Hotel industry leaders from across the Middle East gathered in Dubai earlier for talks on how to shape the industry in 2020 and beyond.
Key among them was Richard Haddad, chief executive of Jannah Hotels & Resorts, who took the stage to address the targeting of the customer journey through data – an increasingly important topic in the hospitality space.
Discussing how his company meets the challenges of the growing field, he explained: “Over the past year, we have adopted various platforms and technology to help us - we have purchased the best property management systems; we have invested in the latest booking engines with our partners; and we have installed new customer relationship management technology.
“At the same time, we have launched new multilingual websites, adding more languages.
“At Jannah, we now have a point of sales system that interacts properly with the back of house software, they are able to integrate data, while we have launched a new loyalty programme.”
He added: “As a result of all this work, direct consumer bookings on our website have grown by over 28 per cent, while at the property we achieved a 120 per cent increase in direct business.
“Obviously this is what we aim for as much as possible, to get direct engagement and conversion.”
Under the umbrella of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the Revenue Optimisation Conference (ROC) took place at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City.
HSMAI provides practical tools, insights and cutting-edge expertise to enable knowledge sharing and enhance professional development, as well as increase sales, inspire marketing, transform businesses digitally and take the lead in revenue strategy.
HSMAI is the global leading association for the hotel industry and the Middle East membership is growing rapidly.
Up for discussion at ROC 2019 were key topics such as how to better deliver the most compelling and comprehensive commercial strategy for the hospitality industry from all angles, including revenue, distribution, sales and marketing.
Explaining how data contributes to the success of a hotel, Haddad continued: “The challenge is to centralise all the services and to make sure we have one access to all the information – that has not been easy.
“This is an ongoing job, we try to get one single login, but we cannot, we have multiple channels.
“We did centralise into one customer relationship management system, but when it comes to communication, we obviously have WhatsApp communication, live chat communication, telephone, email and so on so forth.
“The multiple channels add complexity, but still we believe we are working with the technology to try to consolidate more.”
With nearly three decades of experience in the hospitality business, Haddad joined Jannah Hotels & Resorts last year.
Discussing the company, he added: “What excites me at Jannah Hotels & Resorts is the experience we see with hotel guests every day, we never have a boring day in the office.
“Every day there are new challenges, new experiences and new opportunities to learn.
“What I would like to see is more engagement in sustainability from the industry, adoption from the various governing bodies and chains.”
With reference to technology, Haddad continued: “With us being a small player, the question becomes how can we manage to be associated with technology in an affordable way?
“We ask how the hotel can be able to see the return on investment, and that the acquisition of guests has not become a multiplicator and is not more expensive, especially for small groups.
“For us the biggest challenges are what are we able to afford, and to what complexity the partners have the travel technology able to adapt to our needs.
Concluding, Haddad said: “Technology is continuously evolving in the industry.
“The consumer has moved on mass to digital, he has mobile as well, so we have to response to that; the consumer wants to have access and control over his booking and flexibility.
“That is something we need to address, to make sure we have the same flexibility across various channels.”
Find out more about the company on the official website.