InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is planning to grow its presence in the Middle East by more than 35 per cent over the next two to three years, with 37 new hotels in its development pipeline.
“The new hotels will mostly be located in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which are our main target markets,” Pascal Gauvin, IHG’s managing director for India, the Middle East, and Africa, tells TTN.
“We have 15 hotels in the pipeline in the UAE and 12 hotels [in the pipeline] in Saudi Arabia which will open in the next three to five years,” Gauvin said.
Currently, IHG operates 91 hotels across five brands in the Middle East, including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites, as well as its new upscale brand voco which opened in Dubai early last month. “Our Hotel Indigo brand will also be making its debut in the Middle East, in Dubai, this October,” Gauvin said.
IHG was the first international hotel brand to enter the Middle East almost 60 years ago and since then, it has built a solid portfolio of offerings for a broad range of guests.
Discussing about the rise in mid-market hotel brands in the region, Gauvin said: “Traditionally, the Middle East has always been perceived to be a market for ‘luxury business’, however, that is changing now as we are seeing more demand for midscale hotels, like Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, and long-stay properties, such as our Staybridge Suites.”
Staybridge Suites, which currently has four hotels across the region, has seen a drastic increase in its portfolio with six new hotels scheduled to open in the Middle East in the next few years.
“Staybridge Suites is one of our top brands for long-stay guests, and is largely preferred by GCC travellers who tend to travel with family and look for larger accommodation units. Staybridge offers guests a sense of space and a ‘home away from home’ feeling, which is what our guests appreciate,” he said.
With Saudi Arabia in the midst of a major transformation that will see it develop into a leading tourism destination, many hotel operators, including IHG, are keen to be a part of the growth and benefit from the economic change.
“Saudi Arabia is undergoing a transformation and as the kingdom has always been a primary market for our group, we want to be a part of their makeover and ensure we bring the right brand to the right market, Gauvin noted.
Currently, the group has 33 properties in the kingdom, with 12 more in the pipeline.
PERSONALISATION IS ‘KEY’
Personalisation of services is no more a trend; it’s an obligation. And one that IHG is striving to perfect through the use of new technology-driven tools. “It is important to understand the purpose of each guest [Mice, leisure, bleisure] and accordingly cater to their needs,” Gauvin revealed.
“To ensure that, we have rolled out a new Guest Reservation System (GRS) and cloud-based technology platform called IHG Concerto, which allows us to package and serve content, pricing and products differently across brands in a more relevant way,” he said.
The initial phase of the GRS has been rolled out. In the next phase, the company will develop the technology to offer guests a "greater degree of customisation” by allowing them to book a room based on specific attributes.
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