A report released by Grant Thornton UAE on the first day of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Ras Al Khaimah revealed that hotels must speed up the shift to tech-enabled practices to remain relevant in a diluted market.
In 2017, hotel occupancy levels rose 0.5% to reach 75.1% in the UAE, but the proportion of the average daily rate dropped 3.8% in 2017. The report said that with new market entrants, the rise of online intermediaries and a challenging global travel landscape, brands that will survive will be the ones that can attract and anticipate the needs of the digitally native new traveller looking for authentic experiences.
The report, Hotel Re-Generate: Mega Trends Impacting Hotels, considers how hoteliers in the UAE can generate new business and grow their existing market.
Grant Thornton United Arab Emirates CEO and global board member Hisham Farouk said in a statement: "In the future, hotels will no longer be viewed as just accommodation providers. The modern traveller expects more, and will be attracted by a holistic set of solutions and bespoke packages. Hotels must leverage cutting edge technology to ensure every guest interaction is personalised and meaningful."
Online and mobile transactions are taking a larger share of the travel market, particularly given the demographics of the region in which 40% of the population is under 25, and with the UAE, a country where mobile phone penetration at 228%, is expected to launch 5G technology in 2018. Organisations that fail to be a part of the digital movement online will experience the loss of essential user-behaviour based data which will be key to driving strategy.
86% of travellers now view personalised offers as central to their decision making when making a purchase. The deployment of smart technologies such as artificial intelligence to analyse a guest’s profile, past buying behaviour and social media preferences to make customised offers presents hotels with the means to drive mass-personalisation and unlock new revenue generation potential.
Possessing the necessary data together with investing in the right tools and technology could reward hoteliers with increased revenue of as much as 6%.