GM Leaders Conference 2017


Wednesday 3 May, W Dubai Al Habtoor City


Hotel News Middle East is gearing up to host its 2017 edition of the GM Leaders Conference presented by Rikan, on Wednesday 3 May at W Dubai Al Habtoor City.

The event will bring together more than 150 of the Middle East’s top hotel GMs for a day of lively debates and discussions centered on the burning issues impacting the hotel industry this year and beyond.

One lucky general manager will take home a Cadillac XT5 for a limited time, to be presented by our Luxury Fleet Partner, Cadillac during the event.

The conference will feature expert sessions and panel debates, touching on topics such as the introduction of VAT and how this will impact the hotel industry; if and how the Dubai hospitality sector will continue to thrive post-Expo 2020; and the impact of mergers and acquisitions on the hospitality landscape in the region.

Some of the leading tourism figures, general managers and corporate hoteliers in the region will speak at the event.

These include Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM); Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group; and David Allan, cluster general manager, Radisson Blu Hotels Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views, among many more.

Sponsoring the event are Presenting Sponsor; Rikan, Platinum Sponsor, Du; Cadillac, Luxury Fleet Partner; The W Dubai Al Habtoor City, the Hotel of Choice; Lavazza; Eurocoffee; UPI; Electrolux; TSSC; Pulsar Foodstuff Trading and The Gourmet Olive Market.

Registration for the GM Leaders Conference is free of charge for hotel general managers and senior corporate hoteliers.


8.00: Registration and Networking

8.30: Welcome Address: Hotel News Middle East

8.35: Welcome Address: Rikan, GM Leaders Conference Presenting Sponsor

8.40: Welcome Address: Jason Harding, complex general manager at St Regis, W and Westin Hotel – Al Habtoor City

8.45: Expert Session: Global Megatrends and their impact on the Middle East’s travel and tourism industry
Dr. Martin Berlin, Deals Partner, PwC Middle East

9.10: Keynote Address: How will Dubai’s hospitality industry continue to prosper post-Expo 2020? 
Issam Kazim, CEO, DTCM

9.30: Panel One: Adapting to Changing Guest Demands
Guests are becoming more tech-savvy – doing everything online, from booking, to ordering food and providing feedback – while seeking out personalised service with a warm dose of humanity. Meanwhile, mobile-connected corporate and MICE travellers are demanding more creative and flexible entertainment options and facilities, and a rising demographic of health-focused consumers are seeking out the best wellness offers. How can hoteliers pair digital efficiency with human intelligence? How can they evolve their wellness offers and cater to the changing needs of MICE and corporate travellers?

David Wilson, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah 
Francis Desjardins, general manager, Fairmont Ajman
David Simon, hotel manager, The Palace Downtown 
Stephen Meredith, general manager, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay 
Patrick Antaki, complex general manager, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah and Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
Guzman Muela, general manager, Time Oaks Hotel & Suites

10.15: Expert session: A snapshot of regional hotel performance
Philip Wooller, area director – Middle East & Africa, STR 

10.35:  Coffee break

11.00: Panel Two: Battling with the OTAs
The battle between hoteliers and online travel agents (OTAs) will continue in 2017, with each side vying for its piece of the pie. The big hotel operators, such as Hilton and Marriott have invested in major direct booking campaigns, however they cannot turn their backs on the huge distribution power of the OTAs. Meanwhile, the OTAs continue to seek hotel chains’ lowest rates so they can offer customers the widest range of choices possible. How can hoteliers reduce their dependence on the OTAs and get better terms? What role does loyalty play?

Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group 
David Allan, cluster general manager, Radisson Blu Hotels Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views 
Alexander Schneider, general manager,  Nikki Beach Dubai
Richard Collins, general manager, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
Fredrik Reinisch, general manager, Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection Hotels 

Rabih Feghali, director, business development, Roya International  

11.45: Expert Session: How will the introduction of VAT impact the Middle East’s hotel industry?
Bruce Hamilton, Tax Director – Indirect Tax, Deloitte Middle East

12.05: Panel Three: Attracting New Markets
How can hoteliers ensure they are creating content and delivering experiences that resonate with the lifestyles of new target markets, such as millennials and Gen Z; the rising Chinese market and returning Russians; and a new wave of price-sensitive travellers, attracted to the region due to a growing number of low-cost flights and three- and four-star hotels?

Maria Tullberg, general manager, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek 
Stefan Viard, general manager,  Melia Hotels international 
Slim Zaiane, general manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall Of The Emirates
Nila Pendarovski, general manager, Rove Downtown Dubai 
Naim Maadad, CEO, Gates Hospitality 

12.50: Expert Session: Gds…The Misunderstood revenue Channel
Saahil Mehta, Man with The Plan, ResNet World

13.05: Lunch sponsored by ResNet World

14.30: Close


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