It is a matter of ranking: Gulf’s bid for lasting tourism experience

“Now is all.” Long awaited FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has started. As the group stage begins, the event’s positive impact on tourism and hospitality is becoming evident. Like many GCC countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Qatar is looking to diversify its export revenues within a decade, and tourism is the smart choice to focus on. As of 2021, tourism contributes about 6-7% of the GDP of Qatar, and the country plans to hit 12% by 2030. However, although tourism offers profits, the industry simultaneously brings new challenges, especially when the demand for adaptive technology is unprecedented.

Qatar is expecting 1.2 million visitors during the month-long tournament. Fans have booked accommodations such as rooms, tents, apartments, villas, and portacabins for the World Cup. However, the Gulf country is not the sole destination for travelers; the event triggered a massive jump in GCC air travel as UAE leads with a 700% jump in bookings. The jump is due to the fact that many travelers enjoy match-day flights. Like Qatar, neighboring countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia get bookings from football fans worldwide. Hotels in Dubai are overbooked and therefore the Dubai Marathon postponed from December 2022 to February 2023. Saudi Arabia has allowed World Cup ticket holders multiple-visa entry into the kingdom.

Responding to an unprecedented demand is a severe challenge for hospitality businesses. Smart pricing strategies are needed to optimize the best results while meeting the demand; setting rules such as “minimum stays per each reservation” comes in handy to yield the best results; in Qatar’s case, it is seven nights per reservation since fans will spend seven nights on average. In addition, channel management tools are needed to act swiftly to comply with the market pricing and availability dynamics. 

World Cup constitutes an excellent opportunity for promoting further the digital transformation of the hospitality industry in the region. Apart from handling the demand, providing the best guest experience is essential for reputation. However, managing the influx of guests can be troublesome as the skilled labor shortage further increases the pressure on properties. Therefore property management systems come in handy with a large number of demanding passengers.

World Cup 2022 is the first global competition of this magnitude since the pandemic, and it is known for a fact that the inflow of fans during the World Cup will bring many best practices, lessons and a boost for the hospitality industry. The Gulf region is eager and open to transformation and the event will institute a positive change. As HotelRunner, we will be carefully observing the course of events and plan our research and development efforts according to the emerging needs of the market. As a leading hospitality technology company, HotelRunner owes the leading product development history to this approach. We already think that adaptive technology can be transformative for the region.

Qatar’s bid for World Cup was beyond the event itself. As the country and the region are progressing toward the tourism industry, the World Cup will present a challenge for football squads and the Gulf Region. The trophy is a lasting tourism experience that looks very likely.

Fatih Tuncer

Content Manager @ HotelRunner

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