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Top 5 trends for UAE luxury hotels to watch out for in 2019!

This is not one of those randomly chosen, half-baked lists. This is an in-depth insight from an expert with more than 27 years of experience in luxury hotels.

Focus on millennials - they are fast becoming the prime customer base Business and Leisure and no longer separate concepts; the "B-Leisure" trend is here! Tap into the massive growth in medical and wellness tourism

We've heard industry analysts talk about everything from improving food and entertainment to introducing artificial intelligence and robots to engage with customers. While some refer to trends that will continue from the previous year, there are others who point to new trends.

Why speculate when you can speak to an expert? That's exactly what we did!

AMEinfo asked Tareq Derbas, General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, for his exclusive insights into the top trends to watch out for in 2019.

… and here's what he had to say:


Tareq Derbas, General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC




1. Social media and influencers
"Social media and networking is definitely going to remain and is going to be more active. Unless you're ahead of the game, you're going to lose much, I mean, with the new generation coming into play.

I think influencer marketing is a very heavy trend. It was late last year, and this year it’s going play a major role. We’ve experienced it ourselves. Every week we have about five influencers coming in.

“It’s easy for me to influence an influencer and for the influencer to influence the social network. When I get an email and I’m told there’s an influencer coming who has 1.5 million followers – this is the jackpot for me!”

What we call it between GMs – fish where the fish are. At least we go and grab the influencers and let them influence their social network.


2. Personalized customer experiences

Personalized and bespoke customer experiences will continue for luxury brand experiences, including interesting and lifestyle food and beverage concepts. Especially in Dubai, I’ve never seen such a market where F&B concepts are born every couple of hours, not even every day, and it’s all new and it’s all trendy. The trend to look out for is not only to get a new concept, but also to make it sustainable. You don’t want to be hot for six months, and then afterwards have people forget about you!

When I went and visited each and every new F&B concept in our hotel, I asked, yes, this is going to click in Dubai; yes, it’s new, trendy and has a lifestyle element, but most important is whether it is sustainable?


3. Millennial – a generation of experiences

I think looking at the new generation of people visiting the hotels – the millennials – and what they require in a hotel is also a new trend.  I think hotels have also started catering their experiences to that requirement. They want the experience more than the objects itself, and therefore, creating the experience is important. Ritz Carlton – as a brand – it’s all about creating these experiences; something you can keep for many years to come as a memory. It’s a culture within the hotel to “wow” the guest. This is very important, but we do it with a lot of care, so we don’t intrude in the guests’ personal spaces.


4. The “B-Leisure” trend

For Dubai, a main trend that will come to us this year and next year is that a lot of business travelers that are coming here will combine business with leisure. I call it “B-Leisure”. They combine it together. They want to come for 3-4 days to do their business; they bring their families with them too. It is cost-effective, and there is a lot to do for families in Dubai. I think we (Ritz Carlton) could gain a lot because we have a big chunk of that group coming to the DIFC and staying with us. This segment is our bread and butter. So, I think, if we need to start being creative with that and create a package for them to come and do their business while we are taking care of the family and kids, I think that would be great.


5. Medical and wellness tourism

Dubai is already positioned as the premier luxury tourism destination. I think a lot of signs are pointing to medical tourism, and I think this is a path that we need to tap very heavily into.

The healthcare establishments that we have in Dubai are of international standards. It is cost effective – it’s the same establishments that you see in the U.S. and Europe, but in this region, it is more cost effective. That’s something that we will definitely see in 2019 and 2020.

Wellness tourism is also something that is coming. A lot of guests who are coming want to make sure that they can have fun but also take care of their well-being. So we need to have an establishment within the facility – the spa, the fitness center, the personal trainer, and the dieticians.


Disappearing trends

A lot of old trends are disappearing, such as planning for vacations. I think that’s gone. A lot of people want to do it quickly, and you need to adapt your system and be flexible to their requirements and needs. The “lead time” is not there – to plan three or six months for a trip.