Alexi Khajavi and Julie Rey-Gore, of the Questex Hospitality Group review the conference highlights.
The AHC 2019 Unlocks the Potential and Reaches Highest Audience in its History
Over 1,000 delegates gathered in Manchester for the Annual Hotel Conference (AHC), the highest audience the event has enjoyed in its 16 year history.
Responding to delegate demand, the event extended and expanded with 28% more speakers than last year, 65% of these were new to The AHC stage and one third were female, 14 hours of content and networking opportunities, a dedicated event for those attending for the first time and an exclusive dinner for hoteliers.
Hosted by Questex Hospitality Group, The AHC welcomes UK hoteliers, owners, operators and managers as well as investors, developers, designers, architects, consultants, tourism leaders and regional tourist boards.
The key takeaways from the presentations, panel debates and interviews that took place across the two days highlighted the climate of uncertainty and subsequent hesitation in transactions throughout the market as well as the challenges facing the sector concerning demand meeting supply. In spite of this, 2019 UK hotel transactions are on course to reach £5.3bn, according to CBRE Hotels. The conference heard from Kate Nicholls at UKHospitality that the government now sees the industry as the bellweather for the economy as a whole and there was confidence amongst operators - of both branded and independent hotels - that there is still a strong demand for travel. The importance of nurturing talent within a hotel business was a theme that featured heavily throughout the conference with sessions focussed on practical ways to do this including accommodating flexible working requirements and setting boundaries to avoid burnout. Technology, it’s implementation and harmonisation with employees and guests alike was a standout topic and the audience heard from Duetto that “technology empowers people to use their talents and become strategists, rather than just labour”.
Alexi Khajavi, Managing Director, Questex Hospitality Group said; “We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved with The AHC. Reaching the 1,000 delegate mark is less about the number and more about being the UK’s flagship conference for the UK hospitality sector which as we’ve heard and seen is extremely important for the broader UK economy. The AHC has achieved what so many business forums covet: relevance, discovery and deal making. The fact that we’ve realised this through growth in delegates but more importantly quality of delegates with increasing numbers of hotel investors and owners throughout the UK is even sweeter.”
Following the event, Jonathan Langston, Co-founder, HotStats & The AHC said; “It’s overwhelming that The AHC has been so enthusiastically adopted and supported by the industry. And it’s so rewarding to welcome not only hundreds of new delegates, but also old friends who have been with us for all 16 conferences. I’m delighted that Questex continues to build on The AHC’s core principles of Learn. Network. Be Inspired.”
The event was once again hosted at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate and General Manager, Adam Reckert said; “We’re thrilled to host the conference once again this year and we’re delighted to learn that 2019 has been the most successful year to date. The AHC provides a wonderful umbrella under which so many of our industry’s influencers have an opportunity to network, share ideas and collectively look to the future.”