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Annual Hotel Conference Key Takeaways

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By Derek Reid – 26th November 2021

This year’s Annual Hotel Conference (AHC) was made even more exciting by being the first in-person version of the event since 2019. Going into the conference I was thrilled to be attending and eager to find out what the brightest minds in the sector would have to say about the biggest issues affecting the hospitality industry in 2021/22.

It was the welcome return of an in-person event following last year’s online AHC. We spent the 2020 conference discussing the pandemic’s impact from a position of preparation for bounce back, and our anticipation for a Q2 / Q3 return of guests. However, circumstances have meant that this year we found ourselves discussing many similar issues under the overarching theme of “change for good”.

Here are my key takeaways from the event.

The Impact of Coronavirus

Of course, it would have been impossible to have discussed anything without first addressing that which has been occupying the global mind for the past 18 months. Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on the hotel and hospitality industry, and the repercussions are still being felt.

We discussed the areas of the sector which have begun to bounce back – and where there are still pinch points. We’re still seeing some hotels with relatively low occupancies, and a continued reluctance to travel that leans very heavily on confidence in safety measures both in hotel spaces and on public transport and airlines.

Adapting to the New World

The general consensus among delegates was that a return to ‘normal’ is almost inconceivable. The real question now is how we adapt hotels and hospitality to the ‘new normal’. We discussed everything from updated hygiene practises, flexibility / adaptability of public spaces, and new ways of marketing the sector.

When is a Hotel not a Hotel?

A hot topic was whether hotels can continue to operate in the way they have for decades. Are overnight stays dipping in popularity, and will this be a long-term issue?

If so, in order to stay afloat, new opportunities must be seized with investment restructured to match the needs of both established and potential clients.

The conference was an incredibly engaging couple of days, with some really stimulating debates on how our industry will continue to shape following the pandemic and Brexit. I enjoyed exploring the new ideas discussed by the best of the best in the sector and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.  Rather than apprehensive, I left the event energised, in anticipation for what these new ideas could mean for the hotel landscape.

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