The Custard team was on the ground at the Annual Hotel Conference this month, managing the PR, coordinating media opportunities, and gathering insightful content from a plethora of sessions with leading hospitality experts. Here, we share our top insights and takeaways.
How many mortgages need to go up before the queues stop outside a Brighton Bakery? That was the question posed to hospitality industry leaders this week by James Pomeroy, Global Economist, HSBC at the Annual Hotel Conference (AHC) in Manchester . He highlighted that despite the growing financial pressure on households, the stable demand for coffee shop and bakery goods demonstrates a resilience in discretionary spending habits, a positive picture for the hospitality industry.
In what has been a challenging period for hoteliers in the UK, the past 12 months have certainly seen leaders having to reconsider their mindset around their offering, processes and what the next steps are to grow their businesses.
Adapt to thrive
Revenge travel alongside the use of services and the enjoyment of experiences has seen growth in the last year, with domestic travel rebounding to just below 2019 numbers, and inbound tourism continuing to grow alongside long-haul travel, according to David Goodger of Tourism Economics. There is clearly a lot to be positive about, however, it’s more apparent than ever that the hospitality industry certainly cannot rest on its laurels and must continue to adapt.
James’ question quite beautifully sums up what hoteliers are currently asking themselves – if the market in the UK changes further due to economic strains, and savings start to get hit, what do we have to do to continually appeal to peoples’ hearts as well as their heads?
Attendees to the conference also heard from Greater Manchester’s Major Andy Burnham, who discussed what has led to the city’s continued growth and continual pull of tourists. The work that has gone on behind the scenes to increase the city’s offering, create fantastic transport links, and attract local talent is certainly beginning to pay off. Andy also stated how important the hospitality industry is to the city, especially with him stating that Manchester is “the place of 24-hour party people.”
Power of experience
One constant theme throughout AHC was the power of experience, and how it should be considered from the way that developers plan new projects, all the way down to the small attention to detail to ‘wow’ guests and provide the personal touches that the 2023 traveller demands.
In what was an insightful two days of conversations, the biggest names in the industry including hotel investors, owners and suppliers met to discuss the most pertinent of subjects, from ESG to F&B offerings and the repurposing of buildings. The strongest message coming across from the conference was that being adaptive is imperative across all portions of the sector in order to navigate what is sure to be another tough 12 months of trading, if economic pressures continue to hit the average traveller as predicted.
The shining light for the industry is that whilst customers continue to cut back in other areas of their lives, travelling, eating new foods, and exploring new locations are as important as ever. Customers continue to want those unique experiences that they’ll remember and share. Whilst being adaptive and agile is key, this was the overriding message from the conference – putting people first will always come up trumps.