IS VALUE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR HOTEL GUESTS?
Travellers to the UAE and residents within the country are all looking for value deals when it comes to booking a stay at a hotel, experts at the 20th edition of The Hotel Show Dubai said on Tuesday.
The exhibition was inaugurated by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman & chief executive of Emirates Airline & Group, and chairman of Dubai Airports. The event for hospitality professionals is taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, alongside The Leisure Show, Index, Index Home, Workspace, Surface Design Middle East, FIM, and FM Expo. All eight shows will run until September 19, 2019 as part of the Middle East Design and Hospitality Week (MEDHW 2019), under the theme ‘The Shape of Things to Come’.
Speaking at the Hospitality Leadership Forum in a panel session, several experts highlighted the importance of the mid-market segment in the evolution of the UAE’s hospitality industry.
“We have seen that there is a huge demand among travellers for value, not only in the leisure but also in the business travel segment,” said Nayla Chowdhury, general manager at the Hampton by Hilton Dubai Airport. “Dubai has become more inclusive as a destination with the rise of mid-market hotels. I believe that there was a bit of a gap previously, because people felt that Dubai was classified as an expensive destination, but the mid-market has filled in that gap. Since our opening a year ago, we have recorded a substantial ramp up and we have been able to run fairly high occupancies in a market which is crowded with a lot of brands and products.”
Manuel Garcia, general manager at the Millennium Place Marina, also highlighted the state of the hospitality market in Dubai and spoke about how the city had provided a platform for many international brands to showcase their different offerings over the years.
“There is no shortage of competition because Dubai is a city that has always been a destination for hospitality companies to showcase their different hotels and resorts,” he said. “Right now, the hotel pipeline in the city is increasing and we are looking at the addition of 139,000 keys next year, which is substantial. However, what this means is that we have to look at our strategies to attract visitors; you have to look at the benefits that you can offer your visitors.”
Similarly, Sharihan Al Mashary, general manager at the Manzil Downtown, spoke about the importance of focusing on the strength of the brand and what it offers to visitors, especially during challenging market conditions. “Invest in your workforce, and I don’t mean increasing head count, but proving training sessions and programmes for your staff; this leads to a motivated staff, which leads to happy customers. In addition, look at what sets you apart as a brand. At Manzil Downtown we embrace our Emirati heritage and have launched many community events that celebrate our traditions, such as poetry gatherings.”
According to analysts STR, the UAE continued to dominate the Middle East’s hotel construction pipeline in July with 54,438 rooms, which represented 31.8 per cent of the market’s existing supply. This is followed by Saudi Arabia with 41,207 rooms. Lodging Econometrics forecasts that the Middle East will have 38,270 new hotel rooms in 2021.
Nathan Waugh, portfolio director at dmg events, said: “In the Middle East, Dubai alone has a robust pipeline of new hotels and the existing ones are undergoing refurbishment as the emirate gets ready to host 25 million visitors in six months starting October 2020. Hotel executives in the GCC, like their counterparts worldwide, realise that it is not enough to just sell access to rooms and beds but rather to offer a complete experience which caters to a variety of expectations.”