Independent Hotel Show Q&A with Miranda Martin

The Independent Hotel Show is the only industry event dedicated entirely to the need of luxury and boutique hoteliers.

They strive to deliver a guest experience above and beyond that of the typical trade show so whether you’re looking for inspiration from our sublime designers, innovation from leading technology suppliers, or simply to discover something new for your hotel, they are confident you’ll discover the solutions you are searching for!

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Design Insider spoke with Portfolio Director, Miranda Martin about the upcoming show.

Please could you tell us about yourself and your background?

I am Portfolio Director of Montgomery’s Independent Hotel Show (London and Amsterdam) and The Pub Show. Having launched the Independent Hotel Show in 2012, I’ve had eight years to immerse myself in the hotel community and the show is very much ‘my baby’. I’m a ‘people person’, so hospitality is a natural fit and I love staying in hotels as much as I love working with hotel people.

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In my role I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds of fantastic operators and professionals who share my passion for the industry and the people in it. An event specialist, my mantra is experience first, exhibition last and I pride myself on curating the best teams to deliver the best possible experiences for the communities our events serve. 

How does the Independent Hotel Show differentiate itself from other industry events?

Personality. Intimacy. Real connection to the hotelier community. Combined team love of hotels. Our ability to be nimble and make quick decisions to improve the show when we learn something new. A desire to evolve. Personal service is everything. So, as a team, we strive to deliver service to our visitor and exhibitor customers that reflects that which you would expect to experience in a lovely independent hotel.

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We try to build real connections with individuals from within our community. It allows us to learn and grow in line with the industry’s needs. As mentioned, we put experience first and exhibition last, so we really focus on the little details to ensure our guest experience is tip top.

How do you keep the event fresh each year?

We consult with a diverse group of hoteliers each year, carefully selected to represent the breadth of our audience. These hoteliers guide us on the content they feel deserves to be included in the programme to ensure it best serves the industry. We run consumer questionnaires into ‘guest preferences’, such as the Conscious Bedroom questionnaire for this edition.

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We combine this with intimate, expert led round table discussions in which we consult with specialists on topics such as technology, sustainability, design etc to ensure the content we’re including reflects the most cutting-edge industry knowledge. Plus, we have a real focus on what we call ‘community building’. Every person in the team spends at least one day a month visiting hotels, meeting with GMs and taking tours of properties. This gives us great insight into what’s going on in hotel businesses on the ground. It’s an organic process with its core deep within the hotelier community.

What should we look forward to at this year’s event?

A huge focus on the ‘spirit of independence’. Having run the show for 8 years we don’t want to forget the foundation the show was built for, true independent hoteliers, at the coal face. We’ll be running ‘around the campfire’ sessions in the Social Business Space as a nod towards the history of storytelling and the true spirit of independence. This industry, particularly those who are truly independent hoteliers, is made up of passionate people with a story to tell. And we’re giving them an opportunity to be heard.

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We’ve introduced a new award category. The GM of the Future, in association with The Master Innholders. The Independent Hotel Show is always on the lookout for ways to champion young operators and this new award, in association with the Master Innholders allows us to provide the opportunity for five young talents to gain massive personal brand exposure, exposing them to our well-established community of hoteliers. Our candidates are young, punchy and we look forward to introducing them to you all! We will also be awarding a surprise recognition for lifetime achievement at the show…

How will you be addressing the current industry debates at the event?  What are these current ‘hot topics’?

We pride ourselves on having a cutting edge and relevant seminar programme across our two stages each year. The Hotel Vision Stage hosts impactful and educational presentations and panel discussions around key industry topics such as the ever-challenging issue of staffing, mental health of both staff and guests plus the opportunities and value in brand partnerships. Not to mention our pioneer interview with Robin Hutson, founder of Home Grown Hotels’ ‘The Pig Hotel Group’ and ‘Limewood Group’.

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On the Innovation Stage we have trends focused content covering topics such as the changing F&B landscape in hotels, the technologies improving business efficiencies and connectivity plus an expert panel of eco-championing hoteliers who will discuss the results of our Conscious Bedroom Report. This aligns with the ‘Conscious Bedroom’ installation you’ll find on the show floor, which has been made in partnership with Criton and brought to life by Harris + Harris.

Has the current economic climate had an impact on this year’s event? 

Honestly, not that we have felt as event organisers.

What will be your highlight at this year’s event? 

The Conscious Bedroom, in partnership with Criton, is the most significant new attraction, curated through consultation with a collective of ‘sustainability’ experts including Juliet Kinsman, writer, consultant and founder of Bouteco, Justin Salisbury, owner of Artist Residence hotels, Mark Godfrey, MD of Deer Park Country House, as well as via insight gained through our Conscious Bedroom questionnaire into consumer preferences around ‘eco-conscious’ behaviours and desires.

Design Insider Cheeky Chairs Elkin

The Conscious Bedroom installation will bring together a ‘design museum’ type exhibit of some of the things hoteliers can do to help care for our planet.

We’re lucky to have Fiona Duncan, hotel critic and travel writer for The Telegraph as our official ambassador to this year’s show, ‘playing hostess with the mostess’ in the Social Business Space. Her mission in her own words is to introduce independent hoteliers to others who will have common challenges and experiences so they can get into real talk around running an independent business and hopefully find solace in kindred spirits and shared experiences.

Fiona will also be hosting trend tours guiding groups of hoteliers around some of our more unique exhibitors.

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How are you addressing the environmental impact of your event?

As an organisation we are addressing the sustainability of all our events and the environmental impact is clearly a major part of this. The nature of exhibitions means it’s impossible to be perfect or even close, but we are making conscious choices where we can and are committed to being better.

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I could list the things we’re doing such as, recyclable carpet, reducing single-use plastic, reducing print waste and encouraging our guests to make environmentally conscious choices whilst at the show. However, real change is required across the exhibition industry as a whole and Montgomery is working with other organisers, suppliers and venues, as well as industry associations, to change the bigger picture together.