Complex Made Simple

wasl hospitality and leisure hosts unique hospitality innovation lab

Workshop an anchor event in UAE Innovation Week

wasl hospitality and leisure, a subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group, participated in UAE Innovation Week with the hosting of a unique ‘Innovation Lab’.

Taking place on Sunday, November 22 at Emirates Golf Club, the event was dedicated to the concept of putting new ideas into practice and focussed on how being innovative creates a dynamic working environment.

wasl hospitality and leisure’s Innovation Lab’s agenda revolved around introducing the concept of innovation in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sector to attendees. The session objective was to define its terms and explore how innovation can be utilised to add value in Dubai’s hospitality sector. Among the themes discussed were how technology, business and human values can be unified to reach breakthrough ideas and solve major problems. General Managers and senior personnel from 14 hotels in the wasl portfolio participated in the day-long forum.

“Innovation is evolution – humanity has made its most significant breakthroughs by challenging existing beliefs and re-defining the way people go about their lives. The hospitality industry has always been an industry of standards and wasl hospitality and leisure is committed to an ongoing process of innovation that will allow it to continue to prosper as it moves forward. Our Innovation Lab was able to challenge traditional standards and explored alternative ways forward through the sharing of ideas,” said Mustafa Al Hashimi, CEO of wasl hospitality and leisure.

The first part of wasl’s Innovation Lab executed ‘Cross Pollination’ and examined ‘Best Practices’ for its hotels. Each General Manager in attendance shared three innovative initiatives that they have implemented – an assignment that was requested at the end of last year when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced 2015 as being the Year of Innovation inspired by the directives of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The exercise was planned so that the ideas that have been effective in one attendee’s workplace could be adopted by the other Lab participants and taken to their own areas of practice.

The second aspect to the Innovation Lab saw the attendees utilising ‘design thinking’ to work together to identify five major challenges and problems facing the hospitality industry in Dubai. Placed into groups of six, each party conducted a one-hour workshop to come up with innovative ideas to solve these problems. The groups then presented their solutions, with voting undertaken to establish the best one. The attendees were requested to take this top idea to their respective places of work to be tested as a prototype.

“Design thinking is a series of steps based on empathy that allows a group of thinkers to yield the best ideas possible. The process not only sparks the idea itself, it provides the platform to dissect it and make it better. It supports the evolution of that idea because it integrates itself into a never ending cycle. Design thinking enables us to define challenges and provide solutions for them while keeping in mind emotions,” added Al Hashimi.

wasl hospitality and leisure’s Innovation Lab formed an inaugural activity in what will be an ongoing programme of making improvements to its operations through idea sharing and new method implementation. The same group of attendees will reconvene in the second quarter of 2016 to share updates on results and again at the close of 2016 to conduct the second instalment of the Innovation Lab, thereby repeating the process and enabling ongoing evaluation.