Highlighting the diversification of offerings to appeal to different markets and the growth of MiCE travel in the MENA region, Paula De Keijzer, Senior Director—Market Management, Middle East, Africa, Greece & Turkey, Expedia Group, explains the emergence and development of varied markets.
Given the extensive experience in hospitality, how do you find the MENA market?
According to recent reports in the industry, I think what we’re seeing in the Middle East and Africa (MENA) in general is a rise in occupancy rates, which in turn, has helped boost revenue and profit for hotels in the region. Of late, our company data from the past quarter suggests that international demand into the UAE is on the rise. Travellers from Asia topped the list of those coming to visit the country. Overall, I think that the significant diversity of hotel markets across MENA means that there will always be a mix of top- and bottom-line performance.
How is Dubai different from other markets?
What sets Dubai apart from other markets is that it really caters to the international market. For example, as seen from our data report from the last quarter, the number of Chinese travellers has significantly increased as a result of the efforts to accommodate Chinese travellers, which include facilities like visa on arrival.
What are the hospitality trends in the Middle East?
There is a push for personalisation and diversification of offerings to appeal to different markets. Recently, we have seen the industry being open to a wide audience that does not focus solely on luxury travel in this region. We’re also seeing competition on the global scene for the business of new emerging markets as four and three-star hotels are now competing with the luxury hotel segment. Countries including Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and Kuwait are all gaining momentum as they develop their MiCE sectors. Hoteliers entering the market need to be aware of these trends and think about catering to the demand from the growing middle classes and shorter-stay passengers into the region to attract new travellers from Africa and Asia.
How has technology supported the efficiency levels in hospitality?
Technology plays an increasingly important role in helping drive demand and revenue to hoteliers. At Expedia Group, we have listened to our hotel partners’ needs and have developed a toolkit of strategic technology, marketing and data offerings, known as Expedia Powered Technology, to help them grow their business.