COMMENT: This isn’t really goodbye...
Change really is the only constant thing, let's embrace it
The hospitality industry is in a constant state of change — whether that change has been gradual or shockingly immediate. Whether we see new brands enter the market or people in the industry changing roles, the hospitality sector has to adapt and evolve to survive.
Some of the changes we have seen in recent times have included: the shift in owner-operator relationships (whether for better or for worse!), the introduction of new brands into the region (Too many? Just enough?), the launch of VAT in some GCC countries, and so much more. Our interviews this month are reflective of these changes as well. Whether we have IHG’s Kenneth Macpherson talking about the diversification of the brands the company has in the region, or Jumeirah’s José Silva discussing how he plans to take the home-grown hospitality brand into its next phase of development and evolution — change is afoot!
In addition to what we are seeing right now, there is also a lot to look forward to in the future. Technology is playing a big role in building the hotels of the future; we are seeing the advent of robot concierges, AI or VR in the hotel space, 100% movement to paperless solutions, and also going plastic-free, so a move towards eco-friendly or natural elements rather than harmful ones.
A shift in thinking is also being witnessed. Hotels are taking on board the presence of the ‘disruptors’, as they are called, and using that to effect change within their organisations. Travellers looking for Airbnbs and the like? Okay, let’s give them ‘social spaces’ in our hotels or create brands that offer these. People only going on OTAs rather than direct booking? Let’s show them why they should book a room with us instead. And so on... especially with the thought processes behind hotel F&B! But that’s another column...
Coming back to the area that we cover, the Hotelier Middle East editorial team has been seeing quite a few interesting comments from regional industry stalwarts while collecting data for the Hotelier Middle East Power 50 (which will be out in the September 2018 issue), and that is why I think another area of change this year will be the final ranking, which you all so eagerly await. There have been quite a few catalysts over the last 12-16 months that have, in my opinion, shaken things up — enough to make the list look a little different from the last few years.
But, I can’t say more than that because as you read this, I will no longer be with Hotelier Middle East and its publisher, ITP Media Group. It has been more than seven years since I joined the company and just over five since I started writing about the hospitality and F&B industry. It has been one of the most brilliant journeys I have ever undertaken. Writing about this industry has been a great privilege and the chance to tell your stories is something I have thoroughly enjoyed. You welcomed me with open minds and shared your knowledge — both on- and off-record — which helped me learn so much. I really appreciate it.
I am connected with so many of you on various platforms, so this isn’t really goodbye. Our paths will cross again — I am sure of it.
As for Hotelier Middle East, I shall leave you in the hands of my features writer and senior online editor, until a new editor is appointed. I hope that s/he continues to uphold the integrity and quality of this magazine that I have for so long protected, and equally, I hope that all of you welcome him/her in the same way that you welcomed me.
I wish you all the best for the future, I cannot wait to see what you do next.