On Monday 28 January, 475 hotel professionals arrived at Intercontinental London – The O2 for the Hotel General Managers’ Conference 2019. Reflection to enable positive change, discovering the potential in people and being courageous enough to strive for your goals were the main topics across the two-day event, aptly titled ‘Now Is The Time To…’.
Opening the conference, Master Innholders Chairman Danny Pecorelli FIH MI, said: “Never has there been such time for change in our industry. Our customers and our workforce are changing and maybe our government is changing, so our industry needs to change.”
He said the Master Innholders had a ‘robust five-year plan’ in place to help it meet the industry’s changing needs. “It [the conference] has evolved and will continue to evolve. We are really keen to make sure we are the most relevant and attended conference.”
David Guile, executive leadership and business coach, outlined the importance of reflection to enable performance to improve. The former hotel CEO talked about the pressure of working in the hospitality industry and said time was a ‘precious commodity’ and therefore we need to think about what is really important. He said taking 15 minutes a day to think about ‘the plates that needed to be spun, the ones that can be dropped,’ could benefit hoteliers and their businesses.
Reflection, he said, made people more self-aware, motivated and open to change. He explained: “You don’t learn from experience, you learn from reflecting on that experience and making some positive change.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality talked about what the organisation was doing to support the industry. Identifying that hospitality had a turnover of £130bn last year – double that of financial services – had helped give hospitality a seat at the table and made the government realise how important the sector was to the economy. She said the fact that the government had scrapped settled status fees for EU citizens and were holding a consultation over the National Minimum Wage increases were positive signs they were listening to the industry.
Keynote speaker Marcus Child gave an inspiring and uplifting talk on the subject of personal power. Sharing his own experience and working with others on achieving their ambitions, he gave top tips on how to meet challenges and how to confidently set and meet aspirational goals.
In his two and a half hour session, Child talked about how seeing the potential in others could enable them to achieve more than they believed themselves capable of. “Be predisposed to see the power in other people” he said.
Through statistics and case studies he showed how inclusion within an organisation is the number one way to build employee engagement and loyalty, while 80-90% of employee behaviour is shaped by the behaviour and attitude of the company’s leader.
The topic of employee engagement was followed on in Stefan Wissenbach’s session on day two of the conference. Wissenbach explained that measuring employee engagement regularly is essential to building a present, focused and energised team. According to research by his business, Engagement Multiplier, only 8% of employees are actively engaged and leaders need to change their strategy to breed engagement. “By implementing the Japanese process of Kaizen to make small incremental changes, businesses can complete a full engagement transformation”, he explained.
Senior Lecturer at École hôtelière de Lausanne Ian Millar, provided a countdown of the top technology hypes and hot trends that will impact hotels. The latest tech hypes include 8K televisions, dedicated mobile apps and in-room robots, whereas guest-own content, such as Netflix, guest communication platforms and 5G have been hailed the must-have capabilities for any hotel.
Within his session ‘The Market’, David Bailey, Senior Director – Head of Client Solutions, CBRE Hotels provided insight into the state of the industry and announced a rise in RevPAR across UK cities and provinces, with London seeing a 2.4% increase. Investments are being made into experiential properties, according to Bailey, due to the increase in middle-class travel and the experience economy.
Keynote speaker Rob May provided an accessible outlook on cyber security and the latest threats to businesses. May believes that the best defence against cyber crime is your employees and by training them properly, cyber scams will be more easily recognised and dealt with. “Every 15 seconds an identity is stolen online, so by completing the mandatory training, you and your employees can protect yourselves and your guests,” he said.
May outlined the range of scams threatening individuals and businesses, including Malware, social engineering and phishing, as well as introducing the audience to protection services, such as haveibeenpwned.com, which will let people know whether they have been a target of a data breach, and Last Pass, which will generate new, personal and complex passwords automatically.
Founder of The Black Farmer and entrepreneur Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones closed this year’s conference programme with an inspirational talk on how he achieved his life-long dream and how being courageous and embracing jeopardy will support your career. From joining the army to becoming a producer of the BBC Food programmes, each step in Emmanuel-Jones’ career led him to accomplish his goal of owning his own farm, stemming from his childhood experience of his father’s allotment, which led to the launch of a national food brand.
On Monday 28 January, guests attended the annual conference’s Gala Dinner. A Moët & Chandon Champagne reception was followed by a delicious three-course menu, created by the skilled team at Intercontinental London – The O2. Guests generously took part in a raffle to raise vital funds for the Master Innholders Charitable Trust, Springboard and Hospitality Action, raising £8,000.
The conference attracted a record number of industry-leading sponsors, including Topline Sponsor Technogym and Gold Plus Sponsor Sky.
For more information on the Master Innholders, please visit www.masterinnholders.co.uk.