The Ascott Limited (Ascott) recently released a report indicating a significant change in the dynamics of guest profiles in Saudi Arabia.
As the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy progresses, there has been a notable shift in the country’s hospitality industry, with the results deemed highly positive.
This is due to the swift introduction of various initiatives from the infamous ban on women driving, to the introduction of cinemas, concerts with mixed gender admission and major events such as the Formula E, held last week in Riyadh.
Regional general manager – MEA and Turkey, Ascott, Vincent Miccolis elucidated: “Our guest profiles are changing in line with the changing dynamics of the country. We have seen a spike in female guests of seven per cent from 2017, influenced by guests travelling for both work and leisure.”
Female guests have increased considerably this year, as properties across Jeddah witnessed a nine per cent growth on average, whilst Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh experienced a growth rate of five per cent.
“This means that there is an opportunity for the serviced residence industry to tap in to the growing number of female travellers and provide tailored services specifically for women,” explained Miccolis.
Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh comprises a women’s only leisure floor, consisting of an outdoor pool and deck, gymnasium, lounge, children’s playroom and day spa. The property is receiving positive feedback from female business travellers about the facilities.
Ascott has reported a decrease of 10 per cent in expat families within the KSA, attributed to the introduction of expat levies on dependents. Family occupants taking two and three-bedroom apartments have moved to single occupants in a one-bedroom apartment.
Miccolis said: “If the announcement made last week on Bloomberg regarding a review of the expat levies being restructured comes to fruition, it will provide a positive outcome for our industry.”
Moving on, international guests have maintained a consistent average over the last two years of 25 per cent across the Kingdom, however Jeddah and Riyadh are on opposite scales. 55 per cent of Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh’s guests are international, marking a growth of 15 per cent from 2017. Whilst the four properties in Jeddah have 15 per cent international guests, this is a decline of 10 per cent from 2017.
“With these changing dynamics of our guests in the Kingdom, a key focus is customer service training, with the goal of exceeding guest expectations. This year posed a credible 92 per cent customer satisfaction score, a testament to the staff in the region,” Miccolis concluded.