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Tue 24 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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No business like show business

As exhibitor numbers rack up and hotels around the region contemplate refurbishment plans, Hotelier Middle East finds out why The Hotel Show has become such a paradise of procurement.

As exhibitor numbers rack up and hotels around the region contemplate refurbishment plans, Hotelier Middle East finds out why The Hotel Show has become such a paradise of procurement.

Following on from the success of last year's event, exhibitors are returning by the hundreds with high expectations of the region's key hospitality industry event - The Hotel Show 2008.

On show

SARA Hotel Supplies UAE sales manager Abdulhamid Diab explains that SARA has been absent from The Hotel Show for the past two years, participating instead in the Gulfood show.

The hotel show caters more to professionals, and that’s what we need

"We're returning to The Hotel Show after we found Gulfood too large an event; it became regional rather than local," Diab says.

"Being that we are a local branch that caters to the local market, The Hotel Show provides a more personal experience with our current and future clients without the noise and the traffic that could be found in other exhibitions."

Rubelli Sahco is making its third appearance at The Hotel Show - having also defected from another event, as contract manager Hektor von Schledorn explains.

"Initially we were exhibiting at Index, but it stopped being suitable for us," he says. "The Hotel Show caters more to professionals, and that's what we need."

There are various reasons for exhibitors to return - one of which is to find a distributor in the region, as in the case of Lightworks Resources.

Company president Rashmi Tolentino Singh explains that it will be the company's fourth appearance at The Hotel Show, and that it will be looking for representation.

Création Baumann manager and design coordinator Veenu Kanwar believes The Hotel Show is an essential event for suppliers looking to break into this market. "We've been exhibiting at this show right from the year that it started," says Kanwar.

The Middle East region enjoys a role of paramount importance [in this industry], being one of the most active growth regions in the world with a booming construction and hospitality industry and one of the world's most buoyant economies."

Diversified General director Valerie Abernathy adds that following Diversified's first appearance at last year's Hotel Show, the company negotiated some very good contracts from contacts made at the exhibition.

"We feel the show is an important medium for us to keep our profile high amongst the countries that we do not get to visit very often, such as Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and some African countries," Abernathy adds.

The event is also an ideal palace to make announcements, as Phil Payne, general manager of Dornbracht Middle East, explains.

"We announced our Middle East launch at The Hotel Show 2007, so this is our second year," he says. "With the massive construction boom in the region, especially in the hospitality industry, there's hardly a better place to meet the decision makers in the hotel industry than The Hotel Show."

There will also be a sizeable number of first-time exhibitors to look out for, such as Zumtobel Lighting.

Heading up the company's international projects is Herbert Wessin, who explains: "The United Arab Emirates has become a region of great opportunity for us, especially in the hospitality and wellness sector, which has grown tremendously during the last years.

We believe that we have unique solutions for this market and feel that The Hotel Show provides us with an ideal launch pad for presenting these solutions."

This will also be Samsung Electronic's first year at the exhibition. The company's general manager - business development Marco Vocale explains: "Our presence this year can be primarily attributed to our global decision to focus on the B2B and vertical markets, namely the hospitality industry." Show stoppers

Since its conception, The Hotel Show has become a prime place for new product launches - and this year will be no exception.

SARA's Diab believes it is important to have something new to offer the crowds. "Villeroy and Boch, which is exclusive to SARA Hotel Supplies, has introduced several new ranges for 2008 that has already been well received by the hotel industry in other markets.

We will be exhibiting the Cera, Marlene, and Vivian ranges at our stand along with other Villeroy and Boch items that our industry won't find from visiting one hotel after another here in the UAE," he reveals.

For the first time the hotel show is organising a corporate catwalk to showcase uniforms for the hotel industry.

Indeed there will be a whole host of products on show for the first time, from flatware to flooring.

Valérie Forme, founder of French tableware company Le Jardin De L'Ange will be introducing her new collections of hand-painted glass and porcelain, while Antique Mirror will be displaying a range of tables, lighting fixtures, art-mosaic panels and wall-mirrors.

Dream Hospitality will showcase a variety of products including Brinkhaus bedding and Denny's chef-wear and shoes.

Baci by Remcraft, a manufacturer of luxury, lighted make-up and shaving mirrors, will launch its new design-oriented series, featuring 24-karat gold finishes and Swarovski crystals.

Lisaura Paris's new models of bar and restaurant chairs and armchairs will include one design with a light system incorporated into the back of the seats, as well as decorative inclusions such as Murano glass and gold leaf.

Intercoil International will showcase its orthopedic bedding and sleep systems, including a technologically advanced air bed featuring a ‘dual sleep zone' in the same mattress, via which each side can provide a different sleep comfort.

Pradeep Parmar is the managing director of Enthusiasm, a first time exhibiting company new to the hotel industry.

"During the last year our endeavor has been to introduce reusable jute bags as an alternative to plastic and paper bags," explains Parmar. "Our focus has been on the major retailers and to introduce them to the concept of providing an alternative to final consumers to use jute shopping bags.

During the year we have also developed ranges that we would like to offer the hotel industry.

"Tourism creates a carbon imprint and now the operators and travellers are looking a ways to reduce the carbon imprint and use more sustainable and biodegradable alternatives," Parmar continues.

In line with this industry initiative we will be launching a whole range of jute bags focused towards meeting the demands of the hotel industry. These bags will be provided to every visitor to the show."

Another firm focusing on the environment is Architectural Brass, which will showcase luggage carts, ash urns, trash receptacles and recycling units, the majority of which are made from 100% recyclable materials.

One of the eye-catching new offerings on show will be Alfombras Peña's hand-woven tapestries. Company sales director Zuzana Jancoskova says the tapestry themes will include ‘Hunting with Falcon' and ‘Flowers'.

"Our sensitivity and good work is evident in each one of the unrepeatable pieces produced entirely by hand, which distinguish and provide unique value to any environment," adds Jancoskova.

Philips will be launching the Philips Ambilight TV, a unique television set that projects a soft light glow onto the walls around it, which automatically changes to match the colours and brightness of the picture.

The overall effect apparently "improves perceived contrast, colour and detail, giving the sensation of looking at a wider picture", and has even been proven to reduce eyestrain.

Other technological treats will include Atra International's latest HITV system, Otrum Evolution, a product platform based on IP technology and MPEG II streaming, with fully-flexible user interface designs and animated interactive menus. Show off

How these products are presented requires much forethought and planning, to ensure that the items are displayed to maximum effect - as in the case of Rohmix International, presenting its unique Lopark parquet flooring.

Chief executive and owner Kristin Scheffer explains: "We have chosen four wood species and we will lay them in different ways, so that potential or existing customers get an idea of what is possible."

UA Creation will be using another method to display uniforms for all major departments of the hotel industry, as marketing manager Madhurima Aggarwal explains.

For the first time, The Hotel Show is organising a corporate catwalk to showcase uniforms for the hotel industry. Our company is participating in the fashion catwalk over all three days of the show," Aggarwal says.

Zumtobel's display will revolve around technological innovation ZBOX, a plug-and-play lighting control system specifically designed to provide a simple user-friendly control system for the different lighting scenes required in the modern hotel bedroom.

To display the product to its best advantage, it will be presented within a light cube designed to simulate such a room.

In some cases, there is simply not enough room to showcase everything, as PT Sourcing Bali / Hospitality Essentials director Desmond James explains.

"There are more than 1000 products in our range of bedroom, bathroom, table top and spa accessories. We will have a sample range of products that will reflect the styles, scope and quality of our designs. Sadly, we cannot bring all 1000 products with us, so we will be giving out the latest CD ROMS of our products," James says.

Similarly, Diva Siam Intertrade will only be bringing its new collections to this year's show, says managing director Usa Nopporn.

"We are proud to present glass items with colour added this year," she adds. "And as this year is our tenth anniversary we will have some souvenirs for those who visit our booth, to celebrate the occasion," she says.

For some it's not about showcasing a tangible product, as Alpha Data marketing manager Julia Ibbini explains. "Rather than products, we will be promoting our capabilities as a systems integrator for the hospitality industry.

The complexity of the systems required for a hotel environment is often underestimated, particularly when it comes to integrating them seamlessly," she says.

"We are one of the very few companies available in the region that is capable of this level of integration and we really want to promote this fact during the show."

Showing ambition

As the show grows in both size and reputation, so do the ambitions of those exhibiting there. So what is it that has enticed this year's attendees to come along, and what do they hope to achieve?

SARA's Diab feels the exhibition has noticeably diversified since it began. "I was questioned on why we are participating in The Hotel Show when we made the decision, as generally it has been understood to cover furniture, tables, chairs accessories and so on,' Diab explains.

"So I asked, what are hotels to put on these tables and chairs? It's not just a furniture exhibition or a designer's exhibition; it's a hotel show, and crockery is an essential part of the aesthetic ambiance of any F&B outlet or room within the hotel."

Enthusiasm's Parmar believes the show can be the perfect introduction for a new company into the region's hotel industry.

The purpose of participation in The Hotel Show is to introduce our offering; make buyers in the hotel industry aware of the jute bag alternative and reusable and sustainable option to paper and plastic bags," Parmar explains.

Deco Manufacturing's George Mifsud adds that thanks to the high level of competition in the Middle East's hotel industry, the Dubai show is a great opportunity to meet hoteliers who are planning to refurbish their properties, or even parties building new hotels.

With all this going for it, it is hardly surprising that The Hotel Show is attracting more exhibitors, both new and established, year on year - along with consistently prestigious sponsors.

This year, Depa has signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with The Hotel Show. The company's chief executive Mohannad Sweid says Depa has high expectations for the 2008 event.

Depa has never exhibited any products in the past; [this year] our aim is to focus on brand awareness," he explains. "As The Hotel Show's official industry partner, our strategy is to accentuate our market-leading position and strengthen our brand. Showing the future

With so many industry aficionados in one place, there is bound to be a lot of talk about current trends and what direction the market is heading in; so what will this year's hot topics be?

SARA's Diab says his primary concern is the current trend of "external influences to our industry".

"We have had to deal with the strengthening Euro like almost every other company that imports from Europe," Diab says. "As a result, we have had to adjust so we are able to provide our clients and future clients a fixed price throughout the year regardless of the Euro rate.

"We've also come across an interesting pattern that began late last year, and that's the fact that rising construction costs plays an indirect role in the procuring for the F&B outlets.

So much is spent on the raw materials such as cement and steel and the labor that when it comes to procuring for the F&B outlets, some owners are very price sensitive when it comes to crockery purchases.

At times, the operators could be hurt by this because items are procured from a supplier that won't necessarily provide quality after-sale service or might not have the consistent quality service that is obviously needed for a hotel and its continued operations."

Diab adds that in the near future he hopes to see a re-evaluated star system for the UAE.

"I understand some hotels were or are built to meet a certain star classification only and not necessarily five stars, but there has been a lot of discussion regarding the lack of economy or three-star (and lower) hotels," he comments.

"I have to disagree with that point; our market has plenty of economy hotels. Our hotels need to be re-evaluated based on what our market has to offer today or this year.

There are a quite a few hotels that are considered four- or five-star properties but that could easily be ranked down to three- or four-star.

As a result of the re-evaluated star system, the UAE hotel industry would stay fresh and competitive and could give proper recognition to those hotels that have been able to maintain (or even exceed) their previous quality, service and products on offer."

On a different tack, the majority of exhibitors, including Remcraft's Robboy, believe a big future focus will be on the environment. "Green products, energy-efficient products and eco-friendly products are the direction the hospitality industry is taking these days and we all have to do our part," Robboy says.

Zumtobel's Wessin notes: "Incandescent lamps are being replaced with compact fluorescent lamps to reduce energy consumption and the interest in LED luminaries is growing every day."

Premier Fine Linens senior manager - marketing Joshy Michael K adds that he has witnessed a growing interest throughout the Middle East in organic food and clothing. "Awareness is also growing in the hotel industry about the need to care for nature by using fewer detergents and so on," Michael K says.

Another region-specific trend, according to Power Brands Hospitality RAK director of sales - Middle East Anouska Leibovici, is an increase in family travel.

"We find that 35% of travellers are interested in places that cater to children," she says. "With luxury amenities designed specifically for children, the hotel's youngest guests will feel especially welcomed and valued."

And on the technological side, Hasanain A. Al Attar, business development manager for Atra International, believes that there is an increasing surge in internet marketing.

"Nowadays technology plays an important role in the hotel industry in order to reach more customers and establish better relationship with them," he says.

Thus products such as hotel online software, digital signage and conference presenter, which enable the hotel to establish a mutually beneficial interactive relationship with customers, are becoming more popular."

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