An extraordinary programme focusing on ‘Human Capital and the Challenge of Engaging New Young Professionals in Hospitality’ welcomed the group of general managers from the most prestigious European hotels who gathered at the iconic Hotel Excelsior Lido Resort in Venice from April 12 to 14 for the Annual General Assembly of EHMA, marking the 50th anniversary of the Association.

“I wish to commend our golden jubilee’s outstanding success held in the enchanting city of Venice, commented EHMA president Panos Almyrantis, national delegate Greece and Cyprus and chief development officer (CDO) Ella Resorts in Athens.

“This milestone gathering not only exemplified our commitment to education and industry collaboration but also highlighted the enduring spirit of our association over the past 50 years. Venice provided a captivating setting for this occasion, enhancing the overall experience for all participants. The event was a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of our members and partners who contributed to its success. I extend my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in making this event unforgettable, from the organising team to the distinguished speakers and engaged attendees. Together, we have set a remarkable precedent for future endeavours and reaffirmed our shared vision of excellence in hospitality management across Europe. Here’s to continued success and innovation in the next 50 years and beyond.”

“Venice is the vibrant venue that we, Italian Chapter, strongly wanted for EHMA’s 50th anniversary, the EHMA golden Jubilee. The Venetian Organising Committee has worked with great enthusiasm and passion to organise a most exciting programme,” added Ezio A Indiani, national delegate Italy and general manager Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano.

“The first general assembly was held in 1974 at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton with 20 participants. Today, after 50 years, we are here in Venice to celebrate the association’s jubilee with an attendance of 395 people. We have come a long way.”

And the award goes to…

Three prestigious awards for 2024 were presented during the splendid closing gala dinner in the spectacular Louis XIV-style ‘Sala degli Stucchi’ of the Hotel Excelsior: Alessio Lazazzera GM Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort was elected European Hotel Manager of the Year; Pedro Pinto GM Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel was the winner of the EHMA Sustainability Award by Diversey and Michael Gray, former GM Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and vice-president UK for Hyatt International, received the Hans Koch Lifetime Achievement Award.

The official ordinary general meeting on Friday 12 April opened with the video ‘EHMA – Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence’, produced by Gianni Buonsante of Ingenia Direct, featuring memories from a continuous string of extraordinary annual general meetings held each year in a different European city. As customary, president Panos Almyrantis presented the report on the various activities of the association. The president of HOTREC, Alexandros Vassilikos, then outlined new developments throughout Europe related to key issues such as talent shortage and sustainability.

In order to inspire young people to enter and pursue a profession in the hospitality industry, EHMA collaborates with leading international hotel schools such as École Hôtelière de Lausanne and Nolan Cornell. In this perspective, the association successfully carries out the Young EHMA project that welcomes young hoteliers to attend the general assembly and to participate in a working session led by Ian Millar, senior lecturer at École Hôtelière de Lausanne. EHMA Italy is particularly active on training the new generation of hoteliers and has set up a committee who successfully carries on the ‘Mentor Me’ programme, now on its fifth edition.

Twenty-six new members were officially introduced, a sign of continuing significant growth in membership.

Training day

The Educational Day is the highlight of the event, featuring important keynote speakers and panels. It was opened by the welcome remarks of Simone Venturini, deputy mayor for tourism, City of Venice. Alessio Lazazzera, chairman of the Venice Organising Committee, pointed out that it is the hotels’ human capital that determines the guests’ degree of satisfaction: “General managers are like film directors. Instead of casts, we have staff, and it is our job to bring out the best in each staff member, spark their enthusiasm and provide them with the tools and resources they need to excel.”

The Organising Committee for Venice 2024 with EHMA president Panos Almyrantis and Italian national delegate Ezio A Indiani.

Risposte Turismo introduced the theme of the meeting ‘Human Capital’, presenting the results of an unpublished survey carried out in collaboration with EHMA that, thanks to listening to over 120 European general managers, highlighted challenges and common aspects of the European hotel industry with regard to human capital. The vital question for the hospitality industry ‘Luxury Tourism & Hospitality is growing back in Europe but will we run out of staff?’ was debated in a roundtable composed by different fields in order to deepen the new and future trends that will influence the working and private lives of the employees, such as staff shortage, how to adapt to the new trends or whether there is a need to refocus activities for a better involvement of new young professionals. Seeking to still widen the perspective, a roundtable took place later with the participation of representatives from the tourism sector.

“The first General Assembly was held in 1974 at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton with 20 participants. Today, after 50 years, we are here in Venice to celebrate the association’s jubilee with an attendance of 395 people. We have come a long way.”
Ezio A Indiani, Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano

The closing speech motivating attendees to start involving, engage and support to win was delivered by Sir John Kirwan, globally recognised mental health advocate, author, entrepreneur and a rugby legend.

The assembly was held at the legendary Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort, a historically significant Venetian palazzo, home to the world-renowned Venice Film Festival and Biennale Art. Some participants stayed at the JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa, managed by Cristiano Cabutti, beautifully situated on the private island of Isola delle Rose in the Venice lagoon.