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HTNG Middle East Conference Session Descriptions

Seven Secrets to Future-Proofing in the Age of Intelligence
Tariq Qureishy, MAD Talks
We are living during the most extraordinary time ever in human history. The innovator's dilemma is how can we innovate today for our customers' needs of the future, which they don't even realise they have yet! We are required to even "change the way we think about change," to reinvent ourselves and our environment. Keynote speaker, Tariq Qureishy, CEO and Founder of MAD Talks and seasoned media professional with global organisations like Bloomberg, Dow Jones and The Times/Sunday Times, will take us on a fun and engaging journey into the future and share his practical secrets on future-proofing in these crazy and exciting times.

The Guest Journey Goes Digital 
     Bryan Steele, Jireh-Tek Limited (Moderator) 
     Amro Khoudeir, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts 
     Nancy Wolff, Jumeirah Group 
     Jeroen Wisse, AccorHotels

Guests' expectations are influenced by experiences in other areas of their lives. The bar for hotels is being raised by the likes of retailers such as Amazon and Apple. Closer to home, airlines are allowing passengers to change their seats, track their bags, order special meals, and watch movies and live TV on their mobile devices. In this session, Bryan Steele of Jireh-Tek Consultancy will provide a brief introduction to the topic followed by a panel of regional hoteliers who will share their companies' strategies to enable the digitization of the guest journey.

Ten Minute Win - Burj Al Arab Arrival Experience
Zalikha Al Bastaki, Jumeirah Group
The Burj Al Arab is a unique hotel with a unique challenge. It wants to encourage locals to use the hotel's outlets, but security mandates advanced booking and screening upon arrival. A customized app was developed to provide the booking capability as well as location awareness of the arriving guest. The security guards can watch your approach on their iPad and raise the gate for seamless entry.

Ten Minute Win - Mövenpick's Journey to Cloud 9
Kevin McCarthy, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts
Kevin McCarthy will share the highs and lows of Mövenpick's journey to deploy a cloud-based beta PMS to one of the most diverse and dynamic hotel chains in the world. From booming airport hotels in Europe to beach resorts in Bali and everything in between, Kevin will explain how he has navigated to over 30 hotels live in 18 months.

Hacking the Connected Hotel
     Ted Harrington, Independent Security Evaluators
This session, presented by the security researchers who organized the esteemed hacking concept IoT Village, analyzes the myriad security issues commonly afflicting connected devices, including those used in hospitality. Precise security studies allow these researchers to not only identify problems, but to provide solutions in the form of immediate, capable guidance for both hoteliers and vendors.

Current and Future HTNG Workgroups
Stephen Barratt, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
     Bryan Steele, Jireh-Tek Limited
Workgroups are the heart and soul of HTNG. This is where industry problems are addressed, best-practices are created, and new technologies are nurtured. This session will provide an update on the activities of active workgroups as well as new workgroups that are in the incubation stage. Greater involvement from our members in the Middle East is encouraged, so listen carefully and join a workgroup that interests you!

Don’t Get Angry, Get Approval!
     Fraser Hickox, The Conceptual Group (Moderator)
     René Beil, Beaufort Global Partners LLC
     Donald Bremner, Stirling Capital Management
     Stuart Etherington, Dubai Properties Group
     Harry Johnson, Omran
One of the most unpleasant and uncomfortable tasks of any hotel IT leader is to ask the owner for money to buy new or replace existing technology. We blame the asset manager for not understanding the importance of technology, and they blame us for asking for unnecessary things. This panel of asset managers will help the hotelier learn how to present their request in the right way and win approval from the long as the investment is justified.

Managing Change Before Change Manages You
     Colin Abercrombie, Abercrombie Training & Management Consultancy
As IT professionals, our jobs are all about change. We foist it on our users, and our business leaders foist it on us. More technology projects fail due to issues with human adoption than to the technology. Colin Abercrombie, consultant, speaker and trainer, will lead our audience through an interactive workshop to help us better understand the dynamics of change and how we can manage it more effectively.

Ten Minute Win - 'Uber' for Buggies
Zalikha Al Bastaki, Jumeirah Group
Jumeirah has recently gone live with the buggy mobile application which enables the hotel transportation department to manage their buggies from one single portal. Not only does this improve guest service, but it provides the data needed to optimize use of the buggies, schedule drivers and provide justification for additional buggies and drivers. Most importantly, this application enhances the guest experience and reminds them of all the unique services provided by Jumeirah while exploring their next visit options.

IT Leadership Panel
     Ted Horner, E. Horner & Associates Pty Ltd (Moderator)
     Samir Abi Frem, Rotana Hotels Management Corporation
     Floor Bleeker, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts
     Monika Nerger, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Top-level hotel IT executives will share how they see technology evolving in hotels in coming years. The panel will also discuss their biggest challenges, issues and concerns.