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Neil van der Veen, Principal at RMJM Dubai, was invited to attend a panel discussion on the hospitality industry this week. The event, hosted by HM Consul General, British Embassy Dubai, Mr Paul Fox, provided industry experts with the chance to discuss trends in tourism, hotel and hospitality sectors. The attendees consisted of industry professionals and a number of UK companies attempting to better understand the latest trends in the UAE.

Neil has spoken at a number of events in recent months (underlining his expertise in this subject) and this event was particularly keen to outline the growing sophistication of the industry and the shift from purely functional design to what he describes as ‘all three layers of design’. Neil explained that the layers of hotel design currently in-demand are: functionality and comfort, aesthetic and mood, and experience.

The various macro trends in design that have developed over recent years were then discussed. From the standard hotel chain, to the ‘rise of the local’, the individual boutique lifestyle brand, chain hotels copying lifestyle brands and experimental design. How these differ in terms of importance to guests can also be directly linked to the economy with statistics showing that clientele can become more selective during a downturn.

Focusing on design seemed to be one thing all of the panelists agreed on when it comes to attracting repeat customers. Doing this affordably will be key to the survival of many businesses in the UAE over the coming years. For more from the conference you can check out RMJM’s timeline and the MENA Department of International Trade timeline on Twitter.

RMJM’s Neil van der Veen┬áspeaking at the event