Bench Events chairman and founder of AHIC, Jonathan Worsley, explains the value of face-to-face interactions in an increasingly online world…
Take a moment to recall your recent business transactions. Whether you’ve signed a contract with a supplier, employed a new team member, agreed a corporate partnership, or invested in a new product for your hotel, chances are, before you signed on the dotted line, you had established a relationship with the respective partner.
Much of this relationship – specifically the trust it requires – may have been formed through phone calls, emails, online reviews and social media encounters, as is the nature of communications today. However, I’d hazard a guess that these would all have been supplementary to face-to-face meetings and for significant dealings, probably in addition to numerous lunches and dinners, discussions and negotiations.
In an era where we spend half of our time hiding behind screens, I believe that it is what happens in front of those screens that has the most impact on our businesses today. After all, can you ever imagine agreeing a contract or recruiting someone without knowing who you are doing business with – the face behind the website or CV?
In the hospitality industry, one of the largest transactions likely to take place revolves around the buying and selling of the hotel asset itself. In the Middle East, this is still a process that is traditionally driven by private companies, families and individuals, as opposed to the private equity and corporate investment that is commonplace elsewhere, such as in Europe and the US. This means that relationships are more important than ever.
That first introduction to a partner is critical and assuming a bond is struck, a relationship must be developed, nurtured and protected in the months and years to come. Whether the deal is for a seemingly straightforward sale or a partnership between land owner and developer, trust comes first.
This is a principle I respect and as such, I’ve long-admired this approach to business in the Middle East hotel industry. Hotels are prized assets that mean something to their owners; they’re not just another building.
I’ve been privileged through our platform, the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), to see the founding footsteps of partnerships during our events over the past 13 years. For our 14th event, therefore, I’m more committed than ever to contributing, in our small way, to the beginnings of these fledgling relationships.
We are, for the first time, building a purpose-built venue for AHIC 2018 that will be designed specifically to facilitate the networking, discussions, small meetings and private one-to-ones that our industry tells us they need.
Located in Ras Al Khaimah, thanks to our partner, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and our patron and host, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, AHIC 2018 will invite delegates to fully immerse themselves in the event and focus on knowledge, opportunities and critically, relationships.
We’re also proud to be supported again by our founding patron and co-host, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, whose continued support of the industry and AHIC has been critical to the region’s tourism growth. Our long-standing partnership is testament to the value of investing in relationships.
We may be largely living in an online world, but if you ask me, it is our offline rendezvous that are still the most powerful in securing today’s transactions. I’ll see you at AHIC.