08:30 – 09:20

MEA MARKET UPDATE: what’s happening and what’s driving it?

STR are the global hotel performance data people. They have the barometer on how markets are doing at the global level right down to neighbourhoods within cities.


The hotel project landscape in the Middle East and Africa has changed beyond recognition in the last decade, with unprecedented development. There have been consistent regional hotspots but even the most resilient investors are subject to the pressures of global financial shifts and other factors which ultimately control the timing and nature of the hotel projects you need to know about. The right regional insight is critical for developers, architects, hoteliers and manufacturers alike as they decide how to best direct their regional strategies.


Philip is uniquely placed to provide this understanding. Having spent two decades in hospitality at a senior level before joining STR, he understands that our audience wants more than just figures. Expect a compelling session that reveals the true factors influencing and shaping the projects in the region so you know exactly where to invest in the quest for new business…


14:50 – 15:50

Keynote Seminar: Setting the Bar

Founding LW Design in 1999 has seen Jesper Godsk involved in some of the region’s most iconic hotels. In Dubai alone are the Grosvenor House, Hyatt Regency, JW Marriott Marquis and Le Royal Merdien Beach Resort and Spa, a winner at the recent AHEAD MEA awards. There are countless more across the broader region for brands such as Fairmont, Raffles and Rotana. The success of these projects has fostered trust with developers and owners and seen LW Design involved in ground breaking projects such as the Media One and Vida Hotels. Then there’s the literally hundreds of restaurants and bars they have created… This multi-disciplinary practice offering interior design, architecture, engineering and landscaping knows few limits. Hear from Jesper in conversation with seminar programmer and host Guy Dittrich as he recalls the development of the Middle East hotel-scape and looks to the future of hospitality design.


08:30 – 09:30

The Creative Brain – and how to use it

Caroline Williams is a science journalist and editor who is both a regular contributor to and a consultant for New Scientist magazine. She is also the author of Override: My quest to go beyond brain training and take control of my mind (Scribe, 2017). Override came about after Caroline’s many years of reporting on the science of neuroplasticity (the idea that the brain retains an ability to rewire itself throughout our whole lives). No-one seemed to know how to use this information to get the best out of our brains. Determined to find out, Caroline spent over a year travelling around the laboratories of top neuroscientists, offering herself as a guinea pig in scientific studies and challenging scientists to make real-world changes to her perfectly functioning, yet imperfect brain!

As part of this brain-boosting mission, Caroline headed to Lawrence, Kansas, where a team is studying how the brain comes up with creative ideas. Joining in with their experiments she submitted herself to be brain-scanned and then stimulated with pulses of electricity in a bid to see if it helped the ideas to flow. What she found may come as a relief: you don’t need to be scanned or zapped to get into the creative zone. You just need to know how to get into the right state of mind to let creativity flourish. In this talk, Caroline Williams explains what happens in our brains when we combine existing ideas to create something entirely new. She will also share some research-based tips from her journey on how to make it happen more often. Finally, she will give us a glimpse of the future and how technology may provide shortcuts to moments of creative insight. No zapping required.


13:05 – 14:05

Panel Discussion: Sharing Spaces – the cross-pollination of design amongst sectors

When society’s needs change, Designers need to tune in to the right cues or get left behind. Demographics might provide some handy reference data but when the real drivers of this change are attitudes and aspirations over statistics, Designers need to adopt a more behavioural, psychographic approach.

Hospitality and Residential Design share very similar demands but when other sectors seek to share space, another level of flexibility and approachability is required. Co-working is having an increasingly strong influence on the multi-use of space in offices, hotels and elsewhere. Similarly, education is tending towards an open learning environment. Cultural institutions are no longer limiting themselves to stand-alone museum edifices. Hospitals and healthcare are taking their cues from residential living to improve patient care. The rise of online shopping sees retail stores of the bricks and mortar sort now having to offer experiential journeys that mix in ideas of art, education and food and beverage to support their core aim.

We explore the journey towards more experiential design in the company of hotel design specialists and those with broader portfolios. Hear about how other sectors are impacting and informing their approaches and what those sectors are learning from hospitality design.