|Middle East and North Africa Business
Report, Amman, JordanMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Feb. 27, 2007 - According to Paris-based trade publisher Cleverdis, hotels throughout the region are leading the US$ 33 billion global technology spend in hospitality, not just with the countless new developments, but also with older hotels determined to maintain their competitive edge. With management increasingly looking to invest heavily in technology, to compete effectively in the hi-tech arena, The Hotel Show 2007, which takes place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) on June 3-5, will feature a new Technology & Security Sector.
The use of the latest computerised systems in Middle East hotels has now become a key differentiator in attracting foreign visitors and optimising hotel profits and efficiency. To accommodate the rapid growth in technology for the hotel sector, the one thousand square metre Technology and Security Sector, has attracted key hotel technology leaders such as Siemens, Orbit, Key Information Technology, Al Sayegh and Bond Communications are participating. Maggie Moore, Exhibition Director, The Hotel Show 2007, commented, "Many hotels throughout the region now consider technological infrastructure as a valuable long-term asset and not just a capital expense. New technologies' decisions are now strategic, taking into account guest needs, new revenue streams, and returns on investment. Our new Technology & Security Sector is a testament to the importance of technology in the hospitality sector."
Existing hotels in many countries throughout the region are playing 'catch-up' when it comes to implementing new technology. They are installing, updating and renewing their systems on an ongoing basis. Meanwhile, Other new hotels and projects in the Gulf region are leading global technology spends, said to be worth in excess of US$ 33 billion annually.
Traditionally, the Middle East has focused on the luxury end of the market. However the budget sector is becoming increasingly important. These mid-market hotels have to run efficiently if they are to attract market share and establish their niche. In this day and age, they can only do this if they have the technology that the modern traveller expects and takes for granted.
From a guest's perspective, wireless internet access has become increasingly important, alongside the latest digital pay to view and video on demand.
Wireless network has become a value-added service and extra revenue earner, but can also be used as an in-house productivity tool for taking restaurant orders via a wireless PDA. It's technology that's potentially self-funding.
Fixed networks are being built on new technology with sufficient bandwidth to support emerging technologies such as integrated communications -- voice, video and data.
On the software side, business intelligence systems are being used to analyse pricing and visitor trends, profitability and other decision-making issues.
Apart from connectivity, in-room service and core back-of-house systems and its related software security is also becoming a big issue with surveillance equipment now hooked up to integrated systems capable of digital video.
Security is also a computer issue with so many guests logged into the hotel's network. Guests need to be assured that they are protected against viruses and the hotel itself needs to be protected from internal network abuse.
Technology also plays a role in other areas such as door locks, lighting, sound systems such as the ubiquitous iPod, digital signage, point of sales and telephone systems.
Copyright (c) 2007, Middle East and North Africa Business Report, Amman, Jordan
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