Will GCC Hospitality 2018 get a new facelift?

December 11, 2017 3:19 pm

Jumeirah Beach Hotel, after 21 years of being iconic, now wants to be remodelled to bring about new guest experiences in 2018.

The hotel decided to do such modifications two years ago. From May 2018, the hotel will actually refrain from taking on guests while it refurbishes 425 guest bedrooms and public spaces.

The sector is growing in the GCC and forecast to reach $36bn by 2018 according to a recent report by investment bank Alpen Capital.

But it needs Jumeirah’s type of thinking ahead to continue thriving especially as a global trend for hospitality will materialise in 2018 for luxury hotels.

How will you perception and experience change in luxury hospitality?

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Five star facelifts

Bloomberg recently talked to heads of luxury brands at Marriott and Hilton, plus leading industry experts and reported that in response to the many geo-political, sociological, and technological changes that took place in 2017, five-star hotels are making changes.

It said that technology is top of mind for everyone right now with investment in IoT applications like temperature control units, or showers that remember guests’ water temperatures, wall art that is interchangeable with family portraits, and video mirrors.

Bloomberg said that check-in desks will disappear giving way to less formal and more intimate transactions with living room like check-in areas, full with loveseats and relaxing furniture.

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Hotels, will also focus more on wellness, a trillion dollar industry, says Bloomberg, where you get your pick between ballet, yoga, wellness rooms with de-chlorinating showers and meditation videos.

“Based on a recent survey of 5,000 Marriott guests, Edmundson says that “about 80 percent of respondents agreed that improving their physical and emotional well-being is more of a focus for them today than it was three years ago—sleep improvement, new diets, and meditation all scored high in terms of what travelers had participated in over the past 12 months,” reported Bloomberg.

Finally digital tours will take center stage as hotels will now attempt to fill up their itineraries with experiences and activities such as Marriott’s strategic investment in PlacePass, which unlocks 100,000 walking tours, biking excursions, and culinary classes in 800 destinations around the world.

ok, but while the GCC adapts to these and begins to adopt them, it still got work to do to fill rooms.

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Indian millennials

Indian online travel portal Yatra.com revealed that out of 1,592 respondents, 66% said they would only be planning to travel for just seven days or less, at a time, but they would however, travel more frequently, with 43% of those surveyed were millennials.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market show said: “There are more than 400 million millennials in India. In terms of short break deals and offers this is sure to alert travel professionals and hoteliers throughout the GCC, being in such close proximity to their Indian neighbour. The travel time from Mumbai to Dubai, in particular, is just over three hours, and from Mumbai to Muscat, just under three hours, putting both cities on the radar as prime short break destinations.”

Currently there are 18 daily direct flights from Mumbai to Dubai, 11 to Abu Dhabi, six to Oman, four to Kuwait, three to Riyadh and two each to Jeddah and Bahrain. Dubai, in particular, was revealed in the survey as a prime destination for Indian travelers, according to ATM.

“In the first nine months of 2017 there were 1.478 million Indian visitors to the emirate, an increase of 20% from the corresponding period in 2016,” it said.

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The survey also revealed that the preferred choice of accommodation were budget hotels, a segment that the tourist boards around the region are now focused on, along with mid-market hotels.

Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “India has been a key market for us, as we continue to welcome visitors, especially millennials and entrepreneurs, on short and long-haul stays in our properties. The findings of the survey will further energise the UAE’s hospitality sector to diversify their offering – as we do at Emaar Hospitality Group – to offer unique choices that appeal to the young travellers.”

Business and leisure travel

The growth of the industry in the region will be witness a rise in not only leisure, but also higher demand for serviced apartments, a shift towards budget travel and business, according to Alpen Capital in Qatar.

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A stronger MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] segment is now made possible as the GCC has made major investments in expanding airports.

“For instance, in Dubai, an AED117.5 bn ($32bn) expansion of Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central is expected to begin in 2018 and have the ability to welcome 120 million passengers within six to eight years.

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce said that a total of 14.9 million leisure and business travellers visited the UAE in 2016, representing a 4.9 percent increase from the previous year.



Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.