to give customers a better experience. That commitment to continuous improvement is how they turned Sportys Bar + Arena into an award-worthy venue – and a destination for people who want to watch sports.
“We want to make sure we continue to deliver quality,” Glen says. “We never want to rest on our laurels. The latest award has just made us more excited and more driven. It’s made us want to keep delivering great sporting entertainment and customer service.”
For more information, please visit their website at: Arkaba Hotel
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