Hospitality In The Middle East: State-of-the-Art, Challenges & Opportunities

By Mario Candeias General Manager, Espinas Hotels | October 28, 2018

The Middle East is a region of culture, passion, emotion, ambition… and turmoil!

In Tourism and Hospitality terms, it has taken steps to position itself in the forefront of this industry. The road to get there has been bumpy and asymmetric.

From high-end Dubai (UAE) to struggling Syria, the tourism scene has always been challenging. Some for competitiveness and debt reasons, others for political reasons.

Past the Oil & Gas industry, for the ones fortunate (or troubled) enough to have it, Tourism has played and will continue playing a major role in the development of these countries, as the only credible alternative industry, with potential enough to raise the standards of living of most middle easterners, fastest.

But even given all the hype, marketing, advertising and, in some cases, pharaonic domestic and foreign investment, there are challenges and opportunities ranging from Saudi Arabia to Iran, or from Oman all the way up to Syria.

The UNWTO registers nowadays approximately 60 million international arrivals into the Middle East, up from 22.5 million in year 2000. Good number? It could be better.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.