Industry Update
Press Release26 February 2017

Top 10 Catalysts For Change Impacting Middle East Hotels

Ahead of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, an exclusive webinar with key speakers at the event identifies 10 trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the hospitality investment landscape

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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai

Hospitality industry experts shared their insights on trends, opportunities and challenges ahead of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2017 (AHIC), being held at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai from April 25 to 27, in a series of exclusive webinars.


The experts included Khalid Anib, CEO, Abu Dhabi National Hotels, who will be speaking at AHIC on the subject of 'Abu Dhabi in the Spotlight'; Richard Thompson, Editorial Director at MEED, who will moderate the Hotel CEO panel session entitled 'Catalysts for Change; and Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and co-organiser of AHIC, who will host a live interview with Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, AccorHotels in the closing session for AHIC 2017.

The 10 top trends, covering everything from distribution and disruptors to artificial intelligence and innovation, are highlighted with video testimonials, here:

1.  Diversification of tourism revenue

Following the decline in oil price that shaped the economic outlook for the Middle East in 2016, hospitality markets with a reliance on business from the Oil & Gas and Government sectors, such as Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh, experienced a decline in room revenue. Thus, these markets needed to diversify their target segments and revenue sources, as Khalid Anib, CEO, Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH), explains.

For more on this topic, don't miss the session entitled 'The 2017 Macroeconomic Outlook for Middle East Hospitality on 26 April at AHIC.

2.  Demand for more affordable, quality accommodation

Aligned with the current economic outlook for the Middle East and many of its target markets, including Europe and Asia, the industry is experiencing demand for more affordable accommodation. More quality upscale and mid-market accommodation is expected to come online to meet this need. ADNH, owner of some of the UAE's most luxurious resorts including The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas and The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, is seeking to develop in the entry-level five-star segment, as CEO Khalid Anib reveals. This topic will be debated in depth at AHIC in the session entitled 'The Investment Climate Warms Up to the Mid-Market'.

3.  The distribution battle rumbles on

Owners argue that it's time for operators to address the ongoing cost of OTA commissions and take innovative, proactive measures to drive direct bookings. Operators need to engage with the consumer and understand better what drives the customer to book online. Otherwise, from the owner's perspective, these commissions are not only painful; they also significantly reduce the operator's value proposition. According to Khalid Anib, operators need to take initiative to bring back the value of distribution to the owners.

4.  A New Era of disruptors

Jonathan Worsley, Chairman at Bench Events, observes that tools are coming into the market to help operators offer transparent rates and bring confidence back to the consumer. Worsley says hotels are beginning to move in the right direction and drive back distribution to their business models, helped by the recent merger and acquisition activity in the industry.

5.  Operating model efficiency under fire

The current business environment provides opportunity for hotel brands to revise their operating models. According to Khalid Anib at ADNH, they need to put aside historical trends and focus on how to become efficient in the current market scenario. Here, Anib recommends operators in the UAE follow the example of hotels in Paris or London when it comes to staffing, or alternatively, consider clustering.

6.  An Explosion of Brands

We have witnessed an explosion of brands in the hotel marketplace in recent times, a trend that has defied industry critics who have long argued that the market is saturated. From the consumer perspective, there has never been as much choice in the lifestyle sector, with both independent, niche operators launching boutique brands and the large chains also competing in this space with their own products, spearheaded some years ago by Starwood's successful debut and growth of W. Here's our panellists' take on the trend.

7.  Artificial Intelligence

Looking forward at the trends set to impact hospitality investment and development over the next five to 10 years and Jonathan Worsley identifies artificial intelligence as one to watch. It's a sensitive topic and one that will be addressed at AHIC's first-ever Pecha Kucha night on 25 April, where leading designers and entrepreneurs will present their insights on the 'hotel of the future'.

8.. Staffing and superstars

When forecasting the outlook for the Middle East hospitality industry, hotel development needs to be considered alongside talent development, of both the global hospitality workforce and local GCC nationals looking to make a career in the industry. Jonathan Worsley discusses the role models for future hoteliers as he ponders where future heroes will come from.

9.  Smart development

From feasibility and concept creation through to operations and staffing, smart development will be critical for the future of the Middle East hospitality industry. This includes capitalising on the digital revolution to develop a business that can be streamlined or up scaled when needed, says ADNH's Khalid Anib. Don't miss the Pecha Kucha presentations at AHIC on 'Building Smart Hotels' to get insights from more experts on the topic.

10.  Innovation, but not to reach the moon!

Finally, looking forward, the desire for innovation remains one of the top priorities for hotel owners and investors. However, they are quick to point out it shouldn't be innovation for the sake of change, but innovation to help determine efficiency, manage cost components and drive revenue. It's time to forget historic business performance and adapt to the new normal, say the experts.

Current innovations, game changers, and disruptors will be discussed further at AHIC 2017 in the opening CEOs' panel session, being held on the morning of 26 April and featuring Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer, Jumeirah Group; Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group; Steven Daines, COO New Businesses and CEO HotelServices Africa and Middle East, AccorHotels; and Jean-Gabriel Pérès, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kerzner International.

This session will tackle the impact of the ongoing digital revolution, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), the advent of the sharing economy and the changing face of the consumer on today's hotel businesses. The speakers will share their insights, learning and predictions on these so-called disruptors.

For registrations and for more information, visit:

Contact: Frances Barton, Media Relations Director, In2 Consulting; [email protected]; Office: +971 4 455 8499; Mobile: +971 50 650 3900

About Bench Events

Global event organiser Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 13th year, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Summit in London and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC).

Bench Events' extensive portfolio also includes the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Dubai and AviaDev, designed to promote the future air connectivity in Africa.

Bench Events' mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide.

About MEED

For 50 years business leaders have been relying on MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) to give them a wealth of factual, unbiased business information that they need to be successful. The MEED brand represents an unrivalled portfolio of high calibre business information products, online services and premier networking events. MEED Conferences is part of the leading information brand in the Middle East working to provide delegates with the very latest business sensitive information. Over the past 12 years, MEED Conferences has organised events attended by senior government officials and thousands of international business people.

The conference series is aimed at companies actively seeking business in the markets of the Middle East. MEED is well established as the source of strategic and accurate regional information placing it in a unique position to bring together high-calibre speakers.


Sponsors of AHIC 2017 are: Al Marjan Island, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Jumeirah Group, and Katara Hospitality as Platinum Sponsors; AccorHotels, Emaar Hospitality Group, Hilton, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), Marriott International, Bahrain Economic Development Board, Club Med, Wyndham Hotel Group, SMIT Morocco, and IFA Hotel Investments as Emerald Sponsors; Action Hotels, Alkamal International, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, HVS, Langham Hospitality Group, Egyptian Resorts Company, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, Jabal Omar Development,
Melia Hotels International, Louvre Hotels Group, Modul University Dubai, Shaza Hotels and STR as Gold Sponsors.

Related Event

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)2018

AHIC Village, Waldorf Astoria — Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
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Frances Barton
Media Relations Director, In2
Phone: +971 4 455 8500
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