Staff retention, changing consumer demands main concern of hospitality sector

Mona Faraj

DUBAI — Finding and retaining key talent, meeting changing consumer demands and keeping on top of market trends are some of the main challenges facing the Middle East’s hotel and hospitality industry.

Mona Faraj, Managing Director at Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Middle East, explained that while companies face many hurdles, the sector is continuing to expand and mature at such a pace that these obstacles can be overcome.

“The hospitality industry is one of the Middle East’s most important and fastest-growing sectors, but it does face a number of core challenges,” said Ms Faraj.

“Talent acquisition, retention and development is an area that constantly requires attention and care in order to be managed properly. The issues companies face around the region are magnified in Saudi Arabia.

“As KSA opens up its tourism and hospitality industry to greater investment and plans for rapid growth in the years ahead, the need to find, train and retain high quality members of staff, particularly Saudi nationals in line with the government’s Saudization plans, is becoming more and more important.”

To support the growth of the Saudi market, HSMAI is planning to set up a KSA chapter in 2020, explained Ms Faraj, adding that HSMAI is perfectly placed to play a key role in an exciting new chapter for the industry.

HSMAI provides practical tools, insights and cutting-edge expertise to enable knowledge sharing and enhance professional development, as well as increase sales, inspire marketing, transform businesses digitally and take the lead in revenue strategy. HSMAI is the global leading association for the hotel industry and the Middle East membership is growing rapidly.

Under the umbrella of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) it has been announced that the Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) 2019 will take place on 4th December at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City.

Up for discussion at ROC 2019 will be key topics such as how to better deliver the most compelling and comprehensive commercial strategy for the hospitality industry from all angles, including revenue, distribution, sales and marketing.

Evolving customer habits, trends and demands are areas that demand constant attention by leaders in the hospitality sector, said Ms Faraj.

“The speed of change, and the complexity of the changes that are being introduced, means you can not afford to let your attention slip. Trends go and go at a such a rapid rate that the industry must be prepared to not only react to, but to also predict these changes in order to attract and maintain business,” said Ms Faraj.

“These days, guests are demanding more in the way of personalization and customization from their hotel stays. This is even outweighing the preference for luxury in some cases, with guests looking for a unique experience more and more.

“Personalization and customization of properties is the best way to overcome the common problem of hotels being too ‘similar’ or offering the same services, products etc.”

Ms Faraj believes that the proper and dedicated use of intelligent and up to date market information combined with efficient data analysis can be a useful tool in helping the hospitality sector keep track of changes and quickly adapt to them.

“There is so much information available, with data tracking points and guest information on file. By making the best use of this, hotels and hospitality companies can achieve positive growth and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.”

These issues and more will be addressed at the upcoming ROC 2019 event, which is being organized in partnership with key organizations including platinum partners; SEERA, Avero, Cvent and Livingroom, and gold partners; Cendyn, Illusion, RateGain and WEGO.

ROC 2019 will see major global players such as IHG, Accor, Rotana, Jumeirah, Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton represented along with the best independent hotel operators in Dubai and across the Middle East. — SG