The AHC 2021: Key takeaways from The Annual Hotel Conference

AHC 2021 Vision Stage (Photos: © Richard Frost)

In an exclusive report, we’ve compiled the key insights shared in Manchester, which include contributions from Marriott International, Accor, IHG, Goddard Littlefair and Gary Neville.

Leading lights from Europe’s hotel industry gathered in Manchester for two days of debate and invaluable networking opportunities.

change for good

Hundreds of hoteliers, owners, investors, developers, operators, designers and suppliers gathered at the Manchester Central conference complex in the heart of one of the UK’s largest cities on 22-23 November 2021 to discuss the big issues facing hospitality. Organized by Questex, the program filled with keynotes, panel discussions and round tables has been complemented by impressive hosting space from the likes of Marriott International, Accor, IHG, Radisson Hotel Group, Choice Hotels EMEA, Yotel and Interstate Hotels & Resorts – with plenty of opportunities to tour the city’s hotels and network With some drinks afterwards.

Here are some of the key points from this year’s programme, which was centered around the theme of “Change for Good”.

Hotels should improve working conditions

“Hospitality staff have been mistreated for too long – it’s time to reset” – Gary Neville, Director and Co-Owner of GG Hospitality, on how to dramatically improve working conditions in hospitality

“We have to reset post-pandemic to the realities of 2021 – people want a better work-life balance” – Gary Neville, director and co-owner of GG Hospitality, on how employee expectations are changing

“We need to make our industry attractive again to the younger generation” – Demetris Manikis, President EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, on how a green environment can help hotels attract young workers motivated to tackle climate change

“I take a look at all the labor shortage issues we have and I think we have to make our industry more attractive to work in” — David Kellett, Senior Director, Hotel Transactions, Invesco Real Estate, on how hotels should attract new workers to the industry

Guests are increasingly demanding sustainability

“What we are clearly seeing in the luxury segment is that customers are becoming more aware” – Satya Anand, Head of EMEA at Marriott International, on how luxury travelers are becoming more interested in sustainability

“We have to win the hearts and minds of future guests” – Karen Sheppard, Senior Vice President and General Manager Europe at IHG, on how hotels are embracing sustainable practices in order to attract increasingly green travelers

“There are a lot of credible studies now showing that customers are willing to pay more for sustainable and environmental projects, and that wasn’t the case a few years ago” – Daniel Johansson, Director of Development and Acquisition at Cheval Collection, in How hotels can achieve higher room rates by Adopt environmentally friendly practices

Hotels are working hard to cut emissions

“Cop26 has changed the rules of goal and focused minds on ESG [environmental, social and governance]— Karen Sheppard, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Europe at IHG, on how the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow boosted hotels’ need to cut carbon emissions

“The best we can do today will not be the best we can do tomorrow, so we need to be humble enough to keep learning” – Karen Sheppard, Senior Vice President and General Manager Europe at IHG, on how the hotel sector must continually adapt to the evolution of Our understanding of the climate crisis

The hotel market is developing rapidly

“You will see the consolidation of third party operators because a lot of them are very small. Over time the UK will start to look more like the US” – David Kellett, Senior Manager, Hotel Transactions, Invesco Real Estate, on how UK hotel operators will achieve Increasingly, economies of scale are enjoyed by their US counterparts

“The franchise model works well because you need global systems, loyalty programs and relationships with online travel agencies [online travel agents]Rustam Vickers, Head of Development, Choice Hotels EMEA, talks about how franchising an established brand looks increasingly attractive to many hotel owners.

Hotel owners and brands must work together

“Not one side against the other, we work together towards a common goal” – Philip Lassmann, Vice President, Development, Northern Europe, Accor, on the importance of true collaboration between hotel owners and brands

Hotel interiors should reflect changing market conditions

“If you design something overly modern, it will quickly be dated and uprooted in five years, which is not sustainable.” — Martin Goddard, Co-Founder and Director, Goddard Littlefair, on how sustainable hotel design means long-term thinking

“Even in five-star projects, there is not the same budget size as it was 20 years ago” – Martin Goddard, co-founder and director of Goddard Littlefair, on how much less is being spent on hotel interiors than before

Hospitality must stand together

“If we are going to get more support from government we all need to contribute, we can’t leave trade unions to do all the heavy lifting” – Kate Nichols, CEO of UK Hospitality, on how everyone in the hospitality business needs to put pressure on Government to take sector concerns seriously

“I had a manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] Which has been drawing to us every day the importance of hard work, but always amazes me how much work people do in hospitality” — Gary Neville, Director and Co-Owner of GG Hospitality, on how the industry is doing more to learn about the extraordinary dedication shown by its workers

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