AHC recap: Brexit, immigration and further the issues affecting Europe's hotels

The Annual Hotel Conference

Last week, hoteliers from across the UK gathered for the 13th Annual Hotel Conference, held at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel, in Manchester, to discuss the latest issues affecting the hotel industry—and to prepare for the future.

At the conference, there was a notable shift in attitude toward industry disruptors—from one of caution to one that embraced the challenges and uses them to the advantage of the environment. 

In his opening address, Thomas Dubaere, COO HotelServices – AccorHotels UK & Ireland, said that he “chose to disrupt,” explaining  that disrupting is a mindset for all ages that can empower any business. 

This led to several references to millennials, their consumer habits, preferences and behaviors. In a presentation from BDRC, the delegation was informed that millennials have little interest in brands but are guided by user generated content in their purchasing decisions. Several speakers noted that while the current trends in the hospitality industry were first displayed by millennials, these habits and behaviors are now being adopted by other demographics and the industry must continue to adapt and respond. 

Doris and Dicky co-founder Roxane Gergaud explained that they were focused on creating "authentic experiences and human connections," as this was clearly an important factor for travelers today. Along the same theme, Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels, said that “storytelling would be the new buzz word” in the final panel discussion. 

An additional point to note—one that was echoed by Trevor Williams from the University of Derby during the Economic Overview, Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, British Hospitality Association and Deirdre Wells OBE, Chief Executive UKinbound—was the potential significant impact on UK hospitality if the proposed plans to drastically reduce the number of unskilled migrants comes into force. The Brexit, Williams said, will be “good news” as it will be cheaper for inbound tourists to visit the UK, and that staycations may increase for locals. The stemming of immigration will have cost implications, he added, as it may lead to increased wages in the unskilled sector. 

The Issues

Prior to the conference, HOTEL MANAGEMENT in partner with AHC spoke to several speakers to discuss the issues and trends impacting the hospitality industry worldwide and in the UK, more particularly. 

Danny Pecorelli—managing director of Exclusive Hotels and Venues, an independent group of country house properties in the south of the UK—talked about how to successfully operate F&B, the state of UK's hospitality industry and its future. 

Max Thorne, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle's Hotels & Hospitality Group, shared insights on the changing nature of hotel operations and how home-sharing services are affecting Europe's hospitality industry.

Tim Walton, Marriott’s RVP of international development for Western Europe, discussed Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and the company’s plans for growth in Europe.

OakNorth Bank Director of Debt Finance Trevor Morris discussed lending in the UK and the rest of Europe, and the future of financing hotel development, while David Bailey, senior director EMEA for CBRE Hotels, talked about the Brexit, the push for a national living wage, how the U.S. election is affecting Britain's hotels and how the hotel brand that bears the name of the GOP Presidential candidate would fare in the UK.