Now Hotel Interview Series: Colm Mac Rory

Although over recent years it has not been a smooth journey for the hospitality sector there is much to celebrate!

There are new design and operational concepts being thoughtfully explored which deliver experiences requested by hotel guests and there are initiatives which progressively address sustainability, employee wellbeing and the integration of new technology.

This series of interviews aims to paint a clear picture of where the hotel sector is now and goes on to highlight which conversations are leading in this commercial sector, before looking at what the future may hold. We finish by learning a little more about what excites our interviewees when working in this often challenging sector.

We sat down with our Ambassador Colm Mac Rory to gather a clear insight into the hospitality sector from the viewpoint of a leading Commercial Interior Supplier.

Enjoy the full Now Hotel Interview Series here

Please could you introduce yourself and your role?

Irish art consultant Colm Mac Rory, Founder and Managing Director of Spires Art.

I began working in the art field in 1988 with a primary focus on high-end hotel, leisure and commercial projects and created. Spires Art which is one of Europe’s leading Art Consulting & Manufacturing companies. For the past 35 years, we have been advising, creating and installing art, mirrors, decorative glass, feature wallpapers etc… to the Hotel & Leisure Industry. Spires Art have worked on hundreds of Trade Contracts varying from small hotels, pubs and restaurants to hospitals, large hotel groups and cruise ships.

We provide the same professional approach whatever the scale of the project and pride ourselves in working closely with all our clients to make sure we reach the objectives of the initial brief and follow through the creative process from concept to completion.
We make sure that each job is carried out on budget and on schedule as there is nothing better than a satisfied client that can often lead to additional projects and referral work, so spreading the Spires Art brand.

From concept to completion, Spire Arts manage the artisans and craftspeople selected to create each piece, ensuring their artwork meets their clients’ specification and works structurally with artistic integrity. You Dream It & we will Make It!

Within the hospitality sector what is the key thing that we can celebrate right now?

There are several key points to celebrate in the hospitality sector:

1. Recovery: After a challenging period during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality sector is showing signs of recovery. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are gradually reopening, bringing back jobs and revitalizing the industry.

2. Increased travel: With vaccination efforts and easing of travel restrictions, people are more confident about travelling again. This has resulted in a surge in bookings and occupancy rates for hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals.

3. Innovation and adaptability: The pandemic forced the hospitality sector to innovate and adapt to new safety protocols and customer preferences. Businesses have implemented contactless check-ins, enhanced cleaning procedures, and improved outdoor dining options, among other measures, to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for guests.

4. Sustainability: The hospitality sector has also made significant strides in adopting sustainable practices. Many establishments are focusing on eco-friendly initiatives, such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and supporting local communities. This commitment to sustainability aligns with the growing environmental consciousness of travellers.

5. Technology advancements: The use of technology has accelerated in the hospitality industry, enhancing guest experiences. From mobile apps for seamless bookings and personalized recommendations to in-room smart devices, technology has become an integral part of the sector, making operations more efficient and convenient for both guests and staff.

Overall, the hospitality sector’s resilience, adaptability, and commitment to customer safety and satisfaction deserve recognition and celebration as it continues to rebound and evolve.

What are the hurdles which are currently stalling the hotel and/or hospitality sector’s growth?

The hotel and hospitality sector in 2023 faces several hurdles that are impeding its growth. Again, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to cast a shadow. Additionally, the industry grapples with labour shortages, making it challenging to maintain adequate staffing levels and provide quality services. The lack of skilled workers, coupled with changing workforce demographics and increased competition for talent, exacerbates this issue.

Another significant hurdle is the rise of alternative accommodation options such as holiday rentals and home-sharing platforms. These alternatives offer unique experiences, competitive pricing, and a sense of authenticity that traditional hotels struggle to match. As a result, hotels face the challenge of adapting to changing consumer preferences and finding innovative ways to differentiate themselves.

Moreover, sustainability concerns are gaining prominence, with increasing pressure on the hospitality sector to adopt eco-friendly practices and reduce its environmental footprint. This transition requires substantial investments in infrastructure and operational changes, which can be financially burdensome for many establishments.

Overall, the hotel and hospitality sector must address these hurdles by embracing technology, enhancing guest experiences, diversifying services, attracting and retaining talent, and prioritizing sustainability to foster growth in 2023 and beyond.

What are the most important conversations being had in the sector?

In 2023, the hospitality sector is engaged in crucial conversations that are shaping the industry’s future. One of the key discussions revolves around sustainability and environmental responsibility. With the increasing focus on climate change, stakeholders are exploring ways to minimize the sector’s carbon footprint, reduce waste, and adopt renewable energy sources. Concepts like eco-friendly construction, energy-efficient practices, and sustainable food sourcing are at the forefront of these conversations.

Another significant topic is the integration of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing the guest experience. The industry is exploring innovations such as chatbots, virtual reality (VR), and smart room features to personalize services, streamline operations, and provide seamless interactions for guests. However, concerns related to data security and privacy are also being debated, as the sector grapples with finding the right balance between personalization and protecting customer information.

Furthermore, the workforce of the future is a prominent conversation in the hospitality sector. With advancements in automation and AI, the industry is considering the impact on employment, re-skilling of staff, and the potential for human-robot collaboration.

The focus is on finding ways to leverage technology while maintaining the human touch that is essential in providing exceptional hospitality experiences.

Finally, discussions on inclusivity, diversity, and cultural sensitivity are gaining momentum. The sector recognizes the importance of embracing different backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives to create an inclusive environment for both employees and guests. The conversations aim to address issues of equality, fair treatment, and representation within the industry.

Overall, these conversations in 2023 reflect the hospitality sector’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, talent development, and social responsibility, as it continues to evolve in response to the changing needs and expectations of guests and society at large.

Who are the people currently making waves in this sector?

Whilst I cannot single out any individual, I can tell you that the hospitality sector is composed of various key players, including business owners, industry leaders, chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs and influential figures in the food and beverage industry who all play a part in shaping the Hospitality sector and moving it forward towards a successful 2023 and beyond.

What is on the horizon for the hospitality sector which makes your heart beat faster?

There are several exciting developments on the horizon for the hospitality sector. Firstly, the integration of advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, is set to revolutionize the guest experience. AI-powered chatbots and voice assistants will enhance personalized interactions, while virtual reality tours will allow guests to explore and choose their accommodations remotely.

Additionally, sustainability and eco-consciousness are gaining significant momentum in the industry. Hotels are embracing renewable energy sources, implementing green initiatives, and adopting sustainable practices to reduce their environmental footprint. The growing focus on eco-friendly operations brings hope for a greener future in the hospitality sector.

Another aspect that excites me is the rise of experiential travel. Modern travellers seek immersive and authentic experiences, and hotels are responding by offering unique activities, cultural exchanges, and local partnerships. From culinary workshops to adventure tourism, the hospitality industry is evolving to cater to these evolving demands, enriching the travel experience.

Overall, the combination of technological advancements, immersive experiences and sustainability efforts makes the horizon of the hospitality sector in 2023 an exhilarating prospect. It ignites our passion here at Spires Art to innovate, progress & evolve in partnership with our clients & interior designers, to ensure each vision is brought to life in the best possible way. Spires Art has world class facilities, with the ability to make any artistic dream a reality.

The question we ask first is “What Story Would You Like Your Wall to Tell”.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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