Making the travel experience more customised, interactive and with value-added benefits for guests are likely to be the big three trends influencing the hotel industry within the Middle East in 2011, according to Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.
Andreas Mattmüller, Chief Operating Officer for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Middle East & Asia said the hotel industry will face growing challenges to provide customised experiences and face tighter lead times for bookings as available airline capacity means travellers can look for last-minute offers.
He notes more travellers are taking short haul trips at the expense of long-haul destinations – although in bound business from India and Asia will continue to grow significantly. “The Asian market will be a prominent and major player in the tourism sector in 2011, and will even increase and solidify on 2012 and beyond,” he said.
Personalised services and added value were also identified as key factors as price-conscious travellers continue to look for opportunities.
“Guest service customization will continue to be critical,” said Toufic Tamim, Vice President Sales & Marketing Middle East. “We must move from a hotel-centric to a guest-centric approach. Guests will expect their stay to be personalised around a set of choices on offer in order to tailor their visit to their own preferences. Guests are demanding much more from their travels and looking for one-of-a-kind, enriching experiences.”
Roger MacFarlaine, Vice President IT, Middle East & Asia, added that the main trend is towards hotel-specific mobile applications, exploring how hand-held devices can transform the guest experience – and again, it’s all set to get personal.
“Since travellers look for immediacy and efficiency in hotel services the mobile apps, apart from making hotel reservations, are going to cater for a more personalised approach with choices of food and beverage and room amenities that guests can select prior to their arrival and during their stay,” he said. “Hotels will increasingly look to new technologies to drastically increase efficiency, personalise the customer experience and improve service.”
Peter Drescher, Vice President Food and Beverage, Middle East and Asia, believes there is a growing need and desire for guests to know more about the origins and quality of their food. “We will be working on an organic option for all our hotels throughout the Middle East & Asia, giving environmentally concerned guest the opportunity to get naturally grown and produced foods.”
The omens appear more favourable this year for those working at the front end of the industry, reckons Craig Cochrane- Vice President Human Resources, Middle East & Asia. “We’re seeing job security starting to return, salary freezes being lifted, as well as delayed hotels opening.”