Expert’s Voice: Hey hoteliers, be T.R.U.E. to yourself to succeed in the Middle East

by | 23 Oct 2019 | Events, People

The esteemed panelists at TOPHOTELWORLDROUR Dubai (from L to R) Bachir Rajji, Mike Sievwright, Elias Maalouf and Nathan Hones.

In the face of intense competition, panelists at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Dubai explore the T.R.U.E. solution of technology, revenue, uniqueness and Expo 2020.

Competition: a word the hospitality market is no stranger to. One of the biggest challenges facing hoteliers is answering the big question of how to stay ahead of the competition and shine in the Middle East’s dense hotel industry.

The panel discussion at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Dubai, held in the swanky Dusit Thani Hotel on September 16, brought together some of the finest minds in hospitality to discuss what tech and trends can boost Dubai hotels.


As Expo 2020 Dubai sparks the emergence of new hospitality players in Dubai and the rest of the Middle East alike, an ever-increasing pipeline of new hotel constructions is, in turn, putting sustained pressure on RevPARs and ADRs.

In a difficult market with constant plans for expansion, competition is a challenge for every hotel company. It does not matter if it is a big or small brand.

Elias Maalouf, Regional Director of Technical Services at Dusit International, pointed out how the best strategy is focusing on offering a unique service. “We aim to distinguish ourselves from other hotels with a keen focus on guest experience,” he stated.

Maalouf highlighted the importance of keeping abreast of the latest tech trends, but with a caveat. “We need to focus on implementing the right amount of tech and not using complicated systems. For example, guest room service systems are for guest comfort and should not be confusing.”

Furthermore, technology and sustainability are a match made in heaven. Bachir Rajji, Area Director of Engineering and Design at Radisson Hotels Group, told the event: “The industry should focus on energy-saving technologies that will benefit the hotel in the long run and make it efficient.”


Lest we forget, it’s all about the money, honey.

Addressing the all-important issue of how to boost hotel revenue, Mike Sievwright, Vice President for Design and Construction at MGM Resorts International, listed several different approaches to operating hotels. “One way of generating more revenue is the European way: less staff who are better trained, more attentive and supported by technology,” he said.

However, Sievwright added that the bottom line isn’t always generating more revenue, but consolidating it with an eye on energy consumption. Being green-friendly also stands your hotel in good stead in the industry, which in turn draws more environmentally-conscious guests and boosts profits.

Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of nerds! Sievwright highlighted the importance of motivating hotel engineering teams. “If you systematically challenge and engage your team, your staff will themselves make it a habit to come up with initiatives and tech solutions to problems facing your hotel,” he affirmed.


The moderator of the panel discussion, Nathan Hones, Chief Operating Officer and Partner at Carter Associates, then shifted the focus to Dubai and the upcoming Expo 2020.

Panelists shared expectations and predictions surrounding the event and its impact on the regional hospitality market.

Here, Rajji shared with the audience an interesting analogy, comparing Dubai Expo 2020 to a bus station. Yes, a bus station!

“You can pick a lot of passengers and continue your journey successfully or you can pick no one and fail on your onward journey. In the same vein, hospitality experts do not see the Expo 2020 experience as something negative or positive, but just as a way of proving their ability to perform as best as they can,” he stated.

To attend, address or sponsor TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR events around the world, get in touch with TOPHOTELPROJECTS’ Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.

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The TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR is a series of one-day conferences around the world for hospitality leaders. We believe that knowing the right people is the key to becoming a successful player in the global hospitality industry.


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