AHIC 2018: Day of Disruption to kick off Ras al Khaimah event | News

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference will kick off with a Day of Disruption, designed to shake-up traditional ways of thinking and bring insight to the hospitality investment industry from forward thinkers operating in various sectors, from cybersecurity and cryptocurrencies to marketing and motorsports.

Taking place at the purpose-built AHIC Village in the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, this 14th edition of AHIC promises to harvest knowledge from outside of the hotel industry and challenge the status quo.

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, organisers of AHIC, explained: “The hospitality industry is often criticised for not keeping ahead of trends or driving innovation.

“That’s because hotels are a rooms-based business model, offering bed and breakfast – something that will always be needed, as long as people continue to travel.

“There is little motivation, quite understandably, to change this.

“However, as the hotel market in this region matures, competition increases, putting performance and profitability under pressure, so investors are quite rightly focusing on the future and carefully analysing the potential of current and future assets alike,” continued Worsley.

“Many of the hotel owners we speak with at AHIC invest in other industries as well and are keen to see how the hospitality industry will adopt new technologies and create alternative operating models.

“This is why we are kicking off AHIC 2018 with The Day of Disruption, which will bring together chief executives from some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies, such as Winding Tree, Vayner Media and TINT, to share their knowledge with the industry.

“This will no doubt fuel the debate for the rest of AHIC, which will address business-critical issues including the macro economic outlook, global leadership, destination development, international investment opportunities, value engineering and asset management,” said Worsley.

Headlining the Day of Disruption on April 17th is Frits Dirk van Paasschen, author of The Disruptor’s Feast and former chief executive of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

According to van Paasschen, established interests, change-blindness and set ways of working mean hotel brands will wake up too late to disruption, making it nearly impossible for incumbents to survive.

“There is so much change still to come, and most of the industry is still asleep,” said Paasschen, who believes “lodging capacity in the space between traditional hotels and first-generation peer-to-peer accommodations” will be the major disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018.

In this highly-relevant kick-off to AHIC, van Paasschen will present his own thoughts – including those on how the hospitality industry can lead the way to a carbon-neutral future – and welcome other experts from outside of the industry to share their essential insights for hotel owners and operators.

Speakers include Maksim Izmaylov, chief executive, Winding Tree, specialist in blockchain technology, who holds a similar view to van Paasschen.

“There is no innovation in the hospitality industry, that’s the main problem.

“There are no and will be no new disruptors in the industry until we break the monopolistic grip on it,” said Izmaylov, who will present how blockchain can be used to circumvent OTAs.

Partner of AHIC 2018, Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, said technology would be the biggest disruptor to the hospitality industry in 2018.

“I am referring to technology that improves the customer experience, and tech that improves operator efficiency. The ultimate disruptors will be tech that achieves both,” said Mattar.

“The UAE’s leadership has a clear plan to build smart cities, and a smart society.

“They are investing heavily in all the pillars that will enable this vision, including smart transportation, crowd management, smart buildings and smart tourism. Investors need to be aware of these developments, and align with them,” he added.

AHIC 2018, which promises to further knowledge, deepen existing relationships and forge new ones among the leaders of the hospitality investment community, will attract around 800 hotel investors, major developers, leading financiers, and C-level hotel executives to attend three days of content, networking and events.

For registrations and for more information, visit the official website.

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