HOSPACE2017 certainly lived up to our expectations and much more.
We were delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response from attendees to the excellent conference sessions, breakout workshops, technical updates and exhibition.
The ‘HOSPACE2017 Best Entrepreneur’ competition once again proved very popular and big congratulations go to this year’s winner Julie Grieve, Founder and Chief Executive of Criton Apps, who did a fantastic presentation on her company’s self-build guest app service to hotels and serviced apartments.
I am very grateful to the HOSPACE sponsors for their invaluable support. They - and the exhibitors - were pleased to be able to network with such high calibre, influential hospitality delegates in an atmosphere buzzing with excitement and expectation. The success of the day not only owed much to the first-rate speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, but also to the small band who make up our HOSPA Membership and Events team. I am immensely proud of them.
I would also like to offer special thanks to the Royal Lancaster Hotel for hosting us so well; and our master of ceremonies for the day Peter Hancock who, with his usual charm and wit, did a superb job in ensuring the smooth running of the event. Katherine Doggrell’s full conference report can be found on page 4.
That evening, the HOSPACE Gala Dinner saw Peter Hancock miraculously turned into a toastmaster par excellence; and diners were highly entertained by former England and Harlequins rugby union captain Nick Easter’s reminiscences of his playing days.
The dinner was also notable for the awarding of HOSPA’s three annual prestigious Inspirational Leader Professionals of the Year awards for hospitality finance, revenue management and IT. The 2017 winners were respectively: Cesco Righetti, Director of Finance, The Bulgari Hotel, London; Anaël Peu, Director of Revenue Management, Kew Green Hotels; and Barry Thomas, Area Director of Information Technology, Rosewood London. Big congratulations to all of them and thanks to the sponsors of each award category: BDO, IDeaS, and Opendoor by Keystep Solutions.
A record attendance at HOSPACE2017 has not been the only recent HOSPA milestone. A fortnight prior to our annual conference and exhibition, we held HOSPA’s inaugural Asset Management members’ meeting on 18 October. I am pleased to announce that we are now creating a fourth HOSPA community, dedicated to asset management. This will operate alongside our existing three communities of Hospitality Finance, IT and Revenue Management.
I am delighted that Diana Mountain, former chair of the HOSPA Finance Community (through until 2014) has agreed to lead this initiative, for which we are very grateful. Recognition must also go to HOSPA (then known as BAHA) founder member and HOSPA lifetime achievement award winner Howard Field, and to David Bridge, Director of Adafabridge Hotel Consultancy, who both set me on the Asset Management path.
The first Asset Management meeting was generously hosted by the Sofitel London St James and was led by Russell Kett. Russell is another founder member and HOSPA lifetime achievement award winner. He expertly moderated the highly knowledgeable and experienced panel - comprising Cody Bradshaw, Managing Director Acquisitions & Asset Management, Starwood Capital; Frank Croston, Partner and Director, Hamilton Hotel Partners; Hugh Taylor OBE, Chief Executive, Michels & Taylor; and Katie Benson, Regional Vice President Europe and General Manager, Jumeirah Carlton Tower London.
The meeting quickly established that owners are relying more and more on asset managers to look after their interests. There are fewer owner-operators left in the hotel industry and the profit pie is being divided amongst ever more participants.
Over 60 delegates listened to the discussion, instigating much debate, which left many questioning the future of hotels as we know them!
Lawyers weave clauses into management contracts - such as compliance with the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI), but does anyone understand what such clauses mean? Potentially more importantly, what are the implications of non-compliance?
Who is making sure that the operator is calculating their management fees correctly?
How are costs being reported, above or below Gross Operating Profit (GOP) for the calculation of incentive fees?What is being recorded as owners’ expenses that should be charged above the line?
Brands bring a lot of costs to the business - is the added value increasing in line with the costs? Distribution may be enhanced but is it worth the extra room booking charges, loyalty programme costs and central overhead recharges?Does the one-size-fits-all brand approach apply to individual hotels?
Does every hotel have to provide a fruit bowl for their guests if that’s what the Standard Operating Policy (SOP) says? What if fruit is out of season and/or very expensive?
Franchises offer a simple income stream without all the central overheads
Is there a role for operators in the future?
Certainly, there is plenty of material there to keep the asset management community busy. We wish them luck and wait with eager anticipation for more events in this field during 2018.