Check in! – latest hotel highlights from across EMEA

The Blue Swan Daily brings you a round up of some of the latest hotel news from across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

  • FEATURE: New research suggests that digital transformation will become a key differentiator for modern hoteliers
  • BRIEF: Millennium Hotels and Resorts expands Saudi Arabia offer with the opening of Millennium Madinah Airport
  • BRIEF: Marriott debuts in Lithuania with opening of Courtyard by Marriott Vilnius City Center
  • BRIEFMixed May-2018 metrics for hotels across the Middle East and Africa
  • BRIEF: HBAA study starts to show Brexit impact on hospitality and event industry recruitment
  • BRIEF: Ataturk Airport closure in Istanbul represents ‘crisis’ for nearby airport hotels
  • BRIEF: Travelodge urges Local Authorities in Scotland to help regenerate communities and unlock development potential as it plans a further 20 hotels for the county
  • BRIEF: Protea Hotels by Marriott named coolest hotel brand in South Africa for eighth consecutive year

New research suggests that digital transformation will become a key differentiator for modern hoteliers

The digital transformation of the hotel guest experience will be a major competitive advantage for hoteliers in 2018, according to a new report from Sabre Corporation in cooperation with Altimeter, a leading research firm. The Sabre Hospitality Solutions report highlights that digital transformation can be challenging for hoteliers and outlines how brands can use it to improve the guest experience.

The Digital Transformation of the Hotel Guest Experience’ study goes behind the scenes of the digital transformation initiatives and priorities of top hospitality brands. Key findings from the new report include:

  • Guest experience transformation is a priority – as consumers become increasingly connected, their expectations, preferences and behaviours evolve. The result is a more informed and empowered consumer base, and a higher standard for guest experience. Now more than ever, travel brands must assess how connected consumerism is changing and how the customer journey can be reimagined for an evolving, mobile, real-time world. From augmented and virtual reality to artificial intelligence and machine learning, the landscape is changing;
  • Digital Darwinism means constant evolution – successful modern brands are agile and continually experiment with their technology. They intuitively cater to the on-demand nature of customer expectations and preferences in the design of products, services, and user experiences. Whether it’s on mobile, desktop, in-app or on the Web, technologies are designed with experiences in mind. These insights spill into on-property innovation and invention to blur the line between physical and digital, personalizing the guest experience throughout the process.
  • The Modern Guest Experience Blueprint – modern technology enables meaningful experiences at scale, adding major value for the traveller, and in turn, the hotel. To stay relevant, travel brands must place guests at the centre of all innovation and transformation strategies, leveraging technology to enable meaningful experiences at scale.

The report explores a wide range of areas where hoteliers can improve their digital guest experience strategies and offers data-driven insights and suggestions on how brands can lead the charge in continuing to innovate and meet customer needs.

“Our customers who embrace modernization are having great success, resulting in much higher guest satisfaction,” says Clinton Anderson, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “In order to meet the expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumers, hoteliers must adopt flexible solutions that allow them to further personalise both the guest’s digital and physical experience.

A previous global traveller survey conducted by Sabre found that expectations of personalised guest experiences aren’t anything out of the ordinary, really. But, how do modern guests now define personalisation? As the report highlights, in the most basic sense “they expect personalised engagement on the right device, at the right time, with the right message.

More so, “they expect an integrated, seamless, intuitive, frictionless, and delightful journey throughout their lifecycle.” So, no pressure on the hoteliers! As the report notes, this means that modern hospitality brands “need to invest in platforms that facilitate personalised engagement across channels, devices, and customer segments,” or in reality deliver an offer for “an audience of one”.


Millennium Hotels and Resorts expands Saudi Arabia offer with the opening of Millennium Madinah Airport

Millennium Hotels and Resorts has opened a new 227 room, five-star property at Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah. The property has been designed to provide pilgrims and visitors a luxurious accommodation offer just a 30 minute drive away from the centre of Al Madinah al-Munawwarah, the City of Prophet and second holiest city in Islam after Makkah. The Millennium Madinah Airport has also been designed for business, with four distinguished meeting spaces hosting up to 75 guests.


Marriott debuts in Lithuania with opening of Courtyard by Marriott Vilnius City Center
Marriott International has announced the opening of Courtyard Vilnius City Center, marking the first Marriott International property in Lithuania. The hotel is located in the modern growing business area in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, overlooking the city’s landmark, Gediminas’ Castle, and is just steps away from business centres, the old town, and the city’s main attractions. The hotel has 199 guest rooms and complimentary WiFi throughout. Additional features include four meeting rooms with a total of 220 square metres of meeting and function space, as well as a fitness centre offering cardiovascular equipment and free weights. The opening brings the brand’s footprint in Europe to nearly 60 hotels. Further hotel openings are anticipated this year in key growth markets including Germany, UK, and France.


Mixed May-2018 metrics for hotels across the Middle East and Africa
Hotels in the Middle East reported negative May-2018 performance results, while hotels in Africa posted growth across the three key performance metrics, according to data from benchmarking specialist STR. Based on USD constant currency rates occupancy in the Middle East declined-10.7% in May-2018 (versus May-2017) to 57.0%. While average daily room rate (ADR) rose +1.7% to USD151.62 for the month, revenue per available room (RevPAR) declined a significant -9.1% to USD86.45. In Africa, occupancy levels slipped -1.7% to 54.5% in May-2018 (versus May-2017), but ADR rose +4.6% to USD109.67 and RevPAR increased +2.8% to USD59.73.


HBAA study starts to show Brexit impact on hospitality and event industry recruitment
A second annual Brexit survey by the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) shows that Brexit is having an increasingly noticeable effect on recruitment in the hospitality and events industry, but maybe not as large as many would have expected. Its latest findings show a large increase in respondents that said the UK’s decision to leave the EU had impacted recruitment from just 2.3% last year to 9.6% this year. There was also a fall in those that witnessed no effect from Brexit from 80.3% last year to 67.3% this year. More than nine in ten (90.6%) said entry-level posts were proving the hardest to fill since the Referendum vote, however, a similar number ( 86.3%) said they have not changed their recruitment policy since the vote.


Ataturk Airport closure in Istanbul represents ‘crisis’ for nearby airport hotels
Hotels Association of Turkey (TÜROB), representing the interests of Istanbul hotel investors and businesses said the impact of the closure of Istanbul Ataturk Airport following the opening of Istanbul New Airport will be a “crisis” for airport hotels located in the vicinity of Ataturk Airport, which contributed EUR500 million to the economy and 50,000 jobs, EUR230.4 million in revenue in 2017 and forecast revenue of EUR291.2 million in 2018. The TÜROB recommended Ataturk Airport remain open, arguing investments should be made to develop projects involving business and entertainment centres to support the city’s economy if there is no opportunity for the airport to remain open.


Travelodge urges Local Authorities in Scotland to help regenerate communities and unlock development potential as it plans a further 20 hotels for the county
Budget hotel chain Travelodge announced at the official opening of its new Stirling City Centre Travelodge this month that it is looking to expand its Scottish network with a further 20 hotels. This expansion programme represents an investment of GBP125 million for investors and a job creation of 385 new jobs across Scotland. To kick start its expansion programme, Travelodge has writen to the leaders of the Local Authorities of its target locations proposing a joint development partnership that will help regenerate local communities and unlock development potential. These include: Ardrossan, Aviemore, East Kilbride, Edinburgh Park, Falkirk, Galashiels, Glasgow (five locations), Greenock, Hamilton/Motherwell, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Loch Lomond, Montrose, Newton Mearns, Oban, Pitlochry and St Andrews.


Protea Hotels by Marriott named coolest hotel brand in South Africa for eighth consecutive year
In an announcement highlighting the brand’s appeal in the South African market, Marriott International today announced that Protea Hotels by Marriott, has been named the country’s Coolest Hotel Brand in the Sunday Times Generation Next Survey 2018. This is the eighth time in a row that the brand has won this coveted award, indicating a deep understanding of a rapidly evolving marketplace. Now in its 13th year, Generation Next polls the opinions of 5,675 of South Africa’s youth (ages 8 to 22) in urban and peri-urban environments in six provinces. The lifestyle and consumer behaviour questionnaire is boosted by a further 4,622 face-to-face interviews.