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GRIF Saudi Sparks Innovation and Collaboration at Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) 2024

GRIF Saudi Sparks Innovation and Collaboration at Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) 2024

Friday, May 10, 2024/ Editor -  


Home >> Entertainment

The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) Saudi Sparks Innovation and Collaboration at Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) 2024

The renowned annual gathering of F&B professionals, which recently took over the Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah in Riyadh on April 29th, was a resounding success, with several influential figures giving their incredible insights into the future of the industry

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (09 May 2024): The recent Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh was another great success, playing host to a myriad of pivotal moments including several insightful panel discussions as part of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) Saudi. GRIF has been a cornerstone event focusing on the forefront of trends and innovations within the hospitality industry since its creation. Held on April 29th, at the Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, Riyadh, GRIF Saudi brought together industry leaders, investors, and innovators to explore strategic insights into the restaurant sector, investment opportunities, and emerging technologies enhancing guest experiences.

The GRIF brand is a successful forum for the restaurant investment industry globally, fostering knowledge, connections, and inspiration. As well as this, it is a platform that highlights opportunities for creating unique Saudi luxury experiences, destinations, and brands that cater to both local tastes and global standards. The sessions that took place at this year’s edition of FHS aimed to delve into key facets of the industry, ranging from the adoption of cutting-edge technologies to the pursuit of sustainable practices without compromising guest satisfaction.

The Emergence of Saudi Arabia’s Luxury Sector

Saudi Arabia, as an emerging hub for luxury, is driven by a growing luxury consumer base with new expectations for innovation, culture, and hospitality, making it the perfect place to host the most recent edition of GRIF. According to a recent report by The Future Laboratory, a futuristic consultancy that was among FHS’s notable participants, the increasing participation of women in the workforce is diversifying the luxury market, particularly in areas previously dominated by male consumers while there is also now a significant focus on Millennial and Gen Z consumers who prefer localised luxury goods and support home-grown brands and designers.

The nation is witnessing a growing trend towards health and wellness, with Saudi Arabia quickly becoming a top destination for wellness tourism. The Kingdom is also experiencing heavy investment in local brands, which are helping to define the luxury market, ensuring they resonate globally while maintaining a distinct cultural identity. 

Insightful Case Studies Delving into the Kingdom’s Burgeoning F&B and Hospitality Sectors

The summit featured a wide range of insightful presentations showcasing how Riyadh and the Kingdom as a whole are transforming. Gustavo de Hostos, Founder & Managing Partner at Forsite Creative, showcased in his case study how the number of restaurants in Riyadh has increased by 400%, highlighting a remarkable 300% increase in the number of venues in the highest segment.

Delving deeper into the hospitality dynamics of Saudi Arabia, Kathrin Cockhill, Commercial Director at HotStats, presented a comprehensive report shedding light on the increased revenues across various sectors. The report showcased that Total Revenue Per Room Available and F&B Revenues have increased by 77% and 29%, respectively, when compared to data from 2019.

Notable Speakers Ignite Dialogue and Insight

Key discussions this year revolved around innovations in hospitality, sustainability practices, investment opportunities, and strategies for post-pandemic recovery. These topics not only reflect the current state of the industry but also offer valuable insights into its future trajectory, both locally in Saudi Arabia and on a global scale. Throughout its run, GRIF further helped quash some common myths and misconceptions about the Saudi luxury consumer, providing a more nuanced understanding of their preferences for personalised and technologically integrated products.

During the conference, many notable speakers took to the stage, engaging in discussions on a range of topics that will have a lasting impact on the industry. Amongst other things, the forum explored the intersection of traditional media and social impact, highlighted how data can steer restaurant investors towards making savvy decisions, and shed light on the critical role of F&B in enhancing the bottom line for hotel owners and investors.

Mohammed Jawa, Founder & Chairman of MJS Holding, captivated the audience with an insightful discussion with Mohammed Islam, Host & Founder of The Mo Show Podcast, on the future of Saudi Arabia's restaurant market. Drawing from his two decades of experience and leadership, Jawa highlighted the market’s diversification and outlined a compelling long-term vision aligned with Saudi Arabia's ambitious goals for 2030. As a trailblazer in attracting international luxury and lifestyle restaurants to the kingdom, Jawa is pioneering a new era in the F&B market, positioning Saudi Arabia as a global leader in hospitality and ensuring the kingdom's prominence in the world stage.

Georgie Woollams, Founder & Managing Director of Katch International, also offered a dynamic perspective on the digital evolution in F&B and hospitality. With a wealth of experience in experiential PR and communications, Woollams explored leveraging influencer and gaming trends to drive industry growth over the next five years.

Both Jasniya Badsha, Co-Founder of RiyadhConnect, and Oli Thomas, Founder of Hatchin joined Georgie on stage. Badsha boasts extensive expertise in connecting hospitality with social media success through RiyadhConnect, with an impressive social media reach of over 30 million, while Thomas is a seasoned media executive and has a wealth of experience in creating digital experiences for youth and family audiences. Together, they discussed building digital strategies to engage with younger demographics, offering a holistic perspective on the digital evolution shaping the future of F&B and hospitality.

Later in the day, Emma Banks, VP of F&B Strategy & Development for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Hilton, took centre stage to provide real-world examples showcasing how sustainability can be a commercial success. With a focus on tangible results and measurable impact, Banks highlighted the intersection of environmental responsibility and profitability within the F&B sector, offering concrete evidence that sustainable practices not only benefit the planet but can also contribute to financial prosperity. In her presentation, Banks noted that 6 of its hotels in Saudi Arabia recorded an average 6% increase in topline revenue and a 5% increase in per-head spending in 2023.

The conference also included a diverse group of international leaders, including Kurt Zdesar, Owner & Founder at Chocco Matte, Sam Bakhshandehpour, President and Board Member at José Andrés Group, and [jp1] Marcello Distefano, Managing Director at San Carlo Group. Their presence added a global perspective to the discussions, showcasing how innovations and trends in the F&B and hospitality industries are shaping up on an international scale.

Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, Co-Founder of Global Restaurant Investment Forum and Partner at THINK Hospitality remarked, “GRIF Saudi at the Future Hospitality Summit epitomises the spirit of innovation and collaboration driving the F&B industry forward. It’s inspiring to see such a diverse range of thought leaders coming together to shape the future of hospitality and we are already looking forward to the next edition with bated breath.”

GRIF Saudi at FHS 2024 marks another milestone in the ongoing progression of the hospitality sector. With a firm commitment to advancement, innovation, and sustainability, the event sets the stage for continued collaboration and growth within the F&B industry, both in Saudi Arabia and beyond. As the industry continuously navigates through unprecedented challenges and opportunities, GRIF remains a steadfast symbol of hope, guiding stakeholders towards a brighter, more sustainable future.


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