In The Hot Seat – Aleksandar Josipovic
Team TMN catch up with Aleksandar Josipovic, Head of Sales, Marketing and Communications at Atelier M Restaurant, Lounge and Rooftop, who talks about his role and what he thinks of marketing and communications in the Middle East’s F&B industry…
Name: Aleksandar Josipovic
Current job title: Head of Sales, Marketing and Communications at Atelier M Restaurant, Lounge and Rooftop
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
Where did you work prior?
I established Aleksandar Consulting in 2002 and launched its operations in Paris, Amsterdam and Dubai. After moving to the UAE I most recently worked with New Life Media Group as Head of Sales, Marketing and Communications before taking up my current role.
What were your first impressions of the marketing industry in the Middle East?
I do remember saying to myself, ‘It isn’t good or bad. It is what it is.’
Has your opinion changed much?
I still have the same opinion as yesterday, but today I’m focused on the good!
Tell us about your current role…
My role is to lead the entire sales, marketing and communications department at Atelier M Restaurant, Lounge and Rooftop. My responsibilities include, traditional and digital marketing, communications, sales, public relations, social media, budgeting, business development, event management, recruitment, training and being involved in all operations. Like everyone in Dubai, you end up becoming an octopus!
What challenges do you face?
That a day lasts for only 24 hours.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Meeting people. I’m always curious about different stories and cultures as well as building connections.
How would you rather be contacted at work?
Email. I am one of the rare professionals in Dubai and the GCC that will respond to every single email he receives.
How has marketing in the UAE’s F&B industry evolved in today’s digital community?
Many businesses in the F&B industry have capitalised on social media marketing trends. The same goes for Atelier M, just like other F&B brands, we have looked into how to leverage digital, social and mobile technologies to achieve growth.
What role do journalists and influencers play in the hospitality and F&B industry’s marketing and communication’s strategies today?
Now, this is a tricky and challenging question! When you invite journalists, many of them don’t respond to emails. For example, once when I invited an editor of a big publication I had to chase him for 18 months after which he then showed up. Another occasion was once when I invited a blogger and she replied six months later. A lot of these bloggers also have fake followers and don’t all write blogs — they might have an agreement with you one day and after two weeks they will delete the post and advertise some potato peeler.
It’s challenging to find real brand ambassadors that have work ethics and professionalism for certain products, venues etc. The best thing to do is to count on yourself and your own creativity. I might be wrong, but from my experience and having worked with people from show business and even the royal family here — they are much more accessible compared to some people in Dubai.
How has social media in the region evolved to become an integrated part of the sales performance and marketing strategies?
Social media has played a crucial role in the industry today. Marketing concepts such as social media marketing for F&B business is not the same for retail because our job includes inviting people to discover and try out our menus in the restaurant, lounge and/or the rooftop. While with cosmetic products for example, I can get it directly online without leaving my bedroom.
The reality is that almost two-thirds of our business comes from repeat guests. This is why our priority is to increase the frequency of our loyal guests and encourage them to bring more people. Personalisation of our guests’ experience is also a critical success factor these days.
The truth is that at the end, it is your product that determines your success. If you do not have a good product – you do not have a good business.
What’s the biggest mistake to avoid in marketing that can damage a restaurant’s image today?
So many things, for example, poor planning or even continuous discounting. Discounting can be an effective strategy to generate trial and limited time offers (LTO) as well as to drive additional traffic at critical times. What many marketers fail to understand, however, is that discounting can actually become a restaurant’s worst enemy as well.
How would you describe yourself at work?
I’m simply a happy-go-lucky-larger-than-life unicorn who just loves kicking butt at what he does.
Describe yourself in five words…
Grateful, thankful and action-reaction unicorn.
What inspires you?
Creativity, nature, honesty, art, dance and travel.
What’s your most overused saying?
Let’s do it!
Five things you can’t live without?
Creativity, nature, honesty, art and people
If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?
I never say my wishes publicly.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
Something linked with action and communication. I am action-reaction guy.
What’s your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the F&B industry in the UAE?
You should start working for a professional and competent company with a clear vision and mission, but that is also flexible internally.
Be sure to check their profit and loss statement, as it is crucial to find out if the company pays salaries on time. I know that my answer might not be popular to those from our industry, but you would be shocked at how many F&B companies do not pay salaries on time, or give only one-third of the salary, which is not acceptable by UAE law.