Middle East restaurant spending rises 7pc

The Steakhouse at the Meridien Dubai.

Middle East consumers are continuing to dine out, with a seven per cent rise in restaurant spending, according to loyalty marketing specialists, HMC (Hospitality Marketing Concepts).

HMC, one of the world's leading providers of travel industry membership and database management programmes, has researched current trends in the regional market to assess the impact of recent events - and its results contradict subjective views that consumers have been cautious in discretionary spending so far this year.

In fact, according to HMC vice-president and area director Robert Fadel, consumers who are members of restaurant or hotel loyalty programmes in the Middle East are dining just as often - and spending significantly more per visit - than a year earlier.

He said that HMC used its Loyalty Marketing Index for the Middle East - based on 35 four- and five-star hotels located throughout the region - to track trends in loyalty member spending for the first two months of 2003.

"By our reckoning, achieved through information collected by our ClubCentral tracking application, members averaged the same number of visits to the dining facilities of member hotels during January and February as they did for the same period in 2002," he said.

In addition, Fadel added, members increased their spending per cover by more than seven per cent from a year earlier, and this held true across the survey in markets including Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE.

"In part this reflects the positive effects of implementing loyalty programmes for restaurants since the membership base we build for a hotel provides consistent revenue, even if there is an overall decrease in business travel spending.

"Our programmes help hotels to help themselves, providing a cushion against economic downturn or even extraordinary events such as those witnessed of late," he said.

HMC operates its own in-house loyalty card scheme, ClubHotel, with more than 500,000 members eligible for a wide range of benefits across 800 hotels and resorts worldwide. In addition, the company administers affinity programmes for a number of international brands including Le Meridien, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood and Kempinski.