COM­MENT

Our colum­nists urge hote­liers to turn data into cus­tomer in­sights, crit­i­cise cookie-cut­ter F&B con­cepts, muse about mak­ing mis­takes and con­sider what is hap­pi­ness

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Shishira Sreeni­vas talks about women in hos­pi­tal­ity; Martin Kubler on giv­ing back; Naim Maadad talks de­pre­ci­a­tion and apre­ci­a­tion; Michel Noblet talks about to brand or not to brand.

Women in hos­pi­tal­ity Change is com­ing

It’s been quite a month for the Hote­lier Mid­dle East team. My team and I are still re­cov­er­ing from all the ex­cite­ment from the 14th edi­tion of Hote­lier Mid­dle East Awards 2018 which was held on Oc­to­ber 24 at the Le Méri­dien Dubai Ho­tel & Con­fer­ence Cen­tre.

It was my first Hote­lier Awards event and I can safely say it’s one for the mem­o­ries. With 124 nom­i­nees and 14 ho­tel teams across 18 cat­e­gories, hote­liers from all across the Mid­dle East came to rep­re­sent their teams in the hopes of be­ing recog­nised for the hard work they put in over the last year.

We re­ceived nearly 400 ap­pli­ca­tions for the awards and what stood out to me what was the num­ber of women hote­liers ap­ply­ing for the var­i­ous cat­e­gories have steadily risen, and this is no shocker. Women make up a sig­nif­i­cant part of the work­force at any given ho­tel.

Women have been step­ping out of “tra­di­tion­ally fe­male” roles and tak­ing on po­si­tion which have been tra­di­tion­ally male-dom­i­nated. This was ev­i­denced by 28-year-old Zehra Ma­sood, the pur­chas­ing di­rec­tor at Fair­mont Dubai (p 58) who walked away with the ‘Pro­cure­ment Per­son of the Year’ award.

Women are tak­ing on chal­leng­ing roles and com­pa­nies are forg­ing new paths too. Emaar broke new ground with the ap­point­ment of Sharihan Al Mashary (p 30) as the first fe­male Emi­rati gen­eral man­ager of Manzil Down­town Dubai, part of the Vida Ho­tels & Re­sorts brand. I had the priv­i­lege to sit down with Al Mashary to speak at length about her plans to bring forth ini­tia­tives to en­cour­age gen­der equal­ity and for women to join the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

Se­nior on­line edi­tor Sarak­shi Rai also had the op­por­tu­nity to catch up Ac­corho­tel’s chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer in charge of Dig­i­tal, Dis­tri­bu­tion, Sales and In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems Maud Bail­ley who spoke in length about Ac­cor’s ‘Ri­ise’ pro­gramme which fo­cuses on gen­der equal­ity (watch out for this on our Youtube chan­nel).

And con­sid­er­ing that for years, one of the crit­i­cisms of Hote­lier Mid­dle East’s an­nual Power 50 list is that there are no women in­cluded in the make-up of the list.

How­ever, the num­ber of women in the Mid­dle East and North Africa (MENA) hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor may be set to in­crease. Comap­nies are tak­ing no­tice and are launch­ing their own ini­tia­tives to ad­dress the is­sue. Ac­corho­tels has com­mited to in­clude 35% fe­male ho­tel man­ager in its global port­fo­lio.

Hil­ton ap­pointed the first fe­male gen­eral man­ager in Dubai, Nayla Chowd­hury to head the world’s largest Hamp­ton by Hil­ton Dubai Air­port (video in­ter­view avail­able on Hote­lier’s Youtube chan­nel.

Rotana Ho­tels pro­moted Shaikha Al Nowais as the new vice pres­i­dent — owner re­la­tion­ship man­age­ment, a new role to fo­cus on owner-op­er­a­tor re­la­tions.

Ho­tel com­pa­nies are def­i­nitely recog­nis­ing gen­der di­ver­sity as an is­sue and work­ing on bring­ing about ef­fec­tive longterm change.

So we’ve de­cided to cre­ate the first ‘Women in Hos­pi­tal­ity’ list that pays homage to the women at the top of their ca­reers work­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in the re­gion. The ap­pli­ca­tions have been pour­ing in and the re­sponse from ho­tels have been ex­tremely pos­i­tive and over­whelm­ing .

The ed­i­to­rial team is ex­cited to get a head start on the sur­veys to read about women hote­liers across var­i­ous roles within the Mid­dle East and North Africa.

The full list of the fi­nal­ists for the power list will be avail­able on Hote­lier Mid­dle East’s dig­i­tal channels by the end of the cal­en­der year.

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