- Touchless technology dominated discussion at the inaugural HITEC Conference, with industry leaders citing a disconnect in visitor experience as a major growth opportunity
Dubai, UAE: This year’s edition of The Hotel Show, the Gulf region's premium hospitality exhibition, officially opened its doors today to thousands of visitors from across the region who will spend the next three days formalising business with international exhibitors and attending high-level networking events, conferences, and live demonstrations at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Running until May 25 at Dubai World Trade Centre, The Hotel Show – which includes the co-located Leisure Show – features an extensive array of innovative products, services, and technologies, all tailored to meet the evolving demands of the modern hotel industry, including key sectors such as hospitality technology, operating supplies & equipment and food services.
The Hotel Show is also hosting a series of engaging features and interactive events, including live product demonstrations, panel discussions, and keynote presentations from more than 100 industry experts across four conference streams.
Kicking off the three days was the Hospitality Leadership and F&B Forum, of which the opening session featured a keynote talk from Hoor Mohammad Noor Al Khaja, Associate Vice President, International Operations at Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism. Al Khaja highlighted how the emirate today hosts one of the world’s richest hospitality industries, yet is only set to grow further during the next decade under the Dubai Economic Agenda 2033, which aims to consolidate the city as one of the world’s top three destinations.
“Dubai is a city that has not only established itself as a global destination, but has also developed one of the world’s most successful hotel industries, and the latest data speaks volumes about this achievement,” said Al Khaja. “In the first quarter of this year, Dubai welcomed 4.67 million international visitors compared to 3.97 million during the same period last year – a 17 per cent year-on-year growth that saw visitation at 98 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.” Al Khaja added that hotel occupancy was 83 per cent in Q1 2023, ensuring it remains one of the highest in the world, and by the end of March 2023, the city’s hotel sector had a total of 148,977 rooms across 814 hotel properties. These exceptional first-quarter results saw Dubai crowned again as the No1 global destination on Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023. “This makes it only the second time in history that a city has won this award for two years in a row,” Al Khaja added.
This year’s Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) – the largest global conference dedicated to the integration of technology in the hospitality sector – also got underway with a keynote speech from Yousuf Lootah, Acting CEO Corporate Strategy and Performance Sector at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. Lootah revealed the Dubai Can initiative aimed at reducing single-use plastic bottles has, from just 50 public fountains, successfully reduced the need for seven million 500ml bottles in its first year alone.
“And that is not including the hotel and corporations that have participated,” he added. “We have the resources, technology, and expertise to make a difference, so by working together and embracing innovation, I am confident the hospitality industry can lead the way to a sustainable future.” Touchless technology dominated the discussion during the first panel session of the HITEC Conference, with Sanjay Sharma, Head of Information Technology at Jumeirah Group, wondering aloud why guests can arrive at a hotel by Uber and do not need to check-out or make a payment before disembarking, yet as soon they enter the property they must stop and check-in.
“We need to talk more about human behaviour because it is changing,” he said. “If you drive a Tesla, you no longer need a key; your mobile device is your key. So, we need to provide the right experience; that is the basic principle. Imagine going to a hotel restaurant where you have stayed for three nights and they ask you for your room number and last name when you go to pay the bill. Likewise, I’m on a sunbed by the beach and someone asks me to write on a piece of paper with wet hands. We need to adapt, evolve, and join hands with our business operations to find the right partners and experiment.” Asked why the hospitality industry has perhaps been slow to embrace digitalisation, Sharma responded somewhat philosophically: “Continual improvement of candlelight will never resemble an electric bulb – there are challenges and we understand them. But where there is a will there is a way.” Elaine O’Connell, Vice President of Design and Hospitality at dmg events meanwhile said that after much preparation, she was delighted with the first day of the annual event. “We are excited to finally be open,” she said. “With The Hotel Show and Leisure Show co-located, as well as INDEX and Workspace, what attendees are finding this week at Dubai World Trade Centre is a four-in-one event that covers the entire hospitality, tech, interior design, and fit-out ecosystem. We have a busy three days ahead filled with insightful sessions from industry-recognised guest speakers and we look forward to seeing plenty of business being formalised.” Meanwhile, Leisure Show, an all-encompassing exhibition for the Middle East’s dynamic fitness, spa, and gym sectors, connects owners and operators together with equipment distributors and suppliers. The show has areas dedicated to sport and fitness, spa and wellness, and recreation and adventure.
The Hotel Show, co-located alongside Leisure Show, INDEX, and Workspace, runs at Dubai World Trade Centre until May 25.
About The Hotel Show
The Hotel Show is the region’s largest trade event for the hospitality sector, establishing itself as the longest-standing event of its type in the Middle East and Africa. The Hotel Show is a platform that provides international suppliers the opportunity to showcase their innovations and products to the most comprehensive community of serious buyers in various categories, including hotel technology, operating equipment and supplies, food services, and HORECA (hotel/restaurant/catering). Its 23rd edition takes place from May 23-25, 2023, at Dubai World Trade Centre and will include a series of open and lively discussions among many of the industry’s leading figures under the theme ‘Transforming Hospitality Spaces with Product, Design, and Technology’.
For more information, please visit our website.
About HITEC Dubai
Produced by Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP), HITEC is the world’s largest conference exploring the transformation of hospitality spaces through technology. Taking place at The Hotel Show in May, the conference will take a deep dive into the impact of revolutionary robotics, automation, and AI solutions driving the industry’s future.
A lineup of global and regional technology and hospitality leaders will also examine new emerging technology trends deemed essential to satisfying heightened guest demands, meeting sustainability goals, and building sector competitiveness.
For more information, please visit our website.