2019 Master Innholders Conference

March 11, 2019 •

8 min reading

Driving Change in Hospitality – 2019 Master Innholders Conference

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Never has there been such time for change in our industry. Our customers and our workforce are changing and maybe our government is changing, so our industry needs to change.

Danny Pecorelli, the Chairman of the Master Innholders organization, opened its' annual conference held in London earlier this year with one goal in mind: lay the foundation to discuss the present and future of the hospitality industry and inspire over 400 luminaries and hotel operators from around the world to drive change in their business. 

Aptly titled Now is the time to… the conference tackled hot topics for hospitality professionals, such as Brexit, employee engagement and recruitment, and IT security measures. We rounded up key insights from top industry professionals present at the conference.

The importance of self-reflection to enable performance

You don’t learn from experience, you learn from reflecting on that experience and making some positive change.

David Guile, Executive Leadership and Business Coach drew attention to the conference’s theme. By posing two singular questions - “What is really important to [you]?” and “What positive difference can you make for yourself and others?”, he noted that hospitality leaders who were unwilling to reflect on these two questions had the most difficulty in adapting themselves to new challenges.

He conjured the image of spinning dozens of plates: prioritizing plates that need to be spun and dropping the ones that are causing undue burdens allows us to reach our greatest potential for success. He concluded his presentation by calling on the audience to take time to build reflection into daily routines, which in turn can increase productivity and positive output.

Hospitality in the UK and impact of Brexit

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, a leading hospitality trade association, addressed the current role of the hospitality sector in the United Kingdom. 

With 3.2 million highly skilled individuals in place, the hospitality sector boasts twice the size of the financial sector in the UK market and has the official backing of the British government. Furthermore, she explained the negative implications of Brexit and its impact on the hospitality sector; in her words, hoteliers must take a bold stance and brace for unfavorable regulation. She warned of possible labor shortages, wage rate inflation, and future tourism taxes, but also suggested that these measures could be addressed through proactivity and proper oversight. 

Tap into your Personal Power 

Marcus Child, motivational speaker and business consultant, took stage for the keynote address to focus on Personal Power. He emphasized the role of people, positivity, and purpose in the workplace.

In his view, leaders act as catalysts for strong working environments. He believes that we can challenge each other to be braver and look at the bigger picture. His solution to workplace strife and burnouts lies in taking the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO-B) approach. This means adopting openness and inclusion, which leads to loyalty; taking control, which leads to ownership; and finding affection, which leads to lasting commitment. 

Technology in Hospitality: Be Aware of the Hype Cycle

Ian Millar, Senior Lecturer at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, focused on the Hype Cycle. The industry faced a number of hyped technology in the past year. Some examples of hyped technology that failed to deliver include 8K televisions, robots, and mobile apps. On the other hand, hot technology deserving of attention include integrating 5G networks into hotel buildings, adding guest-owned streaming content into rooms, and using facial recognition check-in. Going forward, the hospitality industry needs greater awareness of the hype cycle in its allocation of resources.

GDPR in Hospitality

Rob May, of the cyber-consulting firm Ram Sac, observed that we are at a critical point with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in place. 

Serious impacts and repercussions have already resulted from careless handling and distribution of user data across global organizations. As an example of hospitality-related cyber-attacks, Marriott Starwood systems were undermined by a 4-year long cyber-attack with 500 million guests’ data compromised; 327 million guests had direct passport and credit card information stolen. 

Every 15 seconds an identity is stolen online, so by completing the mandatory training, you and your employees can protect yourselves and your guests.

In his view, our behavior is both our biggest risk and our best line of defense. Social engineering has risen to particular prominence in the past couple years; malicious hackers extract information from unsuspecting users who voluntarily provide private information. He concluded by calling for cyber security training across all levels of the hospitality business.

Become Disruptors of the Status Quo

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of The Black Farmer, a premium farming concept in southwest England, closed out the conference with wise words for conference attendees. He told the story of his Jamaican roots and Birmingham upbringing, explaining that he entered catering at the start of his professional life, but ultimately, found his passion in farming. 

He offered two pieces of sound advice: find your passion and be ruthlessly focused on your task. He believes in “outsiders” – i.e., disruptors of the status quo, for it is they who see opportunity and bring about real change. He defines success as pushing boundaries and understanding what the client wants; the more authentic we are, the better off we will be. In short, we need to focus on feeling, people, and intuition.

As part of their studies at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, students Holden Madison and Monica Sofia Carona da Costa had the opportunity to participate in an auxiliary role at 2019 Master Innholders Conference.

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EHL Bachelor in International Hospitality Management