Soft brands, boutiques and lifestyle hotels have reported some of the highest occupancy, revenue growth and profit margins of any segment of the hotel industry over the last few years, and there appears no end to the party in sight.

John Fareed, Principal of U.S. based John Fareed Hospitality Consulting, will share the latest trends on each segment, his expert opinion on the pros and cons, and how each is changing the traditional “hard branded' world of hospitality.
Stories have power. For centuries great leaders have used stories to stir emotion and move people into action. Stories delight, enchant, express, teach, challenge and inspire. They have the ability to unite or divide and through history have often help change the world.

We look at what makes a good story and how brands today need to harness this humble tool in order to connect with their audience in order to be relevant and successful.
The MENA region is a ‘mobile first' population, with mobile searches accounting for 61% of hotel search queries. In fact, the online booking scene has developed tremendously over the last two years, and since the economic downturn in 2008, hoteliers have increasingly realized the importance of online presence and e-distribution.

Coupled with the organic growth in internet usage, the percentage of online bookings increased in multiples and hoteliers became overly reliant on online travel agencies

who were willing to spend money on search engine optimization and pay per click through the high percentage commissions – resulting in lower profitability for hoteliers and an overuse of these channels, with hoteliers paying between 10% and 25% commission on each booking.

Fast forward to 2016, and we are now seeing a number of hotels improving their online presence through internet marketing, e-distribution and their own booking engine, which is resulting in greater profitability and brand value.

Hoteliers clearly understand the necessity to provide their guests with a direct online booking system that facilitates a lot more than just room reservations – enabling guests to book rooms as well as any extra services hoteliers could sell online to maximize revenues, such as spa packages, dining, and vouchers for example, through dynamic packaging.

Interestingly, by percentage, air travel searches in Arabic are far more broadly used on mobile devices, when compared to other languages, including English. However, given the tremendous potential, not nearly enough hoteliers in the region are tapping into the opportunity that's right here in our backyard.

According to the New York Times, Dubai is now the world's largest five-star hotel base, and in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for 2014, Dubai ranked number five in the Top 20 Global Destination Cities in 2014.

Therefore, online solutions need to be multi-lingual so that booking engines can be easily used by target audiences. Full-fledged Arabic booking engines, where the flow and text is from right to left, unlike the text conversion we see today, is required for hoteliers to capitalize on their opportunities in this region – where the proportion of Arabs online grew 30-fold over the past decade.

Hoteliers that take an investment approach are benefitting from the results and are increasingly focusing on direct bookings. It enables them to take control of digital information with their own marketing messages and customer interactions – preventing online travel agencies and competition controlling interaction with potential guests.
"Simplicity, simplicity & simplicity is the only key to success!" - Dr.S.K. Ramesh

Even though you can be striving to be self-sufficient you could do with some help. Help in accomplishing your purpose, vision, dream, calling in life or just having that empathic listening ear without the ego and judgement. For this you need to ensure that you are in balance and integrated in terms of your mind, body, heart and spirit. It is all about being ACE. In simple terms it is about Manifest, Enrich & Fulfill (MEF) your life by strengthening your Awareness, Consciousness & Energy (ACE). Dr. Segu Krishna Ramesh is the source of this information has taught Rohit Bassi that it all begins by amplifying your awareness.

In your journey you are bound to make mistakes, which really is your learning to remain focus and pay attention to be true to yourself. Some of these learning can indeed be expensive ones, yet they are your own unique personal learning.

Your transformation means, you overcome your limitations thus strive, with intense passion leading to unleashing your true potential.

"When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness." - Joseph Campbell
For years, hotels have focused on providing a quality experience for their guests that include clean rooms, comfortable beds, efficient check-ins and attractive amenities. However, research on how people make choices focuses on the emotional connections companies establish with their customers, rather than the rational factors we most often measure in our guest satisfaction surveys.

There is no industry where this is more true than the hospitality industry where hotels try to stand out from similarly priced offerings. How do you get your guests to go out of their way to stay at your property and pay premium rates to do so?

In this session, Dr. Rick Garlick, Global Practice Lead for J.D. Power discusses the principles behind what the best brands do differently to gain both their guests' respect, as well as their love. Included is a focus on creating a service culture that facilitates a strong emotional connection between your hotel and your guests.
Distribution, what does this mean today for the hotel industry. How can hotels drive whilst staying engaged with OTAs. How much are hotels in control over OTAs and how much control do OTAs take when it comes to distribution.

When trying to find the right price for the right customer at the right time through the right channel during changing distribution dynamics and continuous disruption around the globe this becomes more and more of a challenge and we must ask, are OTAs our friends, enemies or ‘frenemies'.
Challenged by the growth of third-party intermediaries and the further commoditization of the hospitality industry brought on by increasing transparency, hoteliers are searching for new methods and techniques to overcome rising distribution costs. Even a slight uptick in RevPAR can yield huge gains to the bottom line, but the effort has to start with cultural changes at the top. Innovative companies are leveraging their strengthens, restructuring org charts and on-property workflows to create a more comprehensive Revenue Strategy that is driving market-share gains

Conference Agenda

07:00 - 08:15 Registration, Coffee Break and Networking
08:15 - 08:30 Welcome Note
Robert A. Gilbert, President & CEO – HSMAI
08:30 – 09:00 Keynote Speaker
Terry Kane, Head of Auto, Finance, Telco & Travel
Facebook & Instagram
09:00 – 09:30 Building and managing a world class sales team
Alexander Suski, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Middle East & Africa
Millennium & Copthorne Middle East & Africa
09:30 - 10:00 Turning your customers into your greatest marketing asset
Andrew Burgess, APAC & Middle East Director
10:00 - 10:30 Hotels versus apartments versus Airbnb - convergence and synergies
Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations & Development for Middle East, Africa & India
Swiss-Belhotel International
10:30 - 11:00 Benefitting from meta-search – how to maximize your presence
Amer Al Halabi, General Manager EMEA
11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break and Networking
11:30 - 12:00 A look at IoT in Hospitality - Connecting your hotel's people, devices, & data
Alana Witte, VP Global Key Accounts, INTEREL
12:00 - 12:30 Cognitive Computing vs Artificial Intelligence - Is the hotel industry ready
Bilal Kabbani, Industry Head Travel
12:30 - 13:00 Sales Winners?
Daniel Weihrauch, Consulting Partner MEA
RAIN Group
13:00 - 13:45 Panel Discussion: A guest-centric strategy – the convergence of revenue management and marketing
13:45 - 14:15 Networking
14:15 - 16:15 Lunch and Awards

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