CEO, Dining & Nightlife Abu Dhabi, Michael Hine
Have you always been an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, even from a young age. When I was younger, I decided that I wanted to buy this red BMX bike, it was the coolest bike to have at the time. My parents would make me do chores to save enough money to buy it, however I soon realized that it was going to take a while to save. One day I overheard the window cleaners speaking to my mother and I realized that I could make more money window cleaning. That day I got my bucket and went door to door undercutting the window cleaners, I quickly made enough money to buy the red BMX. It was at that point that I felt empowered and confident enough to always pursue my own vision.
How did you become the CEO of Dining & Nightlife?
My wife was working in hospitality and she was complaining that a publication had placed her restaurant advert next to a vacuum cleaner advert and due to the positioning of the advert it reflected badly on her hotel brand. I remember saying to her just advertise somewhere else, that’s when we realised that there wasn’t a publication that was fully focused on Dining & Nightlife in Abu Dhabi, so we decided, along with our partner to do something about that, and from that Dining & Nightlife was created and I became the CEO.
Talk us through a typical day in the life of Michael Hine?
I wake up around 6.00am and normally finish work at around 11.00pm. I always start my day by exercising, it’s important to try and stay healthy. I then have a conference call with my business partners and head off to meetings. Most of my time is spent meeting people. I’m a big believer in building a relationship with all my clients. I’m lucky to have some fantastic clients so meeting them doesn’t feel like work.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur starting a business?
Get ready to work the hardest you have ever worked in your life. When you work for someone you can have the odd day where you procrastinate, as an entrepreneur you can’t do that, if you don’t work you don’t get paid, that’s the harsh reality. Forget holidays, forget sick days and that party on the weekend, cancel it. If you are serious about starting your own business, you have to be ready to make some very big sacrifices.
What exciting projects have you recently worked on?
Our new app Dining & Nightlife Discounts, which is in soft launch and Abu Dhabi Food Festival. In December the team and I had the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi for the third year. We worked closely with the team for Abu Dhabi Food Festival. It’s a great experience and every year the food festival is going from strength to strength.
How would you describe the people in your organisation?
Driven, its one key element I look for when employing someone. They need to have a get up and go attitude, I like people who find solutions not excuses. I work hard myself, so I expect my team to do the same, I’d never ask anyone to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.
What are you working on right now that excites you?
The Dining & Nightlife Discounts app. It’s been in the making for over 2 years and we are happy to see it live. Users can avail a range of discounts from dining deals, brunch bargains, last minute offers, exclusive experiences and nightlife.
Discounting is a hot topic right now, especially in the F&B industry, some are for, whilst some are against, what’s your opinion on the subject?
Discounts are here to stay, that’s the reality. We have a discounting culture, people actively seek a discount, it dictates where most people dine. I had a restaurant at the start of the year inform me that they wouldn’t be taking part in the Dining & Nightlife Discounts app because instead of discounting they were going to reduce the price of the menu. A few weeks later they came back and signed up. Customers don’t look at the prices on the menu they look at the percentage of the discount given. It has become the norm and therefore it will never change. I know some restaurants that have stopped discounting and the restaurant next to them has then increased their discounts, leaving the other restaurant totally empty.
Some people have said why should restaurants offer discounts when so many are closing?
I don’t see how the two are related, if a restaurant is closing there are several factors that could be at play, bad food, terrible service, location or lack of marketing. Discounts should be used to drive footfall and revenue. Like anything when used right it’s a great way to highlight your venue for very little cost.
Follow Michael on Instagram UAESocialite