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The Independent Hotel Show 2019 inspires, informs and engages its hotelier community

An electric buzz filled the room as the eighth edition of the Independent Hotel Show presented by James Hallam Insurance Brokers, returned to Olympia London on 15 and 16 October.

The smooth combination of insightful sessions, dedicated suppliers and expertly choreographed networking opportunities helped deliver another successful event, with thousands of hoteliers welcomed through the doors to enjoy the largest and most relevant annual gathering for their community.

Following extensive consumer research, The Conscious Bedroom powered by Criton and designed by Harris & Harris, proved a great talking point, showing how a conscious approach could be applied to every aspect of a hotel bedroom, from the décor and furnishings, to technology and the mini bar products.

Supported by an in-depth discussion led by Hamish Kilburn of Hotel Designs and including designer Alex Harris, Sue Williams of Whatley Manor, Olivia Richli of Heckfield Place and Xenia zu Hohenlohe of Considerate Group, the panel explored the attitudes of the 76 percent of consumers who believe that hotels could do more to become greener. On the importance of environmental consciousness in the industry, Xenia commented that a hotel’s USP is beautiful environments, without which we have ‘no environment to sell’.

Highlighting the latest hotel trends was Independent Hotel Show ambassador, hotel critic and The Telegraph travel writer, Fiona Duncan whose new and exclusive trend tours were a hot ticket for hoteliers seeking ‘hidden gems’ in product inspiration.

The comprehensive seminar programme saw both the Hotel Vision Stage, in partnership with Quality in Tourism and the Innovation Stage, in partnership with eviivo, brimming with keen listeners hungry to hear and learn from the inspiring speakers from the hotel industry and beyond.

In Unpacking the Wellness Traveller, Sunday Times’ Susan d’Arcy asked panellists Rohaise Rose Bristow from The Torridon, David Connell from South Lodge, and Harry Cragoe from The Gallivant to explain the meaning of wellness in a hotel context, and all three agreed that it wasn’t all about ‘kale and yoga’.

At the Innovation Stage, Christalena Vraila from Mr Highline provided practical, implementable advice on the latest social media trends, and talked the audience through lead generation campaigns and best practice to beat the latest algorithm changes, for example posting consistently on Instagram in order to feature highly on your followers’ news feed.

On day two of the show, a full house at the Power Breakfast saw Artist Residence’s Justin Salisbury and Pig Hotels’ Robin Hutson discuss recruitment, successful business strategies and focusing on offering a seamless service regardless of the surrounding political and social climate. Justin told the audience that “if you have a good product, what’s going on around you is largely irrelevant.”

In Hospitality’s Place: Your Local Community, Nick Davies, Cottage in the Wood, Tim Holloway, The Manor at Sway and Julio Marques, The London Bridge Hotel, discussed how their hotels have engaged with the community through exhibiting local art in the lobby, literary luncheons and working with a local charity. Nick Davies emphasised that “the more we interact with the local community, the more potential there is for attracting good apprentices who can grow with us”. On sourcing and retaining talent, Robin Hutson also shared during the Power Breakfast that flexibility is key for staff retention, and when hiring, he’s less interested in whether a candidate is ‘double degreed’ and more interested in whether they demonstrate passion.

On the success of the show, event director Miranda Martin, said:

“It is always our aim to provide an inspiring experience and environment in which the hotel community can learn, connect and thrive together, so it was fantastic to see so many people engaging with our programme, meeting exhibitors and with industry friends. We were thrilled to welcome so many guests through the doors and feedback has been hugely positive from across the industry.”

Hoteliers and exhibitors shared their positive experiences of the Independent Hotel Show 2019:

Sue Williams, general manager at Whatley Manor, said:

“I really like the format of the Independent Hotel Show. You really do see the most up-to-date products on the market, which are great for inspiration and I like the fact that there are discussions taking place on stages around the edge of the show, providing lots of useful content that you can dip into.”

Nick Sunderland of Two’s Company Interior Design, design partner to The Suite, said:

“The Independent Hotel Show is one of the most important hotel shows in the country. It attracts a very diverse group of people, not just independent hoteliers, but also the larger groups. Being a design partner is a great way to show what we can do for hotels of any size and gets us in front of those we are keen to work with.”

“It was a strong show for us once again,” said Spencer Grimwood, project manager at Crown Sports Lockers which has exhibited at the show since it started, “featuring a diverse visitor profile that included independent hotel owners, golf and country clubs, interior designers, architects and restaurants, all working on live projects requiring our products. We came away from IHS19 with some serious leads to follow up.”

The Independent Hotel Show will return next year on 5-6 October and will be upgrading to the National Hall at Olympia London, with an improved aesthetic and experiential vision in this iconic location.