GIOHIS 2021 crucial for GCC hospitality sector engagement on key challenges ahead – Middle East & Gulf News

The next 12 months will be a test period for the GCC hospitality industry, with owners and operators facing challenges on multiple fronts, according to Simon Allison, organizer of this year’s Gulf and Indian Ocean Hotel Investors’ Summit (www, which will take place November 14-16 at the Al Hamra Convention Center and the Waldorf Astoria, in Ras Al Khaimah. While the industry will inevitably focus on reclaiming its position after the challenges of Covid-19, its leaders are urged to prepare for issues such as increased competition, labor shortages, new regulatory requirements, rising energy prices and the need for investment. in technology.

Allison, who is also CEO of HOFTEL, a network of hotel property investors, believes the GCC’s major tourism markets are well positioned for a rapid resurgence, but warns that owners and operators who don’t anticipate these potential hurdles will be hard hit. affected. GIOHIS 2021, which is hosted by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, will bring together leaders from across the hospitality industry to share knowledge and ideas on the challenges and opportunities they face in making their way to a sustainable growth.

“Covid-19 represents the greatest challenge our industry has ever faced,” commented Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. “Ras Al Khaimah is a case study on effective recovery management with a number of initiatives including being the world’s first safe city accredited by Bureau Veritas and WTTC, launching a recovery plan funding to support our hotels and attractions, as well as the free offer to travelers. return PCR tests.

Looking in detail at some of the issues that will be discussed at GIOHIS 2021, Simon Allison urged hotel owners to focus initially on not letting costs climb to 2019 levels, thus positioning themselves better for the various headwinds they face. He says: “To contain costs, the industry will need more efficient working practices and potentially additional investments in automation. This will mean taking a close look at the sales department and considering whether any new online marketing functions have replaced or simply supplemented – and added at cost – existing functions. The cost of customer acquisition remains a big issue for owners, especially with the growing dominance of online travel agents, which is generating new ways to reach customers directly, whether through social media or programs. of loyalty of major brands.

“For many owners, this will also mean reviewing their relationships with partner brands. Over the years, as owners set base charges and incentive charges through firmer negotiation, major global brands have added multiple refills, often lost in a “system” or “schedule” charge, but charging. effectively a wide range of management functions to owners who might have thought they were covered by management fees. This can amount to millions of dirhams per hotel, per year. Some owners are setting up their own management companies or hiring white label operators to reduce these costs and, to their credit, many global majors are increasingly willing to convert their management contracts into franchises.

As the whole world has learned the lessons of the pandemic and will embark on a recovery program, Allison recommends a cautious approach for the hospitality industry.

“The hospitality industry is generally tinged with optimism, and although it has faced multiple ‘black swan’ threats, ranging from war and terrorism to economic recessions or natural disasters, it tends to to look forward and not back. However, with transactions, and even real estate values, rising again around the world, it’s almost as if COVID never happened. It may be dangerous. Are hotels prepared for a new pandemic in terms of insurance, lender relationships, security protocols, physical design, and employee plans? Or did they just assume it would never happen again? At this point, I fear the latter.

According to Allison, the UAE has set a good example for the industry in restoring the confidence of travelers with its rapid vaccination program and mandatory masks, combined with widely open borders. He points out that this strategy has been incredibly successful and that while some markets remain in recovery mode, others, like Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE’s high-end beaches, are in fact trading ahead of the levels of recovery. ‘before the pandemic.

Simon adds: “The challenge will be to maintain the momentum once the rest of the world opens up to tourists, as Europe and Southeast Asia are starting to do. The UAE’s core strengths – a location halfway between Europe and Asia, major airlines, far-sighted infrastructure projects, year-round sunshine and plenty of ways to have fun – will not disappear.

“Of course, the Expo and the World Cup in 2022 will be additional attractions and help generate spinoffs, but it is in the long term that the UAE can show its strength. Discussions on the weekend’s development will align it with its main tourist markets; the potential arrival of the game would be a big boost to global arrivals. Additionally, the proposed high-speed rail link, although initially intended for freight, could potentially make multi-center vacations or day trips to the UAE a much easier proposition, allowing visitors to experience Jebel Jais attractions in Saadiyat in one day.

The annual GIOHIS Summit – now in its fifth year – provides support and guidance to delegates via a transparent and compact industry forum, with a debate on all aspects of the industry, as well as a discussion of innovations and best practices.

The main areas of intervention of GIOHIS 2021 include:

Keynote speakers are: Alison Grinnell, CEO, RAK Hospitality Holding LLC; Abdullah Abdooli, CEO, Marjan Properties; Raki Phillips, CEO of the RAK Tourism Development Authority; Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotel Group; Rami Moukarzel, Hotel Development and Strategy Manager, Louvre Hotels Group; Olivier Harnisch, member of the board of directors, Gulf Hotels Group; Naim Maddad, CEO, Gates Hospitality and Dimitris Manikis, President EMEA, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

Tickets are available at

Peter M. Doran