Event Review: The Hotel Show

Another strong edition for annual event at Dubai World Trade Centre

The Hotel Show event organiser Christine Davidson shows His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum around the exhibition.
The Hotel Show event organiser Christine Davidson shows His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum around the exhibition.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, The Hotel Show proved to be a strong marketplace for suppliers to showcase their latest products, with the Vision Conference providing a stimulating forum for debate and discussion

As the region’s largest hospitality-focused trade event, The Hotel Show is always a key date on the Middle East industry calendar, and the most recent edition came at a time when the hotel sector is in the middle of its most buoyant period in recent years.

Held once again at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the three-day event took place on September 28-30, and this year had extra significance, with 2014 marking its 15th anniversary.

Hotelier Middle East and sister title Caterer Middle East were the official exclusive publications for the event, which attracted around 600 international and regional exhibitors, up from 560 last year.

While the final numbers are still to be audited, organisers were confident at the closing of the show that there was a 10% rise in attendees over the 2013 event, during which 16,700 industry professionals visited from 98 countries.

Coincidentally, one of the most iconic hotels in the Middle East, if not the world — the Burj Al Arab — is also celebrating its 15th birthday this year, and this landmark anniversary provided an opportunity to reflect on the phenomenal growth of the hospitality industry over the course of those years.

Opening the Vision Conference, Dubai Corporation for Tourism Commerce Marketing CEO Issam AbdulRahim Kazim spoke about how hotels formed the “backbone” of the tourism industry, which is in turn a key pillar of the emirate’s growing economy.

“In the space of a mere 15 years, the number of hotels and hotel apartment establishments in Dubai has increased from 378 to 637, with more than three and a half times the number of rooms, rising from 25,000 to 89,000.

“To put this into context, that’s an average of more than 17 hotel openings every 12 months, which, I’m sure you will agree, is a phenomenal rate of growth,” he said.

Kazim also detailed why quality is just as important as quantity, and diversification was one of the buzzwords of the three-day conference at the show.

“Moving forward, we need to not only build more hotels and increase the supply of rooms in order to meet growing demand, but also continue to diversify our hotel sector,” he said.

“Great steps have already been taken to broaden the offering so that we can offer quality products to match the full spectrum of visitors’ budgets, requirements and tastes.

“Dubai’s hotels should cater for all types of tourists, whether they are here on business, here with family and kids in tow, or simply in need of a relaxing getaway.”

He added that, with incentives from the government, three- and four-star hotels in Dubai were “on the rise”.

No event focusing on hospitality in the Middle East, and particularly Dubai, can pass without a mention of the government’s ambitious target of 20 million tourists a year by 2020, and this was certainly on the minds of exhibitors.

“Why are we here? If you look at the region and starting with Dubai in particular looking at Expo 2020 there’s a huge surge in hospitality growth,” said Honeywell regional GM MEA Dilip Sinha.

“Almost 160 hotel rooms are going to be added by 2020 and if you look at the region, the hospitality industry is one of the key verticals experiencing growth — in the next five years this industry will be growing faster than most other industries,” he added.

HoistLocatel managing director Karim Zaki gave a broader outlook: “The Hotel Show has attracted people from Africa and Saudi Arabia, so it’s very important for us. We are already active in Egypt and KSA but we see Egypt as a potential big market next year.

“With Qatar, you’re sitting in anticipation about when it’s going to happen. It’s not really happened yet; maybe it’s on hold with all the issues around the World Cup? Eventually it’s going to come because 2022 is going to come,” he added.

Olivier Brommet, director of international sales at Hypnos, explained why the event was so important to exhibiting suppliers like his company.

“We used the Hotel Show this year to reinforce the message that Hypnos now manufactures beds in Dubai.

“In less than two years, Hypnos has developed from a UK-based company to a truly global company with 13 factories throughout the world, making us a real alternative to the more established suppliers which dominate the beds and bedding market,” he said.

“We have picked up some great new leads so we’re very happy with the result and will definitely be back next year.”

Furthermore, this year’s event saw a number of suppliers showing off technical innovations across a range of categories, from software to in-room products.

IT infrastructure solutions company F1 Infotech has launched the video collaboration wall from Prysm, a California-based manufacturer. The wall, which was showcased at the Hotel Show is similar to a giant iPad screen and is available in a number of sizes and shapes, including u-shaped and curved.

Cyril Mattar, Prysm director of sales, said: “It’s just like your iPad, but we’re the only company that can offer it on large screens. You can have it in a lobby, or in a board room or meeting room. In a lobby it won’t be interactive, it will be a big screen, any size and shape you want.”

Meanwhile, Prologic First showcased its range of apps and cloud-based software including the @your wish housekeeping app and Mobile Touché for F&B outlets.

Explaining the functionality of @your wish, Amit Sharda, vice president hospitality at Prologic First said: “It’s for task management — any guest queries in the hotel are sent directly to the person on that floor.

“So if a guest asks for a pillow, the request goes to the housekeeper on that floor and when they complete the task they can close that call.”

At the new co-located Leisure Show, Technogym showcased its latest innovation, the wellness cloud system, which offers a display on cycling and running machines allowing guests to log in through their smart phones to the ‘My Wellness’ app and access their own personal fitness plans on any Technogym equipment globally.

Technogym sales manager, home & hospitality Simone Camposeranio explained: “Everyone wants to be connected, even while doing a workout so our latest technology is a wellness cloud basic technology and in this way guests can be always connected during their workout.”

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