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The fifth in a series of Interviews with Industry Leaders attending FHS Saudi Arabia

The fifth in a series of Interviews with Industry Leaders attending FHS Saudi Arabia

The fifth in a series of Interviews with Industry Leaders attending FHS Saudi Arabia taking place on the 29 April - 01 May 2024 at Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, Riyadh. Today we speak with Maya Ziade, Chief Development Officer, Premium, Midscale & Economy Division Middle East & Africa & Türkiye at Accor.

BTN: What are your core areas of focus when it comes to investment? I.e in the areas of innovation, sustainability, human capital and/or technology?

MZ: As a world leading hospitality Group, we are committed to upholding Accor’s values of hospitality, sustainability, and innovation which are the cornerstone for progress and a primary focus of our investment strategy. We adopt a customized approach to meet guest preferences, owner requirements, and the visionary initiatives of countries across the region.

At the heart of our investment strategy lies our investment and development in our teams, which we call Heartists. Our collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism to launch Tamayyaz by Accor, reinforces our dedication to fostering and developing talent, accelerating Saudization, while driving growth in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector. Furthermore, our Talent & Culture department, offers diverse and in-depth training programs, including high-potential initiatives and specialized programs like Women in Development, creating growth opportunities for our workforce.

As a major hospitality player, we also invest in our sustainability initiatives to stay, eat and explore better. STAY focuses on accelerating single-use plastics removal, scaling carbon reduction projects with an ultimate goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, as well as aligning our hotels with recognized standards through collaborations with third-party certifications such as Green Key and Green Globe. EAT are initiatives aimed at actively reducing food waste, sourcing local and seasonal fare, and inspiring positive eating habits; while enhancing food experiences for our guests. Our partnerships with tech-solutions such as Winnow or Orbisk support the hotels to measure and implement efficient food waste reduction strategy. EXPLORE reimagines the tourism model by anchoring hotels in their local neighbourhoods and being a force for good for local residents and the environment.
Hotels have also embraced IT solutions for various purposes, from automated check-in processes such as “Accor Key,” a digital key solution, to personalized guest experiences powered by data analytics, we leverage technology to enhance guest experiences through personalization and smart room controls. Finally, our loyalty program, ALL - Accor Live Limitless, aims to provide guests with a benefits and rewards across their hospitality journey.


BTN: What is your outlook for the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East in 2024 and beyond?

MZ: As a world leading hospitality Group, Accor currently counts 275 properties (75K keys) across all brands in the Middle East with 136 properties (+38K rooms) within the Premium, Midscale & Economy brands within the Premium, Midscale & Economy brands such as Pullman, Novotel, Mövenpick and ibis. The Middle East’s hospitality industry is driven by the transformation as well as growth in Saudi Arabia and the robust performance of hotels in the UAE, renowned as both an established market and a pivotal regional destination for business and leisure.

Saudi Arabia’s achievement of over 100 million tourists in 2023, seven years ahead of target, confirms its global tourism leadership. At Accor, our focus on Saudi Arabia aligns with Vision 2030, extending beyond mere business expansion. Through strategic partnerships and a diverse portfolio of brands, we are committed to supporting Saudi Arabia’s future while respecting its rich culture and traditions. With the first signing of Mercure Khamis Mushayt in Aseer, Saudi Arabia, we continue our strategic partnership with AMSA Hospitality to launch 18 properties across secondary destinations by 2030. Key openings in 2024 will also include, Novotel Riyadh Sahafa introducing the first Novotel design, Mövenpick Waad Al Shamal, Mercure Riyadh Al Anoud and Novotel Residences Thakher City Makkah, the first Novotel residences in Makkah.

The Holy Cities remain poised to enhance their roles as the Kingdom’s primary international gateways. Infrastructure projects like Rua Al Madinah, Masar, and Thakher City signify the government’s dedication and private sector’s interest in these cities.
Furthermore, we recognize a significant opportunity in combining branded residences with a hotel component. A trend boosted by our Augmented Hospitality approach, is attracting investors. With our Living concept spanning across Swissôtel, Pullman, Mövenpick, Adagio, and Novotel brands, we are poised to address this gap allowing guests to live, work and play seamlessly during their stay at our branded properties. Key establishments Swissôtel Living Jeddah, Adagio Jeddah City Centre, Adagio Jeddah malik road and our upcoming Novotel Living Residence Thakher City.

Finally, there is also a need for premium segment properties in leisure destinations, and the popular brand Mövenpick resonates with guests in these locations, there is also an opportunity for The Handwritten Collection, as partners seek a soft brand and TRIBE, in the midscale sector, offering design-led experiences that appeal to a new generation of travellers. Tribe is positioned to cater to evolving demographics in destinations like NEOM and Al Ula, presenting a fresh design concept that sets it apart from conventional hotel offerings.
Working with our partners we are not just operating hotels; we are contributing to the growth of local communities.

BTN: What does your panel/presentation/workshop at FHS focus on and what will delegates be able to take away from your session?

MZ: “Women in Tourism & Hospitality Leadership” is a topic close to my heart, which embodies the pursuit of empowering women within the industry to rise to leadership positions. It’s not just about advancing individual careers; it’s about fostering a culture of gender diversity and inclusivity in hospitality leadership—a cause that resonates deeply with my values and aspirations.

Empowering women in hospitality towards leadership roles is vital, but cultivating the right talent is equally crucial. This includes expanding the talent pool for diverse skills, joining women-led organizations for networking, providing public speaking coaching, and encouraging participation in industry events. Celebrating women’s success stories is essential for inspiring others in the industry. In addition to fostering talent, it’s crucial to acknowledge the innate qualities that women often bring to leadership roles in hospitality. Their resilience, persistency, and emotional intelligence not only drive personal success but also enhance the human connection at the heart of the industry, enriching guest experiences and strengthening organizational culture.

Accor understands the significance of identifying and nurturing potential female leaders early in their careers, providing them with the necessary support and development opportunities to excel in their roles and emerge as future leaders.
Through example programs such as the “Women in Development,” within the Premium Midscale & Economy division we extend a 6-month international coaching program, which illustrates effective approaches to nurturing high-potential women towards senior leadership positions.

BTN: What are you looking forward to most from your attendance at FHS Saudi Arabia?

MZ: I am eager to meet key stakeholders and investors. FHS has proven to offer a platform not only for initiating new projects, but also for generating deals that drive growth and development for the industry. I look forward to gaining valuable market insights from the panels and will be exploring opportunities for growth and assessing how we can contribute to supporting local communities and aligning with Saudi Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia.