The theme of this year's Master Innholders Hotel General Managers' Conference is "Shaping our future". Karl Cushing takes a look ahead at the programme for the two-day event
If you're still wondering what the New Year will bring for you, then help could be at hand in the shape of this month's Master Innholders Hotel General Managers' Conference.
The theme of the two-day event - which will take place on 21 and 22 January at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in London's Cadogan Square - is "Shaping our future". The conference will explore the key challenges facing general managers and the hotel industry as a whole in the coming years, with a series of presentations and panel discussions delivered by an interesting mix of high-profile speakers from both inside and outside the hospitality industry.
Andrew McKenzie, managing director of the Peter Michael Collection and current chairman of the Master Innholders, says the key purpose of the conference is to identify the key issues facing general managers "at the coalface".
"There are lots of conferences around, but this is the only one by general managers for general managers," says McKenzie. But while he freely refers to it as "a fantastic networking event", McKenzie is keen to stress that the conference is more than just an annual get-together. "We want to provide the GMs with some useful tools they can go away with, as well as some interesting insights," he says, adding: "It's not a supper club."
One key area on this year's agenda is people management, with strands looking at sourcing talent, how the industry deals with its talent, and stress and conflict management, while adventurer and consultant Manley Hopkinson will be on hand to impart some hard-earned leadership skills.
Looking to the future, in his session Nick Van Marken, from Deloitte, will be offering some insight into global trends and economic developments while a session from American Express will look at the changing face of luxury in the industry on the back of a recent study the company carried out. A key focus will be how GMs can help their hotels meet customers' changing expectations.
On the tools side, the conference will feature sessions on key areas such as benchmarking and delivering exceptional service, while Peter Hancock, of Pride of Britain, will be offering some marketing insights. Also on the marketing front, closing the second day of the event will be Bill Baker, of Vancouver firm Storydriven.com, who says that every hotel has its own great story to tell, which, if delivered consistently by the whole team, can help it shape its future and gain a competitive edge.
McKenzie says the sessions are designed to have relevance to managers of differing levels from the full spectrum of the industry, from smaller, owner-managed properties in the country to large five-star hotels in cities.
Other activities include the launch of a new training initiative by Springboard and a black-tie Champagne reception and dinner, when the Considerate Hoteliers Association will announce the winners of its Considerate Hotelier awards for 2007. The organisers have also engaged the services of EasyGroup's Stelios Haji-Ioannou as after-dinner speaker.
For those who still remain undecided after all of that, McKenzie has the following message: "Next year will be a difficult year, so the more information you've got, the better," he says. "Start the year as you plan to continue."
Monday 21 January
- Welcome by Andrew McKenzie, chairman of the Master Innholders
- Introduction, with Bob Cotton (left), chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, as session chairman
- "What conflict?" by Manley Hopkinson, adventurer and leadership consultant
- "The owner's expectations", by Ramsey Mankarious, CEO, Cedar Capital Partners
- "Managing talent", a panel discussion led by Peter Lederer, president, Institute of Hospitality
- The Master Innholders Scholarships and the launch of Springboard's work-experience kits
- "Delivering exceptional service", by Trent Walsh, Leading Quality Assurance
- "Global trends and the economy", by Nick van Marken, Deloitte Tourism & Leisure
- "Winning the future", by Professor Joe Nellis, pro-vice-chancellor, Cranfield University
- MÁ¶et Hennessy Champagne reception and dinner (black tie), when Caterer editor Mark Lewis will introduce the magazine's Hotelier of the Year, Michael Gray
Tuesday 22 January
- Introduction, with Michael Hirst of CB Richard Ellis as session chairman
- "Stressed to kill!" by Meriel Schindler, head of the employment group at Withers
- "Money makes the world go round", an insight into luxury spending with American Express
- Benchmarking presentation by Jamie Chappell, of the Bench
- Coffee break
- "Shooting in the dark", a marketing panel chaired by Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain
- "Government and hospitality", by Martin Couchman, the British Hospitality Association
- "Transforming your future through story", by Bill Baker, Storydriven.com
- Concluding remarks by Andrew McKenzie
- Buffet lunch
The Master Innholders
The Master Innholders was formed by the Worshipful Company of Innholders in a bid to renew its old links with the innkeeping industry.
There are about 100 Master Innholders, all of whom are, or have been, prominent hoteliers. Membership is by invitation only and, in order to be accepted, candidates have to undergo a rigorous interview process and clearly demonstrate their innkeeping ability and ongoing support for improving standards within the industry.
The current chairman of the Master Innholders is Andrew McKenzie, managing director of the Peter Michael Collection, which includes the award-winning Vineyard at Stockcross, the Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa and the Donnington Valley Golf Club.