Diverse customer-centric offerings to drive UAE hospitality sector

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Diverse customer-centric offerings to drive UAE hospitality sector
Dubai welcomed 4.1 million overnight visitors in the first three months of 2016, a 5.1% increase over the same period last year

Dubai - Technology will continue to have an impact on how travellers plan their vacations in the coming years

by

Rohma Sadaqat

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Published: Thu 12 May 2016, 9:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 15 May 2016, 10:43 AM

As technology, social media, and globalisation continue to impact the global hospitality market, it is important that regional tourism and hospitality markets adjust their offerings and strategies to cater to the needs of today's travellers accordingly, travel and tourism experts have highlighted.
Speaking in an interview, Alper Can Bulcum, cluster general manager for Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach and Ramada Sharjah, said that the hospitality industry is one of the most exciting and diverse industries, with continuous changes and adjustments being needed in order to keep up with trends.
"The UAE has embraced the changes and implemented them swiftly in the hospitality market, on occasion even striving ahead of its time. The growth of the hospitality industry in Dubai and the UAE has been remarkable. We see the demand growing and changing constantly. The hotel supply seems to be growing with diverse products in order to guarantee that the expectations of the visitors are met and to maintain the high demand," he said.
He added: "The UAE is constantly adding to its portfolio of attractions and places of interest, giving travellers more reasons to visit and appealing to a mass audience. Additionally, the UAE is a known melting pot of several nationalities from across the world, and depending on the political situation, seasonality, flight connections, and business affairs, we often find an array of different types of travellers in the country."
Dubai welcomed 4.1 million overnight visitors in the first three months of 2016, a 5.1 per cent increase over the same period last year, backed by strong double digit growth from its top two proximity markets, the GCC and India, according to figures released by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The GCC continued to be the destination's leading feeder region, delivering 25 per cent of all overnight visitation to Dubai in the first quarter.

Traveller trends in the region

Speaking on how things have changed in the tourism and hospitality industries today, Serge Zaalof, president and managing director of Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, pointed to the rise in short-term bookings. "For millennials, a five or six hour flight is a short haul trip. Customers have also become very independent travellers these days. Before many of them preferred to travel in groups, but now we will see a lot of people actually happy to travel alone to their dream destinations."
Another trend that he talked about was the rise in independent women travellers, who travelled with a friend or as a small group. "We have definitely noticed an increase in the number of women travelling alone, or with a friend or two, rather than with their family. Many of them come for a few days to relax and destress, often making multiple bookings at the hotel spa with their friends."
In addition, Zaalof also revealed that working couples in recent years have been increasingly taking short holidays separately. Many of them split their annual leave into one or two holidays to different places each year, so it was not uncommon to see a mother and daughter on a short holiday together, or a father spending a few days in an exotic location with his children.

Investments in technology increasingly important

Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer for India, the Middle East and Africa at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), noted that hospitality offerings in the UAE are very diverse. "The UAE and Dubai are all about offering diversity; you have more hospitality brands present here than anywhere else in the world. It's a young but progressive city which offers a lot of variety for travelers. Diversity of potential stay is what we need to continue bringing to the UAE. The market is definitely maturing, so we will continue to see a variety of offerings for different types of stays."
What will be important in the future are investments in technology, he stressed. "This is crucial in light of how guests are today planning their journey. We absolutely love to invest in technology because of how it helps our guests improve their experience with our brands. For us brands are very important, and we want to ensure that we are able to offer a branded experience to our customers for different occasions, whether it be a business trip, a family vacation, a staycation, or a quick leisure trip. Almost all our brands are well represented in the UAE," Gauvin said.
"There will be more variety available to customers as the supply of hotel rooms in the country increases. I see no issues with supply in the long term, because the UAE has a fantastic vision for the future. All the projects that will coming online in the next few years - including the Dubai Expo 2020 event, the various theme parks, and the growth of the various airlines in the region - will be the engine that will bring more people to Dubai. This is why, we as hoteliers in the region, can bring forward all our expansion plans with a good degree of confidence," he informed.
Asked about the group's expansion plans in the region, Gauvin said that the group had two Hotel Indigos in development, which will open in the next two to three years; as well as the group's first InterContinental resort opening in Fujairah.
Hotel Indigo is IHG's boutique brand and each Hotel Indigo property is designed to reflect the local neighbourhood it is located in. Due to open in 2018, the 170-room Hotel Indigo Dubai The Sustainable City will be part of Dubai's first sustainable integrated development. The hotel will be a Net Zero energy building, where 100 per cent of its energy needs will be met by solar power. All waste water produced by the hotel will be recycled, and all material waste will be sorted at source and then recycled. A solar powered shuttle bus transportation service will be available to guests of the hotel, ensuring they are well-connected to Downtown Dubai.
The complex will include residences, a green school, a community center, an equestrian centre, solar covered parking lots and an organic farm which will supply all the herbs the community needs, as well as tourist attractions such as a planetarium and a grass amphitheatre for hosting events
IHG has also signed a management agreement with Abu Dhabi-based Seba Properties for the development of the InterContinental Fujairah Resort, a new beachfront property in one of the UAE's most attractive tourist destinations. Expected to open in 2017, the 186-room hotel will be the first InterContinental beach resort property to open in the UAE and will establish a benchmark for quality and luxury amongst upscale resorts across the Middle East.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Hajar Mountains with breathtaking views across the Indian Ocean, the resort will consist of a series of low-rise Arabesque village-style buildings, giving it a sense of place that is unique to Fujairah. The property's design will combine contemporary design elements with strong Arab influences that reflect the local heritage and culture. The five-star property is set along Fujairah's two-kilometre coastline, on 69,500sqm of land.
- rohma@khaleejtimes.com
 

Customers have become very independent travellers these days. Before many of them preferred to travel in groups, but now we will see a lot of people actually happy to travel alone to their dream destinations, says Serge Zaalof, president and managing director of Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Customers have become very independent travellers these days. Before many of them preferred to travel in groups, but now we will see a lot of people actually happy to travel alone to their dream destinations, says Serge Zaalof, president and managing director of Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
The UAE is constantly adding to its portfolio of attractions and places of interest, giving travellers more reasons to visit and appealing to a mass audience, says Alper Can Bulcum, cluster general manager for Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach and Ramada Sharjah
The UAE is constantly adding to its portfolio of attractions and places of interest, giving travellers more reasons to visit and appealing to a mass audience, says Alper Can Bulcum, cluster general manager for Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach and Ramada Sharjah
The UAE and Dubai are all about offering diversity; you have more hospitality brands present here than anywhere else in the world, says Pascal Gauvin, COO at InterContinental Hotels Group
The UAE and Dubai are all about offering diversity; you have more hospitality brands present here than anywhere else in the world, says Pascal Gauvin, COO at InterContinental Hotels Group
IHG will soon add the 170-room Hotel Indigo Dubai The Sustainable City, and the 186-room InterContinental Fujairah Resort to its Middle East portfolio
IHG will soon add the 170-room Hotel Indigo Dubai The Sustainable City, and the 186-room InterContinental Fujairah Resort to its Middle East portfolio


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