RIYADH: As the situation with the hospitality industry continues to deteriorate, some have buckled under the pressure. Others, however, have harnessed the power of technology to overcome the hurdles presented by the current global crisis.
A group of forward-thinking industry leaders have put together the online conference Hospitality Tomorrow to provide people in the tourism sector the opportunity to virtually meet, discuss future possibilities and network.
From the safety of their own homes and offices, multiple speakers came together. They included Dr. Paul Stoltz, originator of Adversity Quotient and founder of PEAK Learning; Roger Bootle, chairman of Capital Economics; and Najib Balala, cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife in Kenya.
Hosted by Bench Events, the conference — the first of its kind — kicked off Tuesday morning on the online platform Hopin. The platform allows over 5,000 registrants from all over the world to meet in a virtual expo space, to network one-on-one or in groups, and to attend panels and workshops and even visit virtual ‘booths’ to meet with representatives of companies in the hospitality industry and discuss the post-pandemic future of the industry.
Jonathan Worsley, chairman and founder of Bench Events, made a statement about the importance of such an event.
“It is crucial that we rebuild confidence in the global community. Now is the time to make those critical connections necessary to foster relationships and unity and find actionable ways to support one another now for a strong response as one industry and one community,” he said.
Saudi Arabia contributed to the conference with a talk from Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla.
In a segment hosted by Anita Mendiratta, Special Advisor to the Secretary General at the United Nations World Trade Organization and member of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) Advisory Board Al-Madani praised the efforts of his team, who were working from around the globe to contribute to the ongoing projects happening in AlUla.
He also spoke about what the future of tourism would could like and how Saudi Arabia – in particular AlUla – was preparing to deal with it.
“At RCU, we understand the need for the hospitality industry to be adaptive. People will continue to travel but will seek deeper, more transformative tourism options. We need to adapt to sustain growth. We draw strength from our previous experiences and achievements. We are betting on a strong recovery for the industry, while mindful of the possible new drivers that will shape its foundation,” he said.
He also called for a global show of unity, encouraging others in the industry to band together during this critical time.
“Now is the time to lower barriers to partnership, to fuel innovation and to travel on this journey together,” he said.
In light of the current situation, access to the event was made free, with a donation option available to anyone who wished to contribute.