New technology will help hoteliers keep pace with innovation
Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP of Operations and Development at Swiss-Belhotel International, said that the hospitality industry has seen massive disruptions over the past few years.
Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing will play a vital role in helping hoteliers keep up with the pace of innovation that is sweeping across the hospitality industry, experts at the HITEC Dubai 2018 exhibition and conference said.
The event was officially inaugurated on Wednesday morning by Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), and drew the participation of several of the world's leading hospitality experts and technology providers.
Speaking during the opening session Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP of Operations and Development at Swiss-Belhotel International, said that the hospitality industry has seen massive disruptions over the past few years. "The hospitality industry has witnessed various disruptions that include an increasing rate of digitisation, the rising share of online travel agents (OTAs), the emergence of Airbnb, changing customer demographics, the rise of emerging markets like China, India, and Africa, the mergers and acquisitions of several big brands, and an explosion of new brands including local hotels. We will see more change in the next 10 years than what we saw in the last 250 years. The disruptors are growing at a rate of 10-30 per cent per year, while the hotel business is growing by three to five per cent."
The challenge, he said, is for hospitality brands to keep up with the pace of change. This will be especially critical in Dubai, as the city gears itself up to host the Expo 2020 event.
"Expo 2020 is driving growth in Dubai, with the city aiming to have 160,000 hotel rooms to welcome 25 million visitors. The tourism and hospitality sector is predicted to sustain its share of the UAE's GDP at 5.4 per cent over the next 10 years. According to the UNWTO, the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is expected to receive over 195 million tourists by 2030. To cater to this demand, there are 618 hotel projects currently under development in the region that will yield 238,963 new rooms," Voivenel said.
Furthermore, he explained that emerging technologies like Virtual reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Blockchain, and 3D printing are all taking their first steps in the Middle East, and would have an even bigger role to play in the region's hospitality industry in the coming years. "We have seen a shift in the way that we are using technology across the industry. It is interesting to note that technology buyers across the Middle East are worth over $75 billion today."
However, despite the increasing rate of technology adoption, Manfred Kaiser, regional vice president, Oracle Hospitality, said that hospitality remains a "people business."
"Operators have to look at how they can utilise technology to do a better job with their guests," he said. "Cloud adoption in the hospitality industry is growing, however, there are still plenty of opportunities for improvement that we are not looking at. Cloud will be the key to create customer intimacy; it allows you to stay at the pace of innovation and it also allows you to integrate with a variety of data systems that you can use to improve the guest experience."