, UAE:– The 6th edition of the annual ROC Middle East Commercial Strategy Conference commenced with a day of insightful dialogues and expert discussions, setting the tone for a transformative event in the realm of hospitality and tourism. The opening addresses by Mona Faraj, Managing Director of HSMAI Middle East, and Bob Gilbert, President & CEO of HSMAI, welcomed a diverse assembly of industry professionals, setting the stage for a day packed with knowledge-sharing and innovation.
The plenary sessions began with a captivating talk by Steven van Belleghem, a Customer Experience Enthusiast, who outlined the journey from customer service aspiration to actualization, likening companies to ‘Diamonds in the Rough’ striving for CX excellence.
Following was a spirited panel discussion on Destination Marketing, moderated by Iva Skrlec, Hilton’s Director of Destination Marketing for MEA & Turkey. Panelists, including Liam Findlay of Miral Destinations, Nicholas Hall of the Digital Tourism Think Tank, and Alka Winter from Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, explored the critical role tourism boards play in molding destination narratives and driving demand.
Marie-Louise Ek, Hilton’s VP of Human Resources MEA, shed light on the ‘Crafting Essential Leadership for Modern Work Realities,’ addressing the megatrends influencing hospitality leadership. The conference then delved into the interconnectedness of commercial decisions and asset value, with a discussion led by Omar Eltahry, a seasoned Hospitality Advisor, and panelists from Accor, United Hospitality Management, and Mashreq, who shared real-world insights on revenue enhancement and asset management.
Mona Faraj, Managing Director of the Middle East chapter of HSMAI said, “As we celebrate the opening of 6th annual ROC Middle East Commercial Strategy Conference, we use this opportunity to chart the future of our industry together with hospitality pioneers from this region.This is a gathering of commercial thought leaders from sales, marketing, revenue management, distribution, hotel brands, and owner groups gathered to share current and future trends. We look forward to covering a wide range of topics, discussions, and best practices, led by world-class regional and international experts in our industry and use this event as a platform to share common goals and achieve greater results as tourism gathers momentum over the coming months.”
Hoor Al Khaja, Senior Vice President, International Operations Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), commented: “Events like the annual ROC Middle East Commercial Strategy Conference further highlights Dubai’s status as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure in line with the goals of the visionary Dubai Economic Agenda, D33. It also showcases the collaborative efforts between the government and private sectors to bolster the city’s tourism industry, as well as drawing attention to the multifaceted destination proposition that forms the cornerstone of Dubai’s ambition to become the best city in the world to visit, live and work in. The insights we gather here from industry experts reflect the broader strategy of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism to shape the future of the hospitality industry and further accelerate momentum across the tourism sector.”
The day’s sessions continued with a range of roundtables, leadership hubs, and partner insights, covering topics from F&B revenue optimization, the influence of technology in hospitality, the transformative impact of Generative AI, to the significance of a robust commercial strategy in today’s dynamic environment. The day concluded with thought-provoking sessions on sustainability in the hospitality industry, emphasizing its impact on profitability and hotel rates.
As the conference progresses, ROC Middle East continues to spark conversations and collaborations that are set to redefine commercial strategies in the hospitality sector. Tomorrow, the ROC Star Awards Ceremony will be recognizing top talent who’ve made a difference in the hotel industry.
HSMAI strongly advocates the importance of sharing best practices as a means to enhance performance in the industry and region and ROC Stars represent the exceptional individuals within the hospitality industry who have made a significant impact. The conference serves as the prestigious platform for presenting winners who have the chance to showcase their hotel’s creativity, exchange ideas, and proudly highlight their talents.
With the finest leading industry leaders under one roof, this year’s conference aims to take the Middle East hospitality sector to the next level where attendees can expand their network by connecting with trailblazers and peers, gain insights from seasoned professionals and learn about the latest trends and strategies.
The event is being organized in partnership with key organizations including Atomize, Fornova, AlMosafer, IDeaS, FLYR for Hospitality, and 20+ other sponsors. As the hospitality sector in the Middle East region expands rapidly and evolves constantly, the conference will provide timely insights to hotel professionals.
Founded in the United States in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprised of nearly 5,000 members from 35 countries and chapters worldwide. The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry’s leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals & their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue. HSMAI operates regionally around the globe via regional boards of directors and staff. The organization is present in multiple regions: the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East .