The demand for hotels in the Middle East and North Africa is booming and it is only set to continue as demand from travellers increases. Hoteliers want to concentrate on providing the best stay possible and not have to worry about the technology behind operations. This is where Cisco steps in. EMW is working with Cisco to provide a Software-as-a-Service (MEASAAS.com still under construction), powered by Cisco’s Broadwork, hosted by EMW in the UAE for the first time. Wael Abdulal, Collaboration Sales Lead for Service Providers MEA, at Cisco explains how the SaaS helps hotels cut costs and solve challenges within hospitality.
Tell me more about your Software-as-a-Service. What makes it unique?
Cisco has been in the SaaS business since the Webex acquisition in 2007. We have been enhancing our platform and services and added calling, messaging, events, Contact Centre and recently Communications Platform. Over the last few years, we built and continue to enhance a solid platform that cater for all these capabilities – the terminology that’s used in the market is UCaaS, CCaaS, CPaaS – these are all part of the Cisco Webex portfolio.
The customer can choose any of those services from our partners, who are skilled and trained to deliver these capabilities. One partner can deliver integrated UCaaS with CCaaS and enhance with CPaaS. In the past, they were separate, less integrated and our customers had to deal with multiple vendors and system integrators. We’re coming from the on-prem world and now moving to the SaaS and the cloud world. While Cisco is still committed to the on-prem business, it is clear that the future is in the cloud, subscription and consumption based models. With a click of a mouse, you can subscribe to services and this is something very appealing for customers.
How will this service help hotels cut costs?
In hotels, you’ve got several systems that need to be implemented for the hotel to operate. You’ve got telephony everywhere, wireless telephony for staff, telephony management system TMS, property management system PMS and other applications. Every time you build a hotel, you need to build all these services and this is costly and time-consuming.
Then you need to consider a refresh, you need to worry about integration. This is an operational nightmare for the hotelier but now they can simply subscribe for such services and pay for what they use – this is the power of SaaS.
We’ve been working with lots of hotels around this to help them reduce their operational costs and to manage their total cost of ownership. A hotel chain with a good number of properties in a country have high operational cost. From IT and a communications perspective, we are able to make them look like one hotel because they can share resources, infrastructure, subscriptions and this consequently reduces overhead and operational cost.
How does it help the hospitality industry deal with seasonal recruitment?
The hospitality industry often experiences fluctuations in demand. Our platform helps address this challenge as we provide the tools and communications infrastructure for hotels to share resources across the chain. The tools can help with training and cross-training, recruitment and communication.
This offering is the first-of-its-kind in MEA. Which business challenges does it address?
We have several global partners and service providers offering Communications SaaS in the hotel industry and we are looking at hundreds of thousands rooms being served by our partners.
EMW is a well experienced partner with 20 years in the hotel industry and they already built this service in the UAE to serve the MEA region. Since our platform is certified and used by many hotel chains in Europe and US, we partnered with EMW to bring this service to their customers as well as the wider MEA region. For hotels to build IT in their data centre is becoming a huge challenge, so after experiencing and using the SaaS model, they simply can’t go back to the old on-prem model.
They can focus on selling their services, which in the hotel business is selling more rooms and more food and beverages – this is their core business. Technology is becoming more sophisticated, but with sophistication, you get a good level of complication. We relieve them from all these complications.
How do you see the hospitality industry developing over the next few years?
The tourism industry is booming and occupancy rates are high around the year. Prices are indication for the demand and supply and if I take UAE for example, prices are higher than average during summertime and this gives you a good indication where we are heading – more demand.
Saudi Arabia – we can talk for hours about what’s happening in Saudi Arabia when it comes to tourism. Saudi is a major business destination but it is also becoming a major tourist destination. Simply look at the investment in every part of the kingdom – not just the north in the Red Sea – and you will know that we are heading towards a major tourism industry boom.
In Middle East and North Africa, we’re seeing a huge boom in this business. This is why we’re bringing the service to the Middle East.
As an experienced sales professional, how have businesses’ demands changed in the last few years?
Pre-COVID things were looking very good. Now, things are looking better and for the first time, we are seeing new chains coming to the Middle East and Africa.
EMW’s investment in building the service in the region is a testimony for the demand and this is the reason we encouraged and supported this initiative. I am looking forward to seeing expansion in other countries and regions. We always look for ways to expand and penetrate new markets, I truly believe hospitality is the right one in MEA.
How can companies streamline their IT operations?
Go SaaS instead of building those applications on-prem. You are still going to have core applications that need to sit in the hotel, focus on those. Applications and services which you can move to cloud, release them, because this is how we’re able to help them streamline operations and let your IT resources focus on more complex tasks.Click below to share this article