"In December 2017, when the Emir of Qatar and the President of France went into the IDAM, the Doha Museum of Islamic Art’s restaurant, together, this event was like a showcase for our French-Qatari restaurant, which belongs to the Qatari government and is run by Chef Alain Ducasse. The museum itself opened in 2008. It belongs to the State. The Emir’s sister manages it.
I’m a Vatel alumnus in charge of the restaurant’s marketing and communication and am pleased to tell you about its specificities; some of them can be generalized to all restaurant services in museums, wherever they are.
I’d like to start by highlighting its best quality: the museum’s restaurant is a unique venue, mirroring the museum which is its raison d’être. Ours is Islam’s golden era. Philippe Starck, the French designer, added a hint of surrealism and poetry.
Part of our clients are Qatari. The vast majority though are foreigners who live in Qatar. Foreign tourists sometimes stop over here and discover the IDAM.
Though the restaurant cannot serve alcoholic beverages, which can only be served in hotel restaurants, our cuisine is inspired by local flavors, designed by Alain Ducasse and made with French and regional ingredients, under the supervision of Damien Leroux, our head chef. The restaurant thus proudly promotes the Ducasse brand.
These qualities are nonetheless accompanied by weak points, particularly that of existing only because of the museum, which also brings a part of its client base to the IDAM. But that’s the case for all museum restaurants.
Increasing our reputation means enjoying long-term relationships with other tourist facilities, in particular hotels. Though we don’t work on a commissions basis, they do send us clients. These are for instance local families, who, because they like to do this, often stay in hotels in Qatar.
Just like everyone else, we have a budget to respect. In Qatar, we use social networking and public relations to develop our communication strategy. And I must say that having a strong visibility on our social networks is very profitable: we’ve got over 400,000 followers on Twitter! And as I said before, Emmanuel Macron’s visit also helped us take advantage of a real campaign. The number of reservations has increased since this date. On a daily basis, bloggers, journalists and social networking influencers contact us about the museum and its restaurant, wanting to know more about our culture and our gastronomy. That also creates a unique communication model that other museums can utilize. Museums are atypical venues where you might not come just to eat, but where everyone can enjoy fantastic and reproducible culinary experiences. That is our challenge, but also our passion.”