DUBAI: Pakistan was highlighted as a potential market for further expansion by an official at the Emaar Group as The Hotel Show Dubai, a key event in the hospitality industry, concluded on Thursday, highlighting significant trends in sustainability and technological innovation.

This year’s edition was held at the Dubai World Trade Centre and emphasised the evolving practices that are redefining the future of hotels.

Mark Kirby, Head of Hospitality for Emaar Properties – one of the largest developers in the UAE — also revealed expansion plans, indicating that Emaar is considering expanding in new markets, including Pakistan.

“Pakistan is being looked at as a market for future expansions,” he mentioned, highlighting the potential for spreading sustainable practices across regions.

Emaar Properties is also the group responsible for the building of Dubai Mall, which recently got the tag of the “most visited place on earth” in 2023. The developer will now be carrying out an expansion of the mall.

Emaar Properties already has a footprint in Pakistan, having built apartment buildings in Karachi.

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Kirby, meanwhile, also underscored the growing importance of sustainability as he outlined Emaar’s commitment to green practices. “Sustainability is becoming incredibly important,” he stated.

“There is a mandate to make ourselves green by making sure to reduce carbon emissions and energy resources.” “Hotels of the future are being fit with water bottling plants and LED lighting.”

The Hotel Show – over the course of two decades – has brought together global products, solutions, and technology under one roof, acting as a gateway to the Middle East hospitality market. The three-day event highlighted the latest advancements in products, solutions, and technology, providing a comprehensive experience for attendees.

Bryanne Trait, Global Senior Director of Sustainability for Jumeirah Group, then highlighted the complexities surrounding sustainability certifications.

“Booking.com has a feature that issues badges in relation to sustainability on whether you are third-party certified for users,” Trait said.

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However, she pointed out a significant challenge. “With over 200+ certifications being offered, there should be a push for consolidation in certifications.”

Trait expressed concern that the plethora of certifications could lead to confusion and exploitation. “For a lot of people, it becomes a money-making scheme from certifications,” she added, calling for more standardised and meaningful certifications.

The event also showcased the integration of advanced technology in the hospitality sector.

Sharelle Mammen, a professional in the tourism industry, shared insights into Dubai’s technological advancements. “Dubai focuses on hospitality which is difficult to find everywhere else.”

She highlighted the use of biometrics. “We no longer have keycards; it’s just using your biometrics or scanning your eyes.”

This technology enhances security and convenience for guests. Mammen also mentioned the use of robotics. “We also have robots that welcome the guests at the front line to the hotel.”

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Customisation and personalisation were also key themes at the show.

Mammen explained how Dubai’s hotels tailor services based on various factors such as ethnicity and economy.

“People do receive different packages based on ethnicities,” she noted. “Your packages are based on currencies; it would be based on economies.”

This approach aims to provide feasible options for different budgets. “There are tour packages that are more popular across South Asian communities. For example, sightseeing packages such as tickets for the Burj Khalifa would sell better than skydiving tickets,” Mammen elaborated.

A representative from Vingcard discussed the company’s move towards sustainable practices and AI technology.

“Vingcard is moving towards more sustainable practices as well as developing technology to be more reliant on AI,” the representative stated. This aligns with the industry’s trend of integrating AI to enhance efficiency and improve guest experiences.

Kirby, in his address, emphasised the dual focus on sustainability and innovation. “We aim to balance ecological responsibility with cutting-edge advancements to deliver unparalleled service.”

This sentiment was echoed throughout the event, showcasing the industry’s commitment to these core principles.

The event also featured various seminars and workshops where industry leaders discussed pressing topics.

Experts highlighted how the future of hospitality demands time-efficient, seamless, and customised experiences. The theme of this year’s show, ‘Empowering Innovation – Transforming Travel through Entrepreneurship,’ underscored the importance of start-ups and entrepreneurs in shaping the sector’s future.

Technological advancements were a focal point, with exhibitors demonstrating innovations designed to streamline operations and enhance guest experiences.

AI-powered concierge services, smart room controls, and advanced booking systems were among the highlights. The use of biometrics and robotics showcased how technology can create a seamless and personalised experience for guests.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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