Leading the Way – AHC 2022 Previews • Hotel Designs
With so many unprecedented national and global events both impacting the hospitality industry and creating new opportunities, it could be said that the hospitality industry is at a pivotal moment. Unsurprisingly, the economy, and how events are shaping the industry now and in the future, was a central topic on the conference agenda.
Opening of the AHC 2022 during the main session The economic and trade outlook: what is the outlook amid new uncertainty David Smith, economics editor at the Sunday Times, compared a series of events – the global financial crash, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – to the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”. . Despite the obvious challenges facing the industry, including labor shortages, supply chain difficulties and central bank policy tightening, Smith stressed that there are opportunities for the industry. hospitality in the coming year.
The £200billion ‘war chest’ of savings accumulated by consumers during the pandemic had yet to be spent, and pent-up demand for travel and experiences could see much directed towards hospitality . “People have money to spend if they can be persuaded,” Smith said.
There were other glimmers of positivity found in the session The Power of Insight: Consumer Confidence and the Wall Street Perspective where Sam Ward, head of UK hotels at PwC, noted that the current situation was not as dire as other “black swan events” and noted clear opportunities for UK hotels as research showed that British consumers planned fewer trips abroad and instead planned holidays closer to home.
Simon Calder, travel correspondent for The Independent, and Justin Reid of TripAdvisor echoed this in Change is Happening: Deciphering High-Impact Trends to Create Competitive Advantage. “Pent-up demand is there in spades,” Calder said. “At the end of it all, they are desperate to make up for the lost trip.”
Hotel executives Kenneth Macpherson, CEO, EMEAA, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Radisson Hotel Group CEO Frederico J Gonzalez shared their insights and showed how they led their teams and businesses through one of the most difficult and most changing in recent history. When asked how he’s led over the past three years, Macpherson said “with reputation, with purpose and overcoming challenges.”
“First, always start with reputation,” Macpherson continued. “Trust is extremely important for sustainable growth. You need to keep your reputation intact, think about guests, health and safety, owners, your role in the industry, collaborative growth and people. Second, lead with purpose. Tell your staff why it’s important – communicate it. And third, constantly ask yourself “how can we improve?” » Be stronger, collaborate better, be more efficient and build partnerships.
Tips for navigating change were also shared in Succeed when nothing is normal. “Always challenge the status quo, so that when you have to do it, you know how to do it,” said Phil Andreopoulous, chief operating officer, owner and franchise services at Marriott International. Continuing this line of thinking, Dmitris Manikis, President EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, suggested cutting out the noise from the outside and focusing on what’s happening within an organization. “Control the controllable elements,” Manikis said. “Focus on the things you can control.”
Leadership was also on the agenda when it came to addressing How the Hospitality Industry Can Win the Talent Challenge, where the panel of industry leaders from Accor, Aimbridge and GIG discussed the importance of changing the narrative around hospitality to encourage young people to enter the industry and then guide them to success once they have started their journey. “Combine talent with a good mentor,” said Ronan McGovern, vice president of operations at Accor. “Every experience is a learning experience. GMs who have a natural talent for developing their teams usually don’t have recruiting problems.
Those looking for sustainable economic, ESG solutions were guided through sessions throughout the two days. Robert Godwin, Managing Director of the Lamington Group, explained why his company was aiming for net zero by Zero is Zero: Charting the Path to a Net-Zero Whole Life and describes how others might begin their journey by “avoiding, reducing, and compensating.” Lamington Group distributed an oak sapling to all attendees to plant in their drive towards net zero.
In The sustainability conundrum: accreditation, measurement and reportingModerated by Energy & Environment Alliance CEO, Ufi Ibrahim, the general message was that while standards are currently being set by the government with regards to international environmental standards for developments, there is still much to be done in operations current.
“E is just part of ESG and carbon is just part of E – it’s been talked about a lot, but there’s a lot of stuff in S and G to talk about. focus,” said Susan Bland, Executive Director. from RBH Management. “The environmental focus is newer to the conversation, but it has many parts that are easy to understand and already measurable.”
While the challenges were highlighted, there was an overwhelming sense of positivity from panelists and speakers. In Crunching the Numbers: key demand, revenue and cost trends to watch in the times aheadSTR’s Thomas Emmanuel said things were “unabashedly positive”, adding “when you look at the data, things are looking good”.
The opportunities offered by public-private partnerships have been explored in How to bridge the sustainability gap in hotel development. Andy Townsend of Legacy Hotels said many local authorities wanted to develop hotels for the future but still needed advice on how to get it right. “For every local authority, it’s a journey of discovery,” Townsend said. “The real selling point is the future economic benefits. This is what ultimately attracts investment.
The same topic continued in Upgrading: maximizing the social and economic impact of the hotel sector. Cardiff Council’s Jon Day stressed that the public-private partnership had to be strong for it to work, but there were clear economic and social benefits for hotels and a local area when it was. Speaking at the same session, Andy Jansons, Managing Director of Jansons Property, added: “Two years of lost tourism and events due to Covid-19 have grown a huge amount of pent-up demand which presents an opportunity favorable investment. And with inward investment spurred by hotel developments, urban regeneration projects and economic rebalancing in the UK will reap the benefits, both socially and economically.
That sentiment was echoed in the final interview with Steve Morgan CBE, founder of home-builder Redrow, owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club and former major shareholder in De Vere Group. While discussing the opportunities he had been given – and taken – he spoke about the impact of the pandemic on the Carden Park Hotel. While others quit, Morgan chose to invest millions in the business. “Part of my philosophy in life is that when everyone is retreating, go on the attack!” he said.
Practical advice on a range of topics, including technology and staffing, was also provided in short sessions in The AHC Fringe. Held during coffee and lunch breaks over the two days, the ten-minute sessions by industry experts from organizations such as Springboard, Amazon, Hotel Cloud and Duetto offered insights and talking points. There were also plenty of networking opportunities over the two days with events at Society, YOTEL and Hotel Brooklyn offering delegates the chance to continue discussions and build new relationships.
Main image credit: AHC