Hotel designs need to change, says industry chief

Mike Scully

Innovation and new designs are most important for hoteliers to tap into the market and meet regional supply-led challenges.

According to Michael Scully, managing director hospitality at Dubai-based hotel developer, Seven Tides, conforming to brands and using corporate designs should be put aside for original designs.

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“Guests in the future will be more inclined to favour an authentic cultural experience, entertainment, ambience as well as creative food and beverage initiatives. These aspects need to come through a flexible design to create an overall experience that would be memorable by being different,” he said.

He said while brand identities and standard designs were effective for hotels in the past, he thought innovation was more important today.

He said multi-branding is a good way for hotels to attract guests and access markets. According to Scully, this trend has already come to Dubai, with hotel chains branding themselves with international designers such as Armani, along with other planned properties from Versace and Elisabetta Gucci.

“Gulf hotels presently focus too much on capturing western demand while reacting slowly to the growth potential in the booming economies in Asia and the Far East,” said Scully.

“Innovative design will be essential if hotels here are to create new opportunities to exploit more niche markets and by doing so, broadening their overall appeal,” he added.

Scully said while the “beach, sand and sun approach” has helped capture the Western market, guests from China, India, Indonesia, Korea and other nations in Asia and the sub-continent were still an untapped market.

Dubai hotel stays by Chinese nationals increased 57% between June 2009 and June 2010, according to figures from the Dubai Department of Tourism Commerce and Marketing. More than 81,000 Chinese nationals visited Dubai between January and June 2010, up from 52,000 in the same period in 2009.

However he said in certain market segments, it is necessary to conform. “Three-star hotels for price-conscious business travellers need simple designs that keep development costs down and support a competitive room rate structure,” said Scully.

Technology was another trend Scully said was important. He said it was hotels need not over-spend in guest-room technology, intuitive technology was important. He said fast and secure WiFi, in-room management systems and the latest entertainment, along with video conferencing technology were things hotels should ensure they had.

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