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Investing in change for the hospitality industry – why technology and a focus on people are the winning formula.

This year’s conference theme for the Future Hospitality Summit Saudi Arabia (FHS) is ‘Invest in Change’, highlighting the importance of the positive change that can be brought forward through the investment in time, intellect and expertise in the hospitality industry to keep up with changing times and trends to better shape the future of the industry. In the lead up to the event we asked a number of industry partners how they are investing in change.

Innovation in any industry is often propelled by two primary forces. One is certainly the evolving habits and preferences of consumers, which themselves tend to be driven by the second factor in this equation of transformation – technology.

Nowhere does this ring true more than in hospitality, an industry impelled forward by monumental leaps in cutting-edge innovation. And nowhere is this more prevalent than in the advent of the cities of the future.

As the pinnacle of a new era in urban development, a cognitive community such as the one being built at NEOM represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for pioneering enterprises and service providers to make their mark on the world stage.

Indeed, to truly stay ahead in an increasingly competitive hospitality ecosystem, this unique environment is the ideal playground for bold, unfettered innovation that will not only revolutionize guest experiences, but also serve as an example of leadership and ingenuity for other sectors and industries to follow.

With no legacy infrastructure and a blank canvas invigorated by predictive and proactive technologies and solutions that will enhance lives and enrich the human experience, NEOM is building a world-class tourism sector. In parallel, it is also pursuing the ambition to serve as an economic engine for Saudi Arabia, fueling the diversification goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

Fundamental to these efforts is NEOM Hotel Development, a standalone division responsible for creating and operating hotels of the future, while accelerating human progress by redefining how we travel, stay and live.

More specifically, it is the ability to shape a new frontier in experiential hospitality that sets NEOM Hotel Development apart, as it brings to life properties built around unique, groundbreaking, and diverse concepts, and seamless services carefully tailored to guest profiles.

Predictive solutions will take the hospitality trends initiated by the development of mobile technology to the next level, transforming the guest experience with services such as biometric check-in and room access.

Other innovations, such as an AI-powered cognitive concierge, will automate and manage all aspects of the guest journey – from home-to-hotel-room luggage assistance to hyper-personalizing their stay according to interests, lifestyle, and wellbeing preferences, as well as any health-related considerations.

Cognitive technology will also allow NEOM Hotel Development to supercharge efficiencies in energy use and maintenance, streamlining hotel operations, automating tasks, and freeing up staff to offer the warmth and service excellence that will challenge and reinvent every dimension of modern hospitality.

That said, NEOM’s approach to innovation in technology has neither been nor will ever be to diminish the importance of the human element in any way. Empowering people is at the very center of NEOM’s philosophy.

To this end, NEOM Hotel Development is developing a dynamic and diverse future workforce to host visitors from across the globe and showcase human creativity as a primary driver of both value and novel, meaningful experiences.

Built on the foundations of a culture that reimagines working in hospitality, NEOM Hotel Development is committed to making it an attractive career path and nurturing proud Saudi ambassadors who will form the bedrock of the industry.

The same culture cherishes diversity and supports expertise, enabling people to dream big and realize their potential. It invites a strong, ambitious contingent of youth talent from all walks of life and from across the Kingdom and beyond to forge a career at NEOM and play a leading role in changing the future of hotels.

NEOM Hotel Development is further investing in change in hospitality by encouraging democratization in the workplace, where the absence of a traditional hierarchy will allow for community building and fluidity of roles and responsibilities that emphasize the need for hyper-collaboration.

A workforce empowered to ideate boldly and creatively to truly deconstruct hospitality from the ground up will entail the adoption of a ‘prototype’ mindset, bringing concepts to life as quickly and as often as possible.

Our industries, economies, and indeed the world at large were reconfigured by the existential challenges of the Covid pandemic. A comprehensive recovery will come only for those that can evolve – from reactive to proactive action. In other words, this new era has brought with it an abundance of opportunity, but to make the most of it, we must not only change with the times. We must be the change.

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