Growth and responsibility: the challenges of a hotel giant

President of Hilton for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Jochem-Jan Sleiffer evokes for euronews, during an interview recorded in Dubai, the rapid growth in this region of the world, of his hotel group founded there 103 years old. Over the next five years, 90 new hotels will be added to the 179 he currently manages.

“It’s a very interesting market for us,” says Jochem-Jan Sleiffer. “It has been a growth engine over the past two years, it is a market where we see that we can build more hotels as these countries attract many visitors,” he points out.

An increased hotel offer in the Middle East

More than 60 of the new properties will be located in the Middle East where the United Arab Emirates is located, Hilton’s largest market in the region with 33 hotels currently in operation and 14 in the pipeline. For its part, Saudi Arabia, with 16 hotels in operation and 45 planned, is the regional market where the group’s growth is strongest.

This accelerated development will result for the group in an offer of 24,000 additional hotel rooms in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey in order to meet European demand in particular.

“The European clientele has always been important in these countries,” Explain Jochem-Jan Sleiffer. “These are customers from the UK, France, Italy and Germany, but after the pandemic, those from the Czech Republic and Switzerland have also increased,” he indicates.

“The Middle East market feeds the European market,” says Hilton’s top executive, “It’s important for us to have hotels in this region, also to familiarize people with the different brands we have. So when they go to Europe, they stay with us again,” he said.

Social and environmental concerns

Jochem-Jan Sleiffer will lead the expansion of his regional division at a time when the hospitality sector is increasingly concerned about its social and environmental impact with the directives ESG (Environmental social and governance), a set of standards by which companies are expected to adopt a policy in favor of sustainability and local people. For hotel groups, socially responsible investors now use ESG criteria to select potential investments.

Among the initiatives in which Hilton participates are: Evolvin’ Women which prepares unemployed women from disadvantaged backgrounds for careers in the hotel industry, but also SEDRA (Services for Educational Development, Research and Awareness), a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities find employment.

Reduce food waste

Sustainable development, one of the key themes of the recent Future Hospitality Summit, is also a priority for Hilton, which notably fights against food waste. Thanks to an artificial intelligence system called winnow which photographs, weighs and records the different types of food when they are thrown in the trash, the chefs of the group’s establishments have been able to control their waste with precision and reduce waste by adjusting food orders.

“95% of our hotels have achieved significant savings in food waste,” welcomes Jochem-Jan Sleiffer. “Food waste is one of the biggest problems we have in the world,” he believes before specifying: “In this region, we have reduced the number of meals by approximately 600,000. That’s a huge amount of less food waste,” he points out.

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Growth and responsibility: the challenges of a hotel giant

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