The Master Innholders’ 22nd Annual General Managers’ Conference saw more than 400 of the UK’s hoteliers gather at London Hilton on Park Lane in January, to discuss experiences from the past year and share their thoughts of the direction of the market for 2015.
Some key note speakers took to the stage to offer advice and tips on business for the coming year, as well as highlighting some of the main trends that look set to make an impact.
Day one saw the point raised about the general manager’s instrumental role as the motivator who shapes team performance and who this is crucial to developing strong relationships within a workforce.
Reflecting on the event, Master Innholders chairman Jonathan Raggett FIH MI said: “There are a huge number of conferences and trade shows for our industry now, but I still believe this is the most important meeting of minds for general managers serious about achieving excellence right across their business.”
Keith Hatter, CEO of K2 Performance Systems, said: “Your role is not to motivate your people. They’re already motivated. Your role is to create a climate where your people have a choice about how they perform, to induce a sense of autonomy and choice.”
Liz Timoney-White from Franklin Covey talked delegates through four simple ‘disciplines of execution’ for achieving more – Focus, Leverage, Execution, Accountability – advising that most people come unstuck at the stage where leadership strategy needs to be communicated to the team, to enable that strategy to filter through into the organisation’s culture.
The BHA’s Martin Couchman OBE underlined legislative focuses for the hospitality industry in 2015, including changes to zero hours contracts, the working time directive, holiday pay, shared parental leave, business rates and the National Minimum Wage.
Ufi Ibrahim FIH, chief executive of the BHA, later expressed her dislike of the term ‘zero hours contracts’ during an on-stage interview about the BHA’s ongoing government campaigning, led by Peter Hancock FIH MI, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels.
“They are not zero hours contracts, they are flexible hours contracts. In the modern era I think flexible hours contracts are right and I fully support having them. I do not like the term ‘zero hours contracts’ though. I think we as an industry need to very careful about the language we use and not fall into the traps that government set for us.”
Day two was designed to energise and inform with a firm focus on behaviour-shaping technologies.
Mario Jobbe, COO of digital agency Circos Brand Karma, unpicked the wants and wishes of ‘millennials’ when they travel and told of the control millennials now have over a brand’s messages as a result of social media and user-generated hotel review websites.
Low-touch luxury, brand-to-consumer marketing using conversational platforms like WhatsApp, and a shift from price to an exchange of value were all cited as responses to millennial travel behaviour traits. The technologies predicted to disrupt hospitality in the coming months and years include the use of virtual reality for creating new, immersive experiences both on-site in hotels and in the booking process, advances towards 4K photography and video quality and the growth of Google Now, which involves predictive and proactive information sharing by mobile devices based on users’ lifestyle patterns.