The Independent Hotel Show returned to Olympia London on 4-5 October to bring together the boutique and independent hotel community for a packed two days of networking, learning and product sourcing.
Day one of the show saw a focus on sustainability across the two stages, with speakers and experts from across the hospitality sector and beyond sharing insights and best practice.
Natalie Campbell OBE, Co-CEO of Belu Water and panellist on the session ‘ESG: How to save the planet (and your business)’, said: “Today’s show has been absolutely amazing and there’s been a buzz across the whole hall. The questions that people have been asking are so insightful. Everyone is on their sustainability journey, people are really thinking about what the right thing for them to do is, and they’re curious which, given the landscape of the industry right now, is amazing. They want to commit; they want to learn, and they want to do the right thing.”
Visitors also had the opportunity to learn about The Inclusive Hotel Room, designed by Cocoon & Bauer, how to tackle major industry challenges such as staffing and the cost of living, and how to ‘stand out to sell out’ in the sector.
Panellist Kalindi Juneja, CEO of Pride of Britain Hotels, commented: “The show has been brilliant. I attend every year of course but it’s so nice this year to see such a buzz and so many suppliers. It’s been really good. Times are challenging and to stand out marketing is more important than ever; you’ve got to have that competitive edge.”
Design was also a major focus for the event, with design partners Taner’s Sons bringing the show’s Social Business Space, sponsored by Planet, to life and Design Command creating two stunning content stages.
Day two saw the session ‘To connect or to disconnect: How should we be designing hotel spaces for the future?’ draw a 50 person audience eager to learn about the place technology holds in the future of hotel design. Chaired by Deign Insider Editor, Alys Bryan, the discussion explored how technology can help to personalise and streamline the guest experience.
Panellist Holly Hallam, Managing Director of DesignLSM, commented: “The show has been great and really busy and it’s nice to see so many new exhibitors. It’s been great to see all the new faces and new products that we can provide to our clients. When it comes to technology, it’s an enabler, and it provides solutions to deliver on a number of experiences whether that’s back-of-house, operational or through guest engagement or marketing and sales. It’s ever prevalent and it’s about using it in the most effective way to elevate your brand experience.”
Technology is rarely the focus of conversation between a client and designer, so it was really interesting to hear a discussion on this. There we’re 3 fascinating points that we took away from this talk:
- An evolution in how we work, accelerated by the pandemic, has driven hospitality settings to review how their spaces can be used. New multiuse spaces have been opened up to welcome working guests and visitors, supported by a high speed infrastructure, which also creates new F&B offerings and increased revenue streams.
- New technology is not limited to use within the hotel setting or as part of the pre-arrival process. Technological advances impact every level of the process, including advanced design software, material development, manufacturing capabilities and logistics, as well as aiding our sectors drive to address our environmental and carbon footprint.
- We will increasing see technology facilitate wellness within hospitality, for example enabling subtleties and customisation of lighting. Tech will be intuitive, seamless, usable and adaptable in the future.
The seminars across the two days we’re well attended, showing a thirst for knowledge within the sector, and in turn the importance of sharing such knowledge and expertise in order to continue the progression of the industry.
Recognising industry excellence
The winners of the 10th annual Independent Hotel Show Awards were announced on the evening of 4 October at the show, with the who’s who of the boutique and independent hotel sector in attendance at a packed awards ceremony.
Recognising the passion of independently spirited hoteliers who drive the hospitality sector forward, the Independent Hotel Show Awards champion all that make independent hotels such amazing places to stay.
Oliver Brown, General Manager of Wivenhoe House Hotel, home to the Edge Hotel School, was recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to the sector and to the next generation of hospitality professionals, with a special, surprise additional award.
Karen Weisheit, Hotel Manager at The Grove of Narberth, won GM of the Future, in partnership with the Master Innholders, and Stuart Procter, Chief Operating Officer at Stafford Collection, was awarded Independent Hotelier of the Year.
Due to the outstanding calibre of entries, the judges also chose to award two ‘Highly Commended’ accolades to Beth Bryant, Hotel Manager at The Ickworth Hotel and Alexander Wilson, Front Office Manager at The Goring, for their determination and passion for hospitality.
In addition to winning the GM of the Future accolade, Weisheit will be granted a place on the Talent Development Programme at Cranfield in 2023, worth £12,000. This is funded by a generous bequest to the Master Innholders Charitable Trust by the late Neil Bannister, a former Master Innholder.
Procter said of the award: “I’m very honoured and humbled to win such a wonderful award and to be shortlisted alongside some of the best hoteliers in Britain. It really is a privilege to be the boss of the Stafford and I only win this award because of the 200 people behind me who are exceptional day in, day out.”
Bringing the hotel community together
As always, the Independent Hotel Show brought together the UK’s unique independent and boutique hotel community, with dedicated networking sessions, roundtable discussions and a carefully curated seminar programme.
Sue Williams, General Manager at Whatley Manor, said of the event: “This year’s Independent Hotel Show was truly vibrant and not only showcased the best suppliers that are supporting hospitality at the moment but also the Innovation and Hotel Vision Stage presentations were really informative and helped bring me up to date on current thoughts and trends. A great day, thank you.”
Wayne Davis, Hotel General Manager at Astor Court Hotel in London, added: “I have been fortunate to attend the Independent Hotel Show for a number of years to meet friends and industry colleagues both old and new, attend seminars and the prestigious awards ceremony. Year after year there are new inventive ideas and business supplier presentations at the wide array of stands. I never come away without bringing new technology, creative guest supplies and amenities to my independent hotel for our valued guests to enjoy as part of their Astor Court Hotel experience.”
Suppliers also hailed the success of the event, with Demi Pendakis, Owner & Founder of F.Y.G, commenting: “First time exhibiting and what a wonderful surprise. I got in front of key decisionmakers in the hotel sector in my first show, something I have been trying to do for the last year. Brilliant. Obviously rebooked.”
Rajan Chonkaria, Director at Print Station, added: “This is our first year with the Independent Hotel Show and we have enjoyed it immensely. We have built a very good list of leads which came from people who are here for a purpose and not just a browse. The event had great footfall and was managed by Montgomery Group to a very high level.”
The Independent Hotel Show will return to Olympia London on 16-17 October 2023 for the independent hotel community. To keep up to date with the latest news, subscribe to the Independent Hotel Show newsletter.