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January 7th 2013 | HOSPACE 2012 breaks all previous attendance records!

HOSPACE Registration Building on the success of HOSPA’s acclaimed 2011 Annual Conference and Exhibition, HOSPACE 2012 – entitled ‘Taking the Investment Forward – Making the Most of the Investment in Your People and Business to Create Value’ –again broke the previous year’s attendance record when it was held on 22 November at the Sofitel Hotel, London Heathrow at Terminal 5.

Over 400 delegates, speakers and IT exhibitors gathered for what proved to be a highly informative, productive and enjoyable day that opened with an excellent Industry Overview presented by Konstanze Auernheimer, Director of Marketing & Analysis at STR Global, and Liz Hall, Head of Hospitality & Leisure Research at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Following the Industry Overview, a prestigious panel of top hospitality industry executives put the current hottest hospitality issues, trends and developments under the microscope in a special ‘Leaders Panel’ discussion. Under the skilful guidance of HOSPA Chairman Paul Dukes – also Chairman at Kew Green Hotels – the Leaders Panel comprised HOSPA President Robert Cook, Chief Executive of De Vere Hotels & Village Urban Resorts; Surinder Arora, Founder and Chairman of Arora Hotels; Grant Hearn, Chief Executive, Travelodge; Angela Vickers, Managing Director, Apex Hotels; and Stephen Cassidy, Area Vice President at Hilton Worldwide. Key observations arising from the discussion included:

  • In the current climate, don’t wait for the economy to improve – instead think smarter, be creative, be innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • In this environment, your employees tend to be forgotten. Developing your people is essential, as are apprenticeship schemes and attracting starters to the industry. Working with universities and colleges to develop management courses is also important – creating a pipeline to potential good leaders.
  • Should the industry have a dedicated Minister for Tourism? It was agreed that it would make sense to have a dedicated Tourism Minister. It was also mooted that the UK should follow the US example where President Obama established a cross departmental committee to drive tourism, to take on board important considerations such as immigration.

It was then the turn of a distinguished panel of hotel finance experts to examine one of the greatest challenges currently facing the UK hospitality industry – the crucial issue of obtaining hotel finance. Under the skilful chairmanship of HVS Chairman Russell Kett, the hotel finance panellists – who discussed ‘Getting the Wheels of Finance to Turn Again’ – included: Sylvia Matthews, Senior Vice President, Finance, Jumeirah Group; John Stuart, Financial Director at BDL Management – the UK’s largest multi brand and hotel management company; Graeme Smith, Partner, Zolfo Cooper Corporate Finance, who leads Zolfo Cooper’s activities in the hotel sector; and Bob Silk, Relationship Director, Hospitality & Leisure Team at Barclays Bank PLC.

Commenting on the ‘Finance Panel’ session, Russell Kett said: “Boosting investment in the world’s hotel sector is the single biggest challenge facing the sector today. Despite strong buyer interest in the global hotel market and plenty of equity available, not least from the Far East and Middle East, there are few hotel transactions taking place outside key locations and gateway cities across Europe.

“In the UK, there is little investor appetite in the provinces where hotel trading continues to languish in all but the best-run hotels. Obtaining debt finance for hotel acquisitions is tough and a number of re-financings due in the next year will prove challenging to accomplish in the current environment without a significant chunk of fresh equity and an understanding bank.”

Drawing the morning sessions to a close, HOSPACE 2012 then examined Revenue Management. As Revenue Management becomes an ever growing force to be considered in the hospitality industry, an expert panel put Revenue Management’s contribution to the industry under the microscope.

Delegates Under the astute chairmanship of Professor Peter Jones MBE – Director at Wentworth Jones – a leading panel of hospitality Revenue Management practitioners and authorities on the subject scrutinised: ‘What is the Revenue Management contribution to strategy and future leadership in hospitality?’ The panellists included: Chris Cooper, Group Director of Revenue Management, Rocco Forte Hotels; Pamela Carvell, Owner of Pampas Marketing and Life President, Hotel Marketing Association; Mark White, General Manager, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels at Chelsea Football Club; and Jim Cockell, Group IT Solutions Director, National Express. Facilitators for the discussion were HOSPA Revenue Management Community (HRMC) Chair Warren Mandelbaum; and HRMC Deputy Chair Cheryl Hawksworth.

Commenting on the HOSPACE 2012 Revenue Management discussion, Warren Mandelbaum said: “Right now, Revenue Management is a well established force to be considered – its practices are tightly interwoven within the fabric of any commercially led organisation. This multi-faceted function has evolved from a purely tactical one focussing on yield, to having a far greater responsibility encompassing numerous areas – impacting Marketing, Sales, Distribution, Technology and Social Media to name but a few.

“Strategic company objectives and goals can only be accomplished with the appropriate strategy in place, usually managed by Revenue Management. Should these be out of place within the market or simply incorrect, the entire organisation is negatively impacted – highlighting the importance of having the correct Revenue Management strategy in place.”

The afternoon sessions kicked off with the HOSPACE 2012 IT Debate. Under the adroit guidance of HOSPA IT Community Chair Bryan Steele, Managing Director of Jireh-Tek, the panellists discussed the motion: ‘Can outsourced IT services really support the needs of Hospitality IT for both internal business requirements and guest services?’ The panel of leading hospitality IT professionals included: Jeremy Ward, Senior Vice President IT, Kempinski Hotels; Chris Huggett, Senior Vice President Networking Business, EMEA, Hewlett Packard; Paul Missen, Vice President Technology EMEA, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group; Joanne Stanford, Group IT Director, De Vere Group; and Raman (RP) Rama, Principal Vice President and Chief Technology Officer/Chief Information Officer at JHM Hotels, and President of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP).

There were arguments for and against the motion, but the prevailing conclusion was that outsourcing IT requirements to a cloud-based system could not only save money and expand the breadth of expertise, but remove many of the headaches – such as trying to keep abreast of ever changing IT technological developments, along with the cost and necessary IT expertise involved.

The afternoon Educational Workshops – which were all presented by companies and organisations that are specialists in their particular fields – were designed to enhance Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and support the theme of the one-day event: ‘Taking the Investment Forward – Making the Most of the Investment in Your People and Business to Create Value’. Each of the ‘Interactive Educational Workshops’ were placed into streams for Finance, Revenue Management and Technology – with subjects that respectively include: ‘Welcoming International Travellers to the UK with GB Knowledge and Dynamic Currency Choice Services’; ‘The Great Revenue Management Divide’; and ‘Building the Business Case for IT Investment and Networking Modernisation’.

HOSPA would like to thank all the companies and organisations, presenting the HOSPACE 2012 Educational Workshops, for their invaluable time and support. They included: Acentic, Atos, Avvio, Barclaycard, Beacon Purchasing, Daisy, Global Blue, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Hewlett Packard, IDeaS, Infor, Micros Fidelio, PAR Springer-Miller, Rate Tiger, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Solution Builders, The NAV People, Upskill People, and Xn Hotel Systems.

During the coffee, lunch and tea breaks, HOSPACE 2012 attendees were able to benefit from a growing and increasingly influential Exhibition of hospitality technology solutions – providing delegates with a ‘one stop shop’ to view and interact with the latest and ‘best in class’ technologies – covering all eventualities for any hospitality business, whether they be start-up, established independent, or multi chain-owned, operations.

A highly successful HOSPACE 2012 ended with a superb Gala Dinner where upbeat diners were taught to play African drums under the interactive supervision of Drum Café, followed by competitive entertainments and dancing into the early hours of the morning!

Details for HOSPACE 2013 will be released shortly – visit  www.hospace.net  for the latest update.

Written by Julian Demetriadi - CommunicationsPoint