Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023: Experts discuss strategies to respond to changing economic, tourism dynamics

The Hotelier Maldives General Managers (GM) Forum 2023, held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19, 2023, brought together leading experts and practitioners from the tourism industry.

The forum featured a panel discussion titled, “Streamlining Business to Respond to the Changing Economic and Tourism Landscape”, moderated by Hassan Saeed, Resort Manager of Dhigali Maldives, and featuring three panellists from different segments of the industry:

  • Mohamed Ashraf; General Manager, Jumeirah Maldives
  • Sachin Koshe; Senior Business Development Manager, OTA Insight
  • Althaf Ali, Chief Operating Officer, Pulse Hotels & Resorts

The panel addressed four key questions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic recession on the tourism sector in the Maldives, the strategies and best practices of streamlining business operations and processes, the use of technology to optimise revenue management and distribution, and the diversification of products and services to cater to the changing preferences and demands of customers.

Question 1: How has the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the global and domestic economic volatility affected your business performance and outlook? What are some of the key measures or initiatives that you have taken or plan to take to cope with the situation and its impacts?

The panellists agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflicts have had a severe impact on the tourism sector in the Maldives, as well as globally, resulting in a decline in occupancy, revenue, and profitability. They also acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the industry, as well as changed customer behaviour and expectations.

Some of the key measures or initiatives that the panellists have taken or plan to take to cope with the situation and its impacts include:

  • Implementing strict health and safety protocols to ensure the well-being of guests and staff
  • Reducing operational costs and optimising resources
  • Enhancing online presence and visibility
  • Offering flexible booking and cancellation policies
  • Providing value-added services and incentives
  • Developing new partnerships and collaborations
  • Innovating new products and services

Question 2: How do you streamline your business operations and processes to improve your efficiency, productivity, and profitability? What are some of the tools or technologies that you use or recommend to streamline your business?

The panellists shared their approaches and methods of streamlining their business operations and processes, which are essential for enhancing their competitiveness and resilience in the changing economic and tourism landscape. They highlighted the importance of adopting a customer-centric mindset, aligning their goals and strategies with their vision and mission, measuring and monitoring their performance indicators, and continuously improving their quality standards.

Some of the tools or technologies that they use or recommend to streamline their business include:

  • Online travel agents (OTAs) to reach new markets and customers
  • Revenue management systems to optimise pricing and inventory
  • Cloud computing to store and access data securely
  • Artificial intelligence to analyse data and generate insights
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems to manage customer interactions
  • Social media platforms to engage with customers

Question 3: How do you use technology to optimise your revenue management and distribution strategies? What are some of the tools or platforms that you use or recommend to maximise your occupancy, rates, and profitability?

The panellists discussed how they use technology to manage their revenue and distribution channels, such as online travel agents (OTAs), direct bookings, loyalty programmes, etc. They emphasised the need for having a dynamic pricing strategy that responds to market conditions and customer demand, as well as a balanced distribution mix that maximises exposure and minimises costs.

Question 4: How do you diversify your products or services to cater to the changing preferences and demands of your customers? What are some of the new or emerging segments or markets that you target or plan to target?

The panellists highlighted their strategies and practices of diversifying their products or services, which are crucial for attracting and retaining customers in the dynamic and competitive tourism market. They pointed out that customers today are looking for more personalised, authentic, immersive, sustainable, and memorable experiences.

Some of the new or emerging segments or markets that they target or plan to target include:

  • Wellness tourism: offering holistic wellness programmes, spa treatments, yoga sessions, etc.
  • Adventure tourism: offering activities such as diving, snorkelling, surfing, etc.
  • Cultural tourism: offering experiences such as local cuisine, music, art, etc.
  • India: a fast-growing source market with high potential and demand
  • Gulf countries: a loyal and lucrative market with high spending power and repeat visits
  • Russia: a resilient and recovering market with strong interest and affinity

The Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023, which is the most anticipated event for hoteliers in the Maldives, was held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19, 2023. The forum attracted over 100 hoteliers from various resorts and hotels in the Maldives. This year’s forum was sponsored by several leading companies in the hospitality sector, such as Ooredoo Maldives, Fuel Supplies Maldives, Far Horizon, Bestbuy Maldives, Manta Air, Coca-Cola Maldives, Alia Investments, Villa Hakatha, Swimsol, Souvenir Marine, and more.

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