During 2020, the Hospitality and Travel industry, among other business sadly affected, was delivered a knockout punch like no other in history. Even industry giants who were previously considered untouchable felt the pain, and massive restructures were inevitable across the industry.
Technology adoption had been important for many years, but the global pandemic only accelerated the inevitable and pushed it to the forefront of business management. Suddenly, businesses were being forced to adapt new touchless technologies, add new revenue streams and monitoring systems. They had to acquire new tech hardware in their business to have a cleaner and safer environment not only for their customers and guests, but also their employees. Remote working and distributed teams used to be the exception, but is now almost business as usual for many.
When our team came together in early 2021, we knew the selection and sales process of technology had to be improved. We wanted to see technology adoption and digital transformation improve significantly in a region which until today has proven to be resilient to the impact of the pandemic. The development pipeline in the region is strong, and the Middle East and Africa region still has many years of strong growth ahead of it. Africa’s workforce is projected to grow to 1 billion and be the largest in the world by 2040.
Some key questions became apparent:
How do you embrace technology to accelerate revenue and create value?
How does your business manage more with less with the help of technology in an ever-changing marketplace?
The pain points in the industry make this challenging, as the market is very fragmented both from a buyer and vendor point of view. Resources on both sides are limited, and the expertise regarding technology investment is usually lower or lacking at both an independent, and national brand, level.
High turnover in the industry often means valuable experience of implementing appropriate tech solutions is easily eroded, and there are limited resources and time for discovering new ones. As a result, many business and their decision makers become stuck in a “comfort zone” of technology usage, tending to stick with older solutions that may no longer be fit for purpose, or are limiting their scope for growth in a highly competitive market.
Even when businesses do embrace new technology, they still face a number of challenges which a difficult to overcome without expert insight. In terms of adopting new technology, or enhancing the existing technology stack of a business, there is a different skillset required between initiators and operators, and this is often neglected. This leads to under utilization of the investment made, or simply a wrong deployment.
The decision-making processes are very often complex, involving owners, asset managers and other key decision makers in hospitality. In the travel industry, the decision makers very often are founders or veterans of their businesses who do not come from a technology background.
Technology vendors also face their own unique set of challenges, of course:
How can they reach the right audience?
How can they be sure they are dealing with the right decision makers, when so many are based remotely?
Leading brands in the industry are usually approached by every technology vendor going, all of which are trying to achieve their goals with just one or two individuals across the entire region. Travel budgets have been slashed, so how do you widen your network to make your return on efforts count?
Gartner Research estimates that that 80% of B2B purchasing will happen on digital marketplaces by 2025, and Mckinsey states that 82% of B2B decision makers now feel the new selling models are as effective as, or more effective, than previous models. That was 50% at the start of 2020. Self-service research and comparison of B2B sales doubled on digital channels in 2021 compared to 2020.
With all this in mind, we wanted to create a definitive go-to platform for the Hospitality and Travel industry in the Middle East and Africa to connect with global tech providers who support digital transformation, and improve the selections and sales process for adopters. Our initial focus is on commercial solutions, followed by back of house technology, in order to provide a 360° marketplace for anything tech related which serves the needs of the industry in the Middle East and Africa.
However, in order to provide an objective, high-quality service, we want to ensure that we maintain an unbiased and non-incentivized position in the industry. We want to help “untangle the mess” for potential buyers of technology, empowering companies to create their own great success stories as operators of both Hospitality and Travel businesses.
ExploreTECH is the realization of that vision - a new digital marketplace for the Middle East and Africa Hospitality and Travel industry. A place where tech providers can boost audience engagement and lead generation, and where industry professionals have one go-to source to find and compare the tech solutions that they need, and receive subject matter expert advice to improve their businesses.
ExploreTECH is also the only platform of its kind to use both English and Arabic comprehensively throughout, and so reaches a wider audience than any other.
We look forward to welcoming you on this journey with us, exploring a new Blue Ocean Arena for Digital Transformation.
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