The GCC is one of the fastest-growing regional hospitality markets on a global scale and a technology-reliant industry. Its impact on hotels and travel and tourism is multi-dimensional, ranging from voice and facial recognition, chatbots and beacon technology to virtual reality, blockchain and robot concierge.
However, the question remains, in a world of technological disruption – what is the hospitality industry doing to keep up with the rapidly evolving innovations surrounding it?
In our effort to address this question, cutting-edge technology and innovation will be adopted as the spotlight theme for Arabian Travel Market 2019.
Showcasing the most advanced and innovative forms of technology which are set to drive the MENA’s hospitality industry over the next decade, ATM 2019 will provide a platform to discuss how travel and tourism-orientated technology can boost competitiveness and sustainability in the region.
Technology and innovation will be integrated across all show verticals and planned activities – with a host of seminar sessions discussing the ongoing unprecedented digital disruption, and the emergence of innovative technologies that will fundamentally alter the way in which the hospitality industry operates in the region.
Much of the innovation we have seen across the travel industry to date is focused on easing the passenger journey, with flexibility, personalisation and authenticity all key to enhancing a guest’s overall trip.
The use of robots is becoming more commonplace with Colliers International predicting the global sale of guest relation robots to reach 66,000 units by 2020.
Deployed to improve guests’ overall experience in a hotel, these robots offer a range of uses from artificially intelligent chatbots designed to assist with the customer service process, through to robot concierge and butlers which have the ability to deliver luggage, handle check-in and check-outs and deliver meals 24/7 to guests efficiently.
Hoteliers have been cautious of technology taking away the human touch from the guest service and experience. However, by giving guests the power to choose every part of their hotel experience, hoteliers can learn the right balance between staff interaction and Artificial Intelligence-powered, automated customer service.
While a robot may not have a smile, it can recognise faces, remember names and most importantly remembers guest preferences, characteristics and behaviours.
With around 73 per cent of manual activities in the hospitality industry possessing the technical potential for automation and global hotel operators such as Marriott, Hilton and Accor already investing in automating elements of their human resources – it has been feared that AI may take over.
However, according to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, innovative technology will not be a purely negative disruptor in the hospitality industry. New jobs will be created; existing roles will be redefined; and workers will have the opportunity to further their career with additional training.
The challenge therefore, will be preparing for and managing the technological transition over the next decade.
Discussing the defining evolutions of hospitality technology, the Travel Tech Show will return to ATM 2019 with dedicated international exhibitors and an influential agenda of discussion and debate in the Travel Tech Theatre.
* The writer is exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market ”
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.