Friday, December 1, 2023

Saudi hotels deploy AI, robotics to woo tech-savvy tourists

With Saudi Arabia emerging one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations, the kingdom’s hospitality sector is gearing up to attract an influx of tech-savvy regional and global tourists by investing heavily in new technology, which will revolutionise the Kingdom’s hotel landscape.

From AI to IoT, to big data and robotics, Saudi Arabia’s hotel and hospitality sector is staying ahead of the curve by investing in new technology to optimise their revenue, guest-experiences and operational efficiency, said leading industry experts ahead of the Hotel & Hospitality Expo and its three-day conference, the Hospitality Leaders’ Summit, which kicks off next month in Riyadh.

To be held at the Riyadh Front Exhibition & Conference Centre from September 10 to 12, these events will be co-located with Index Saudi Arabia and the Lighting Design & Technology Expo.

The show will connect manufacturers and suppliers in the hotel and hospitality industry with buyers in the kingdom, all while showcasing the latest technological advancements disrupting the country’s hotel sector. 

Nadeem Zaman, Chief Strategy and Transformation Advisor for the Minister of Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the country’s efforts to boost tourism will see a rise in the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. 

“As the industry looks to differentiate itself, the fourth industrial revolution – and in particular – AI and IoT are looking to make their impact. Expect to see enhanced guest experiences through personalized services, streamlined operations and efficient energy management solutions,” stated Zaman, who will be one of the speakers at this year’s Hospitality Leaders’ Summit.

The event will see leading industry experts discuss how the hotel sector in the kingdom will leverage big data, AI and IoTs to maximize revenue and energy efficiency. 

Manit Narang, Vice President, Hospitality for India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, at Assa Abloy Global Solutions, a key exhibitor at the upcoming event, said both AI and IoT technologies represent game changers in hotels’ abilities to meet guest demands for faster, more convenient and personalized services. 

“We are already seeing several industry businesses adopt solutions such as AI-based chatbots, IoT-enabled motion sensors and lights. These adoption trends are sure to continue increasing at faster paces as both technologies continue to improve and as more solutions become available,” he added.

According to Zaman, the future of the hotel and hospitality landscape in the country lies with the rapid adoption of new technological solutions, some of which can be seen in the industry today. 

“From smart room controls, voice-activated assistance like Amazon Echo or Google Home, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to provide guests with a more immersive experience before arrival, and robotic concierge,” he noted. 

He pointed out that robots were expected to become more commonplace citing the case of the UK’s Yotel Hotel.

“It is expected to open its doors in Oxagon NEOM in 2025 and will feature robotic concierge, motorised smart beds, and a plethora of other high-tech options,” he added. 

Nimirta H Lulla, Vice President of Operations, Middle East and Africa at FutureLog Middle East, believes that the growth of Saudi Arabia’s hospitality industry signals a massive opportunity and appetite for sustainable technological solutions. 

“Since sustainability is a key trend in the hospitality industry, it’s the perfect opportunity to make eco-conscious decisions in the construction and design of new properties, with IoT playing a huge role in the management and monitoring of water and energy consumption, and smart technology instrumental in optimizing in-room guest preferences for lighting and climate control,” stated Lulla.

The optimization of spend will continue to be a key driver of technology in the kingdom, and opportunities for cost-saving will remain a key focus when evaluating investments in tech solutions, she added.

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