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Hospitality South Africa

#ATM2024: Experts urge luxury hotels to prioritise authenticity

Industry professionals explored strategies for standing out in the oversaturated luxury travel sector of the Middle East during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024, held from 6 to 9 May 2024 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Panellists at the exhibition emphasised authenticity, personalisation, and guest experience as pivotal factors for brands seeking differentiation in a competitive landscape.
Source: mrsiraphol via
Source: mrsiraphol via Freepik

Industry experts noted that while the architectural designs of hotel operators’ premises may vary, it is important for luxury brands to establish common values and authentic experiences across their portfolios.

From the language used to convey a company’s offering to the integration of local heritage and culture within individual hotels, speakers told ATM attendees that luxury players must remain laser-focused on delivering unique value propositions for guests.

Panellists participating in the Next-level Luxury: How to Stand Out as Truly Premium in an Oversaturated Market summit included Claudia Kozma Kaplan, SVP & global head of brand at Raffles; Richard Alexander, GM of The Lana (Dorchester Collection); Michael Grieve, chief brand officer at Jumeirah; and Marco Franck, chief hospitality officer at Boutique Group.

The session was moderated by John O'Ceallaigh, founder of The Luxury Travel Edit Limited.

Infusing local culture

Participants said that rather than attempting to replicate luxury across multiple locations, the most successful luxury hospitality brands are infusing their hotels with local art, music and cuisine.

For example, panellists acknowledged the value that can be added by the personal involvement of renowned celebrity chefs, but noted the importance of simultaneously nurturing and providing opportunities for homegrown culinary talent.

Speakers also emphasised the pivotal role of effective recruitment and retention in establishing teams that are equipped to meet and exceed expectations through hyper-personalised service.

From retaining information about customers’ favourite foods to their children’s birthdays, summit participants told attendees that exceptional guest experiences are essential for luxury hoteliers looking to distinguish themselves in an overcrowded market.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Given the number of players in the Middle East’s luxury hospitality segment, it is no surprise that hoteliers are looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd.

"It was fascinating to hear such a diverse array of insights from our panellists, who provided some excellent examples of how brands can redefine what modern luxury means to their guests.”

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