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Viewpoint: My ideal hospitality trade conference

05 June 2015 by
Viewpoint: My ideal hospitality trade conference

Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels and veteran events contributor, outlines his fantasy hospitality trade conference

As a frequent contributor to various hospitality industry events, I am sometimes allowed a glimpse of the exhaustive planning that goes into the best of them. With a large number of conferences, seminars and trade shows competing for the time and attention of busy hoteliers throughout the year, only the cleverest organisers seem to come up with programmes that are sufficiently relevant to attract good numbers of attendees.

It is often said that there are too many events. I'm inclined to disagree, given that almost three million people work in hospitality and tourism, and there are only a couple of dozen serious national conferences and shows to serve us all. It is a fact, however, that a handful of the most engaged operators at the luxury end of the market can be seen repeatedly on the circuit. Perhaps that helps to explain their success?

Unsurprisingly, technology features heavily at almost all of these events nowadays, as do the latest marketing trends. But I have a sneaky suspicion that if everyone was totally honest about their interests, you would get a very different set of talks and presentations. Here are a few of the items you might expect to learn about at my fantasy hospitality trade conference, where secrets and obfuscation would be banned:

  • Details of the salaries paid to the general managers and executive head chefs with whom your business competes.
  • Real-life accounts of how others successfully poach talented staff, and how they got rid of troublesome employees.
  • What average room rates your main competitors actually achieve, and how many of your guests would still come if you shunned OTAs completely.
  • What your competitors did to achieve such stunning TripAdvisor reviews.
  • How easily ‘loyal' guests can be tempted elsewhere by the use of offers or a fresh marketing approach.
  • Where your rivals borrowed all that money from.
  • Just how complicated a booking engine/PMS interface needs to be before a chart and pencil become the better alternative.
  • Why the most successful operators seem to wear jeans all the time.

Despite the probable lack of answers to these vital questions, I am still looking forward to attending more events over the coming months, especially the Independent Hotel Show (20-21 October at Olympia), the General Managers' Conference organised by the Master Innholders (11-12 January at the Grosvenor House) and The Caterer Summit (13 November).

Things are moving so fast it really does help owners and managers to be aware of the new developments, especially in the minefield that is online booking channels. I have never known a period in which hotel operators have needed to be clued up on such a wide range of subjects, making chances to hear from experts while in the company of like-minded hoteliers all the more valuable.


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