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Hotel Owners Conference, London (10.17)


Hotel Owners Conference, London (10.17)

Philip attended 2017 Hotel Owners Conference in London, hosted by CMS, Lloyds Bank and BDO. His "takeaway nuggets" are listed below:

  • Rhys, the economist, believes the new normal is low GDP growth levels, circa 1%-1.5% per annum. The Brexit situation has resulted in falling levels of investment, but exports in some sectors have increased due to low GBP (especially within hotels, where any foreign national staying overnight is an export sale).
  • Consumer spend is falling (high inflation and low wage growth) and yet the labour market is tight (with unemployment around 4%) and getting tighter with the prospect of Brexit. As a result, wage inflation is expected to pick up (a concern for people-heavy industries such as hotels?).
  • GBP versus other currencies is expected to remain stable and the base rate will remain below the level of inflation for the foreseeable future.
  • Tom, the lawyer, frightened the audience with his warnings over GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The regulation goes live in May 2018 and before that date all hotel HMAs should be amended to meet GDPR requirements, not just the new ones, but all the old, existing ones too! Much work for legal eagles. The fines for breaching GDPR are high and the requirements much more stringent, so not a subject to be ignored.
  • Tony and Liam, the bankers, presented a new initiative hosted by Lloyds, in the form of an internet portal to help hoteliers source and compare international suppliers. They demonstrated the portal by searching for 'toilet linen', which is banker speak for 'towels'.
  • Carmen, guru, gave some useful insights into how we use technology in the hotel-sphere. When making a hotel booking, the average person visits 18 different websites over eight different sessions on multiple devices (for a single booking!).
  • In 2017, 42% of the world's population is 'connected', a third of hotel bookings are made via the internet, and the average person has 5.3 devices. By 2020, around 80% of the world will be connected and the average person will have 6.8 devices (time to buy that larger handbag).
  • undertakes 1,000 experiments on the internet every day. How can a hotel company ever hope to compete? Embrace the new world, don't fight it.
  • Mark, the accountant, identified new trends in the world of F&B: (i) call it R&B, not F&B; (ii) the number of 'flexatarian' diners is growing; (iii) informality is in; (iv) eating out visits is in decline; (v) 80% of R&B outlets are independent; (vi) lunch is the busiest eat-out period of the day; (vii) drinking volumes are down (27% of Millennials are T-total), but value of drink sales is up - 'premiumisation'.
  • David, the lawyer, moderated a panel of R&B in hotels and the panellists (Laura, Andy, Jonathan) provided useful insights. Less is more - do 10 dishes really well rather than 20-30 dishes moderately.
  • Celebrity chefs have matured over time and are more understanding of expectations within hotel operations. When choosing a celeb chef, look for those with a strong social media following, who are keen story tellers and engage with Instagram.
  • Hoteliers need to think more like retailers when it comes to R&B: eliminate loss making items quickly, respond to trends and change regularly (imagine Zara in the food world).
  • Successful outlets are fluid and engage and attract local communities. For example, consider multiple concepts within a given space, or for a single space morph it into different themes depending on the time of day and local events.
  • The best-selling dishes within a major hotel operator's UK hotels are: burgers, fish & chips, and chicken tikka masala.
  • In a Big Brother, eerie kind of way, one operator looks into the background of each hotel guest due to arrive on any given day and uses their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles to pitch different R&B experiences.

This is indeed a time of entirely new new-normals.

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