ATM 2019: Digitalisation will shape travel and hospitality sectors

Travellers in the UAE are tech-savvy and comfortable with the digitisation of services

  
Way to enter beautiful Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.

Way to enter beautiful Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.

Getty Images/ Saibal

A growing wave of digitalisation is helping to drive growth across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors in the UAE, experts said ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2019) exhibition.

Opening its doors on Sunday, April 28, 2019, the 26th edition of the show will welcome over 2,500 exhibiting companies and an expected 40,000 industry professionals, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions, and more than 100 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut.

Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), noted that there are lots of changes that are happening in the industry right now.

"Everything is on the digital front now, and we have seen this transition over the past few years," he said. "There has been a tremendous advancement, not just in the way that we use technology to communicate with end users, but also how people are using it to travel. We are doing a lot more targeted messaging where people are interacting with content that is based on what is relevant to them. Based on this, we are trying to provide them with more options, in real time, on what it is that they can do in Dubai when they visit."

Kazim also highlighted the importance of leveraging technology to help the industry and sell Dubai as a destination across multiple channels. "Our focus remains on working with our partners and getting more people to visit Dubai, whether it be for business or for leisure. We have to ensure that they are aware of the breath of options that they have when they come to Dubai so that they can extend the length of their stay," he said.

Chris Newman, chief operating officer at Emaar Hospitality Group, also described the impact of digitisation on the industry as a transformation.

"Digital technology is something that is really shaping the way that we live, work, and play in the world today," he said. "From the point of planning your stay, to the stay itself, and then, even more importantly, after your stay, the whole guest journey and experience is becoming more digitalised. Having said that, while digital technology will shape the hospitality sector, it is power of genuine personalised service that will drive the success of the hospitality business."

Technology, he said, is going to be responsible for helping to reduce the focus on the transactional part of the business, and allowing players to focus more on the engagement and experience that guests enjoy during their stay.

Similarly, Kathryn Wallington, country manager for the UAE at Travelport, also agreed that digitisation has supported professionals in the travel sector by minimising more administrative tasks and creating a smoother work stream.

"The travel and hospitality industry is evolving rapidly in today's era of digitisation, driven by emerging technologies that are opening up new possibilities and escalating demand for real-time services and solutions from travelers," she said.

Travellers in the UAE, she revealed, are tech-savvy and comfortable with the digitisation of services. "However, today we are seeing a growing demand from them for agent advice, digital solutions and hybrid support delivered throughout their travel experience. Travellers in the UAE today don't see digital and physical solutions as separate elements. Their expectation is that solutions should be delivered seamlessly across multiple channels 24/7."

 

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